Buck’s swollen rear leg likely the result of interdigital joint infection, state vet says

Trail cam photo of Natchez-area buck discovered on March turkey hunt

A deer spotted on a trail-cam photo with a noticeably swollen rear leg on LouisianaSportsman.com’s forum likely has an infected interdigital joint, according to the state veterinarian.

Dr. Jim LaCour, with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said the buck’s survival will hinge on whether or not he can beat the infection in his right rear leg.

“It depends on his luck and the severity of it,” LaCour said. “With some of them the joint will open and rupture and drain. It will fuse back, and when it does, they have a stiff joint, but they’ll be sound on it.

“Some of them, the infection gets into the bone and they end up getting septic and die from it. There’s no way to predict what’s going to happen to the animal.”

LaCour said the interdigital joint is just above where the toes come together.

“It’s not uncommon for them to get foot rot, which will ascend between those toes up into the joint, or if a stick or whatever wedges between those toes, it will go right into the joint and the joint can get infected,” he said. “That’s pretty common in cloven-hoofed animals like that.”

Brandon Gill, 38, of Denham Springs, posted the trail cam picture, which was taken on private land a few miles north of Natchez, Miss. in mid-February.

In one picture dated Feb. 9, the buck sported what looked like an 8- to 10-point rack. By Feb. 23, when the next photo was taken, the rack had already been shed.

“My buddy who owns the property and a few other guys went up there to make a turkey hunt and he still had his camera out,” Gill said. “They checked the camera and that’s what was on it.”

Gill said the property, across from Giles Island, increases in elevation by almost 300 feet moving from west to east, with some high ridge tops and steep bottoms.

“It just amazes me how that deer can get up and down and has avoided all the coyotes we have there,” Gill said.

If the buck survives, LaCour said the long-term impact on the animal would be probably be minimal.

“The joint would fuse so it would no longer be mobile, but it would be pain-free to the deer,” LaCour said. “He’d just have a stiff leg.”

About Patrick Bonin 1315 Articles
Patrick Bonin is the former editor of Louisiana Sportsman magazine and LouisianaSportsman.com.

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