Deer Photos: Alberta Muley With Crazy Rack

Justin Eckert shot this 'droop-tine' buck while bowhunting southern Alberta last October. Even though this was far from the biggest buck in the area, he had his sights set on the deer (nicked named the Brahma buck because its ears hung low like a Brahma bull) all season because of its unique rack. Here's the story behind his hunt and the theory on how this buck's rack came to be.
Eckert is a guide for Billy Franklin of Silver Sage Outfitters and he first spotted the Brahma Buck while guiding a client in September. The deer was bedded in a field and at first they thought its head was just a big weed.
Upon closer inspection, they realized they were looking at a buck with a oddly-formed rack. They were unable to kill the deer on that encounter, and Eckert spotted him a few more times throughout the bow season. One of his clients wanted to take the deer and they made a stalk within bow range, but the client missed the shot.
Finally Eckert had an evening to hunt (without a client) in October. "I'd been obsessing over the deer," he said. He set up in a ground blind on a stubble field and waited to see if the buck would come in. There was little action in the field and shooting light was running out, so Eckert decided to leave early and maybe intercept a buck on the way.
And sure enough, he spotted the Brahma buck coming out from a coulee. Eckert made a quick stalk on the deer in flat country and was able to cut him off. He ambushed the buck behind a small hill and made a great shot at about 55 yards. He watched as the buck ran off and then fell dead.
The Brahma Buck is basically a main-frame 4x4 with main beams that droop down and then curl back upward. Eckert and outfitter Billy Franklin believe that the deer was sick or injured in June or July when he was developing antlers. When a buck is sick during antler development it will automatically divert energy away from antler growth and to fighting off the sickness. The rack starts to droop or 'melt' like hot wax, Eckert says. This buck was obviously able to recover and continue growing its rack. You can tell that the muley would have been a large buck from its body-size (about 300 pounds) and the thickness of its main beams.
"He scores a lot lower than other deer I've killed, but when you throw a pile of deer photos down on the table, this is the first one people always pick up," says Eckert, who is getting a shoulder mount of the deer.
Silver Sage has plenty of normal-racked bucks too. Franklin guided a hunter to this 189-inch buck last fall. However, the monster 4x4 was overshadowed by Eckert's weird droop-tine buck. "It's by far the most unique buck I've ever seen," Eckert says. To hunt with Silver Sage visit silversageoutfitters.com.

Alberta guide Justin Eckert finally had an evening to himself last October and made the most of it by putting a stalk on this 'droop-tine' buck. See the story and photos here.