Illinois farmer discovers deer he shot was an oddity

Sunday, May 3, 2009

FULTS, Ill. -- The first day of last year's firearm deer season yielded an oddity for Glenn Voelker.

Voelker, a 64-year-old grain farmer from Fults, shot a 10-point buck from a ground blind in Monroe County on Nov. 21. The buck field-dressed at 184 pounds, and the rack was one of the biggest of Voelker's hunting career, which began in 1964.

The unusual part came when Voelker inspected the rack. It was still mostly enveloped in velvet. Normally, a buck will shed its velvet by the end of September.

"It's normally all rubbed off," Voelker said. "That's what the taxidermist told me. He said it's unique. It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing. He said you don't find deer in velvet during gun season. You see them in Missouri during bow season, but that starts in September."

Herb Klein, owner of Klein Taxidermy in St. Mary's, Mo., mounted Voelker's buck. He said he's seen a buck in velvet that late into the season only one time in 40 years in the business.

"I've mounted over 10,000 deer, and I've only seen one like it," Klein said. "That was at a taxidermy show 25 years ago."

Klein said as a rule of thumb, bucks begin shedding velvet by the end of August and are finished by mid- to late September. Growing antlers are covered in velvet, an extension of skin which carries nutrients through blood. Velvet shedding is triggered by rising levels of testosterone, which decreases blood supply.

Voelker said he has no clue why the buck didn't shed its velvet.

"The tips of the antlers were like nails," Voelker said. "They were sharp. They were not rounded at all."

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