On Sunday morning, Montana hunter Jeff Hasbrouck set out to help his 10-year-old son Zayden harvest his first deer on some private land near the small town of Winnett. The duo had four tags to fill—two whitetail doe tags, Jeff’s special draw mule deer tag, and Zayden’s general deer tag which allowed him to hunt whitetail bucks in the area. They would end the day with all four tags notched, and Jeff’s tag was strapped to an especially strange mule deer buck.
“We set out in the morning with the idea to get my son a buck,” Hasbrouck tells Outdoor Life. “I told Zayden we were going to knock out the does first thing in the morning, and that way we could spend the rest of the day looking for his deer. Then we could work on my tag. This was his hunt. He’d been on three other hunts with me without being able to shoot, so he was super excited about this one.”
The duo drove around the property where they had access. It’s a piece of farm land that Jeff has hunted for the last five years. Tall rows of corn held the more skittish whitetails, while the mule deer stood out in the open. This presented an extra challenge for filling the doe tags and Zayden’s buck tag. But Jeff continued to drive and glass, dead set on putting his mule deer tag last.
Eventually, they ended up back near a group of mule deer they’d glassed earlier in the morning.
“There were just some mule deer does, a small 2-by-2, and then Mr. Corkscrew,” Jeff says. “I couldn’t tell what [his antlers looked like] at first and I just kept glassing him trying to get every angle I could.”
Jeff and Zayden sat there for a while, staring at the weird buck. Eventually, Jeff turned to Zayden, hoping a change of plans wouldn’t come as a disappointment.
“I said ‘Hey, I know this is your hunt, and I want you to get your first deer, but this is a very unique buck,’” Jeff says. “And Zayden looked at me and said ‘Just shoot it, Dad. Just shoot it.’ So I took one shot and lunged him.”
The buck walked about 10 yards before laying back down. Jeff knew he was a legal buck, but still struggled to see exactly what the antlers looked like from a distance.
“I could see some pins and curls, but I couldn’t really tell what the other side looked like,” he says. “When we walked up to him, Zayden says ‘He looks like a corkscrew!’ So that’s what his name is.”
Jeff isn’t quite sure why the buck’s antlers look the way they do, although lungworm can cause corkscrew antlers in other deer species, such as red deer and whitetails. They pass through the respiratory and digestive systems of deer and other ungulates and don’t impact the health of the venison. Deer often don’t even exhibit symptoms.
The day carried on. Jeff harvested both does and tried to get Zayden set up on whitetail bucks multiple times before the deer would take off. But persistence paid off and Zayden eventually got to take his first shot on a 4×4 whitetail—with the same Remington Model 70 that his dad and older sister had taken their first big game animals with.
“Luck was on our side,” Jeff says. “The buck was standing out among some haybales. Zayden made a good shot, one shot to the chest, and dropped the buck.”
Jeff plans on getting European mounts of both skulls and donated some of the meat from the does to the Montana Veterans Meat Locker. His search for strange bucks will continue next season.
“The people at the check station estimated that he was 5.5 years old,” Jeff says. “He looks quite healthy … but yeah, he is strange.”