Amateur wildlife photographer captures photo of rare 3-antlered deer
Experts say the whitetail buck may be unusual, but it appears to be perfectly healthy
Steve Lindberg was walking his dog in the woods near Marquette, Mich., last weekend when he came across a deer with "a pretty nice set of antlers."
He snapped dozens of photos of the unusual creature, but it wasn't until he got home and looked at them more closely that he realized he'd photographed a rare three-antlered buck.
"When I first looked at it, [I thought it was] just a set of antlers that wasn't uniform on both sides," the retired legislator-turned-amateur wildlife photographer told As It Happens host Carol Off.
"But it turns out it was more than that."
Rare, but not unheard of
Once he realized what an unusual gem he'd captured, he proudly posted his photos on Facebook — where they drew a mix of praise and skepticism.
He soon found himself uploading additional photos — even the ones he didn't think were very good — just to prove to the naysayers that the buck was real.
"Of course, the flat-Earthers are never going to believe I didn't Photoshop it," he said.
While a three-antlered deer is, indeed, rare — it's not unheard of.
Steve Edwards, a large animal vet at Michigan's Lakeview Animal Clinic, told the Detroit Free Press the buck is "probably a one-in-a-million thing."
Reports of deer with extra antlers go back at least as far as 1965, when researchers found one with an antler growing off its cheekbone, John Bruggink, a wildlife biologist at Northern Michigan University, told the Washington Post.
He said the extra antler may be the result of damaged pedicels. Those are the bony structures that support the development of antlers. If they're damaged early in development, or if blood supply is restricted for some reason, that could impact how they grow, he said.
Both experts agree it's not likely causing the animal any distress. Edwards called the creature a "normal, healthy, good-looking buck."
As for Lindberg, he hopes it stays that way.
Hunting season starts Friday in Michigan, and it's perfectly legal to kill a whitetail deer, no matter how many antlers it has.
Fearing that hunters will see the triple-set antlers as a tempting trophy, he says he's not telling people exactly where he spotted the animal.
There used to be a time when Lindberg, himself, would wander the woods with a gun instead of a camera. But those days, he said, are long behind him.
"When I grew up hunting, you put on your hunting clothes and you went out in the woods and you looked for an animal," he said.
Once it became legal to lure animals with bait in Michigan, he says hunting lost its appeal.
"Some place along the line, I realized I didn't even like killing them anymore. The thrill was gone," he said. "But the thrill of the hunt is still there when I go out with the camera."
Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview with Steven Lindberg produced by Abby Plener.