Brain abscesses in deer

There has been quite a bit of research in the Southeast on the issue of brain abscesses, and researchers are finding that more bucks die because of this natural mortality than from hunting in some areas having a good adult buck component in the population.

The scientific name for this problem is intracranial absecessation and is caused by the bacterium Trueperella pyogenes.

It appears to be common in healthy deer, and no doubt skull damage from fighting is one way for it to infect a deer.

Trying to move bucks up into older age classes (or banking deer) is risky business but must be done in order to grow some real trophies.

However, the deer hunter/manger who keeps good records and knows what the age and growth patterns are on his land can use this information to remove those adult bucks that are not showing the desired growth patterns.

Harvesting low-end adult bucks might prevent some of the stress bucks experience during the rut from fighting and establishing dominance by reducing adult buck numbers. The better young adults are allowed to grow older while the low-end adults are harvested.

This harvest scheme also gives hunters more opportunities to harvest deer during the season. And remember: If a good young adult buck is killed by a hunter, the world is not going to come to an end and your deer program is not going to collapse.

Hunting is recreation and it should stay that way.

About David Moreland 246 Articles
David Moreland is a retired wildlife biologist with LDWF, having served as the State Deer Biologist for 13 years and as Chief of the Wildlife Division for three years. He and his wife Prudy live in rural East Feliciana Parish.