By Dr. Johnnie Rosenauer
Back a few years ago on a long-term high-fenced place we lease, our trail cameras caught the picture of a really strange looking two-year-old. His right side was a typical four points, which never changed over the years – only growing as would be expected. But his left side was simply a long single tine with a small fork at the end. Subsequent visual sightings confirmed the pictures and we named him Freak. My partners and I agreed it could be an anomaly and wrote it off to an injury. We let him walk.
As a three-year-old, Freak carried that same single tine but now had a G1 (brow tine or eye guard as it is sometimes called). We agreed that in this well-balanced herd he would likely not breed and decided to see what might happen.
When he was both four and five years old, Freak continued to have an abnormal left side to his rack and was now “big enough” to become a breeder in the herd. We decided one such funny looking deer was enough and put him on the hit list. The challenge was we never saw him except on trail camera pictures both of those years.
At age six I was very dedicated to hunting for Freak. He had developed into a pretty nice looking buck except that now he had 3 points on the left side growing out of one spot! Not only was it a “lopsided” rack, but it look downright weird. I passed on numerous other bucks that could have been taken, not wanting to ever make a noise that would scare the cagey old guy off.
It had been a wet fall and our food plots were doing really well. One mid-December day I was sitting at a spot we called High Blind. It was named this because of the elevation of the terrain and not the height of the stand. This location was a semi-wagon wheel with a total of six senderos spread out in a 180 degree half circle. Oats were knee deep in three of the clearings.
Pretty late in the day a deer showed up at the very end of one sendero. It was about 250 yards long and the mature buck stayed just at the edge of the brush. A quick look with binocs confirmed it was indeed the elusive Freak.
A careful setup with a solid rest resulted in Freak moving from standing to laying. He sure was a pretty sight laying in that thick green patch of oats. Because it was rutting time, he had broken off one of the 3 points coming out of that same spot and so seemed a bit less odd, but it was still a different kind of looking rack. Old Freak sits on the wall right about the desk in my home office and is the first thing most folks notice when they walk into the room.
We never have seen any offspring that looked like Old Freak, and for that I am grateful. He was a sly animal and a worthy challenge in my search for him. As the years have passed, I am reminded it is less about the harvest itself, and more about the experiences that come from days out in La Brasada. Thanks, Freak, for the memories.
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