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Jerry Davis: Odd antlers really quite typical

December 3, 2017 GMT

A Portage County deer hunter was excited by what could turn out to be a record rack taken with a crossbow.

The main draw was the palmated main beams on the left and right antlers.

Greg Schekel’s wife was the one who insisted he get a deer head mounted because as she said, “you’ll never get something like that again.”

Not only did Leslie Schekel encourage he get the mount but talked her husband into a head mount rather than a skull or antler mount.

Usually it is the hunter having to talk the spouse into allowing a mount and approving the display of it in the home, but not this time.

While palmated main beams and 18 points are what makes the Portage County rack unique, Schekel’s Iowa County buck had three antlers and several “stickers” coming off regular tines (points).

The palmated whitetail antlers are not as common as some other oddities, but hunters have seen them on small racks, even spike racks.

Hunters and antler fanatics seem to get more excited about these nontypical antlers than about symmetrical racks, but they don’t seem to be less common than more “normal” white-tailed deer antlers described and termed typical racks by those who measure and record rack records.

A deer’s antlers must have 15 inches of odd antler growths on the pair of antlers to move a typical rack to nontypical status when scored by a trained judge or scorer, according to taxidermists.

Alex Lease, who is mounting the Portage County deer, said size is important when a hunter decides to spend the money for a mount.

“But often it’s a hunter’s first deer that gets mounted so there is more to it than size,” Lease said.

Sometimes there is a good story behind getting the buck or the antlered doe mounted.

Jerry Sheppard, a retired taxidermist in La Crosse, explained that most hunters appreciate what they shoot, so it doesn’t matter how big it is.

“Sometimes, as with nontypical antlers, the more odd or weird it is, the more likely it’ll get mounted,” he said. “Mounts preserve the memory. That’s what it’s all about.”

The palmated Portage deer will score high because the main beams are flattened and will measure seven or more inches in diameter, but those measures will not automatically put the rack into the nontypical status. But the sticker points probably will, however.

Lease said he’ll have most of the antler and skull mounts done by Christmas, but it’ll be six to eight months before the last of the head and shoulder mounts are done. That means hunters could be positioned to display them at the Madison Deer and Turkey Expo in April.

Odd or nontypical racks can have a number of causes including diseases, injuries, genetics or nutrition. Sometimes these causes can be working in combination. Body injuries on the left side can cause deformities on the right side of the rack.

Rack injuries are common, too, from bucks fighting during dominance scuffles or “fights” with immoveable objects, including concrete statue deer and roadway collisions.

Genetic causes are likely to occur year-after-year. Hunters often nickname a deer for an odd rack.

“Shorty,” who was seen three consecutive years, had an unusually short point on the right side, but not the left.

Oddities may help hunters confirm a deer they caught on trail camera and later took with a bow or rifle.