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.
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.