The American hunter is still in disbelief as he ponders just how his big harvest for this hunting trip ended up an exotic deer from the other side of the world.
For opening day of archery season in Mississippi, Sylvester Badeaux was hoping to harvest a wild hog. Or – at least – bag one of his target bucks. Instead, however, the hunter was able to bring home the trophy of a lifetime.
Badeaux, a native of Louisiana, was hunting in Claiborne County, Mississippi. “It was probably 9:15 in the morning and I’d said I’d stay until 10,” he clarifies. “I was getting antsy and I saw something black to my right. I thought it was a hog… I’ve got actually two (target bucks) and we’ve got a hog problem. I’d made up my mind I was going to get a hog or one of those deer.”
Ready to bag what he thought was a hog, Badeaux took aim and let loose an arrow. He struck the chocolate-colored animal, but once he did – noticed a pair of antlers.
“That’s a deer,” Badeaux recalls. “That’s a buck!” It wasn’t one of his tagged bucks, either. This was something else entirely.
U.S. hunter harvests exotic Asian deer
“It turned and went back the direction it came from, [so] I waited a while and made a few phone calls,” Badeaux adds. “We tracked it about 50 yards and found it on the thickest part of our property…”
What they found had each member of the hunting party absolutely baffled. “My first [thought] was, ‘What is this? What do I have here?’ The other guys were saying, ‘What is this?'”
His harvest was a deer, yes. But not one native to this continent. Not even to this hemisphere. The deer is a deep, chocolatey-brown with hair much longer than a white tail or mule deer. It sports a mane around its neck, and peculiar antlers that stand almost straight up. Most puzzling of all? “It had a strange smell. It just had an odor,” Badeaux says.
The cervus nippon yakushimae of Mississippi
To solve his mystery, Badeaux made a call to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks. From there, a biologist was able to identify his unique harvest for him. Badeaux couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
The Louisiana man had just bagged a sika stag – a species native to Japan – in Mississippi.
From there, the harvest only becomes more bizarre. According to the Department of Natural Resources in Maine, sika deer were brought to the states in the early 1900s. From there, wild populations became stable – but rare. Apparently, to see -and bag – one in the wild in the United States – is akin to bagging a unicorn.
Sika deer stand about 2½ feet tall at thee shoulder and bucks average at about 100 lbs. Their faces – particularly their muzzles – are much more compact and “stumpy” than North American deer species. Sika grow long, flowing manes, too. Combine these unique features and you’ve got a creature that looks somewhere between a deer and a mountain goat.
The coat of this Asian species is reddish brown with white speckles in the summer. During autumn, it begins to shift to their winter coloration of deep browns. For hunters seeking sika, a 6-point is considered a trophy. If an 8-pointer is found, however, you’re looking at the trophy of the century.
The trophy of a lifetime
While his bag may not be an 8-pointer, Badeaux says he’s thrilled with his 6-point exotic deer “with a kicker on one side”.
“We’re definitely going to have him mounted,” Badeaux says with a smile. “We’re going to have him at the camp. I looked them up. There are definitely some bigger ones, but the taxidermist said he’s a fine one.”
As a true hunter and outdoorsman, Badeaux says he was determined to harvest everything not being used for his trophy. And despite the odor he recalls – Badeaux says the meat is absolutely delicious.
“I will tell you it’s some fine meat,” he adds. “I’ll eat this meat over a white-tail. It’s definitely better than white-tail.”
[H/T Clarion Ledger]