Chase Mortenson of Madison, Minnesota killed an extraordinarily rare whitetail buck on his uncle’s property in Granite Falls on Sunday. The deer has since been dubbed the “unicorn buck” for the third beam protruding from its forehead.
Mortenson took to Facebook to share a photo of the unusual buck. Its heavy main beams sprout five tines on its right side and three on its left. The third beam is nearly as thick as the other two, and it forks into two equal-sized tines.
Mortenson was hunting from a tree stand when he took the shot, the Learfield Wire Service reported. He initially thought he missed the buck, but then found it just 20 yards from his stand. Sunday was the last day of Minnesota’s rifle deer season and the second day of muzzleloader season, although it isn’t clear whether Mortenson was hunting with a rifle or a muzzleloader. He did not immediately respond to request for comment.
His Facebook post received lots of support and warm wishes from friends, including one commenter who posted a video of the buck walking through what looks like a parking area near a power line in broad daylight. The angle shows how the third pedicle is wedged between the buck’s eyes, warping the left eye socket.
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It’s not unheard of to see bucks with horn growing from their faces. Davey Stuckey of Ohio shot an old monster with a 9-inch drop tine and a 2-inch antler growing from its tear duct on Oct. 31, 2022. Similarly, fellow Minnesotan Carson Reeve shot a triple-beamed buck on Nov. 6, 2022.
Some triple-beamed bucks result from a prior year’s antler not shedding and the new one growing up underneath it. But why an antler would grow out of a whitetail’s face, inches away from the two main beams, is less clear. The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources gives some explanation, pointing out that a buck’s hormones will allow it grow antlers wherever a pedicle can take root.
“The most interesting aspect of this antler growth tissue is that, if it is surgically removed and grafted to another part of the deer’s body, it will grow there,” the Virginia DWR writes. “For example, it would be possible to surgically produce a unicorn deer or a deer with 10 antlers growing out of its skull or any other part of the body.”