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Alligator Killed in South Carolina Had a Deer Antler Stuck in Its Jaw

"We've seen a lot of strange things, but we've never seen anything like that"
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alligator antler in jaw
The 11-foot gator was harvested by hunters from an unknown location in South Carolina. via Facebook

A wild game processor in South Carolina made a startling discovery on Saturday after a group of hunters brought in an 11-foot alligator they’d killed. Upon prying open the gator’s mouth, they found a deer antler embedded in its lower jaw. Cordray’s Venison Processing shared photos of the unusual discovery on Facebook, which show the intact, three-point antler stuck in the soft tissue of the alligator’s mouth.

The most logical explanation, according to owner Michael Cordray, was that the alligator preyed on the whitetail buck and then ate it—antlers and all. An alligator over 10 feet long is certainly capable of taking down a small buck, and the reptiles are known to ambush deer when they come down to the water’s edge for a drink. Cordray said it’s also possible (but unlikely) that the deer was already dead when the gator found it.

“We determined it has been that way six months or less, and likely happened while the alligator was chewing,” Cordray told McClatchy News. “It just shows you the destructive power of an alligator, that they even try to eat the antlers.”

The horn was wedged firmly in place with the three tines pointing toward the roof of the gator’s mouth. This likely would have caused excruciating pain anytime the alligator closed its jaws. After taking some photos of the wedged-in antler, the processors removed it.

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 “It surprised us, too,” Corday said. “We’ve seen a lot of strange things, but we’ve never seen anything like that.”

To Cordray’s point, the wild game processor based in Charleston County has found plenty of odd items inside alligators over the years. In April 2021, they cut open the stomach of a 12-foot alligator and found five hunting dog collar tags, multiple bobcat claws and turtle shells, a bullet casing, and a spark plug. They later determined that one of the collar tags belonged to a deer dog that had gone missing 24 years prior.