Alabama Hunter Shoots Big-Nose “Bullwinkle” Buck

For 6 years we’ve been building a databank of deer afflicted with mysteriously swollen snouts. We call them “big-nose” here on BIG DEER; they are also referred to as “Bullwinkle” in some circles.

The first case we reported was a big-nose buck from Michigan. Subsequently we have documented whitetails with swollen snouts from Texas, South Carolina, Florida and Minnesota.

al big nose courtneyYesterday I got this picture from Courtney, who just shot this big-nose buck near Furman, Alabama. No doubt the biggest buck we’ve seen with a swollen nose!

So what causes it? As this article from QDMA explains: “The swollen snouts of afflicted deer result from chronic (long-term) inflammation of the tissues of the nose, mouth and upper lip… How and where deer acquire the Bullwinkle bacteria is still unknown.”

Another common question I get: “Is a big-nose deer safe to eat?”

I have always advised NOT to eat the meat of an afflicted deer, and the QDMA concurs: “We don’t recommend (eating the meat). The long-term nature of the infection could mean that bacteria are present in the blood and muscle, or a secondary infection could also have developed. Better to be safe than sorry.”

In fact BIG DEER documented just that with a Minnesota big-nose doe. As the hunter cleaned it, he found nasty secondary infections in and around some bones and meat. So don’t eat the venison!

If you see or hear of anybody shooting a big-nose deer (now or in the past) be sure to send us info/pictures for our growing databank.




Bowhunting Shot Placement: Buck Confirms “No Man’s Land” Exists

Can you shoot an arrow through a mysterious vacuum of tissue and air beneath a buck’s spine and above the lungs, and have that deer run off to live another day? Or will a broadhead shot here most certainly clip the lungs and/or cut vital arteries and kill the deer, even if you never find it?

If you’ve ever pulled a shot high—and who amongst us hasn’t?—you’ve agonized over this as you tracked on a sparse blood trail, looking for a “dead” deer that might never have materialized.

Is this “no man’s land” conundrum for real, or a myth?

Dr. Grant Woods, one of the nation’s top deer biologists and a hard-core bowhunter, told me one time:  ”This is a frequent debate among bowhunters. Both sides hold solidly to their opinions. This is probably because both sides are correct, at least according to their observations.”

Bowhunting across the country the last 35 years, I have seen strange and unexplainable things happen when I or others shot a deer too high above the lungs and beneath the spine. I count myself a cautious believer that no man’s land does indeed exist.

OK, that is the backstory. Now to this email I got from Zach the other day:

no mans land zach

Hello Mike: I shot an 8 pointer last Wednesday 1/14/15 on an evening sit. I knew the shot was a bit high but felt good about the placement. No blood at spot of impact. Blood started about 40 yards away and I had a nice steady trail. Snow did help. Followed him about a quarter mile into a thick cedar bedding area. Never went into the bedding area that night, I left him lay until the morning. I thought for sure he would bed down and not get up.

Went back in the morning and walked up within 20 yards of him staring at me. He took a couple good leaps and I backed out. I did check his bed and there was a nice pool of blood in it. I backed out just hoping he would stick around the area; I just didn’t give him enough time. Went back the next morning and same thing. After the second time I jumped him, I felt I should just be more patient but should still keep looking, so I gave him a few days.

Went back a third time and with fresh snow found a couple beds with far less blood and a bit of puss in them. Made me think he is not a dead deer but a healing wounded deer. Went back the other day over a week later and no sign of him anywhere. I’ve been running a few cameras just to see if he would show up.

Sure enough he showed his face one evening. I attached a picture of him. No man’s land, you can clearly see entry hole up on his side. Hope this helps to confirm the no man’s land theory. Thanks—Zach


How To Clean A Rifle Barrel

clean rifle

Another deer season is over, and it’s time to clean our rifles and put them away for a few months. The best advice I’ve ever seen comes from an old book entitled “Do-It-Yourself Gun Repair” by Edward Matunas (out of print). I’ve been following Ed’s routine for years, and it’s the best.

–You’ll need a cleaning rod, brush, jag, patches and solvent. The best rod is a spring-steel model with a plastic, nylon or similar coating and a swiveling handle.

–Choose Shooter’s Choice or Hoppe’s No. 9 solvent.

–Always use a cleaning-rod guide to protect a gun’s receiver from the sharp jag, and also to protect the rifle’s throat from damage.

–Insert the rod into the bore from the chamber end to protect the muzzle. The last few inches of a rifle barrel are extremely important to its accuracy; wear or damage caused by a cleaning rod would ruin accuracy.

–Begin by pushing a soaked patch through the bore. Repeat. Run 2 dry patches thorough the bore.

–Run another soaked patch through the bore. Remove the jag, install a bore brush of the correct caliber and soak brush in solvent. Push the brush through the bore until it exits the muzzle; pull it back until it exits the chamber. Rule of thumb: Repeat this in-and-out brushing for each shot fired since the last cleaning—maybe 10 or 20 shots for a typical deer rifle?

–Pass another soaked patch through the bore, and then another. Set the rifle aside in a horizontal position, with the muzzle pointed a tad down to prevent solvent from running into the action. Allow the bore to soak for at least 30 minutes; 3 or 4 hours are better.

–After the soak period, run clean, dry patches through the bore. Repeat until the bore is dry.

–Repeat the entire bore-soaking process, but this time omit the brushing step. It may take 3 to 5 daylong soaks to remove all the fouling from a barrel that has been fired only 15 to 20 times. A greater number of soaks may be necessary if a high number of rounds were fired since the last cleaning (or if you haven’t cleaned your rifle in years). It can take a week or more to get a barrel really clean.

–Wipe down the exterior metalwork of the rifle with a good coat of Rem Oil and store gun in a safe place.

After a thorough bore cleaning like this, a deer rifle that was shooting 2- or 3-inch groups at 100 yards might cluster bullets at or inside an inch.

Deer Sheds Are Easy to Miss!

SD shed 1

Mike: I found this big old shed hanging in a pine tree. A fellow shed hunter south of me found the match 2 years ago and we thought that shed was one year old then.

I have walked passed this tree 20 times in the last few years and never spotted it. Amazing how you just miss the simple ones!—Kelly K. from South Dakota

Thanks Kelly, I find several things fascinating about your find.

Apparently the buck was rubbing on the tree one winter day when this antler popped off. Maybe the abscission layer that hold the antler on like cement was dissolving and getting brittle, causing the deer’s head to itch?

SD shed 2

Also, that  rub on the pine has been there awhile, likely made one day in October or November years ago. Did this buck make that rub, or did he just stop and rub it from time to time (multiple bucks smell and rub the same trees from year to year).

Finally, since the antler had been stuck in that tree for 3 years, I wonder how many different bucks had come by and seen it and maybe rubbed the tree above it anyway? It is quite possible that the buck that lost this antler came by the following fall and maybe the next and rubbed the pine again.