PHOTO: ‘Unicorn’ Elk Captured on Trail Cam With Just One Antler

by Craig Garrett

A trail camera in Washington State recently caught an elk on video that appears to have a single antler growing out of its forehead. Hunters search for big game prospects when examining trail cameras, but nothing compares to the footage recently exposed and reported on. According to KIRO 7, a trail camera in Tampico, Washington recorded video of an elk with an antler emerging from the bull’s forehead, giving it a new moniker: “unicorn.”

On Sunday, a trail camera in Tampico caught a bull elk, which is 15 miles west of Yakima. The animal in the photos looks healthy, but has a big “horn” right in the center of its forehead. An image of the unique animal was shared on Twitter.

Kyle Garrison, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife representative, said the antler abnormality is uncommon. However, it’s a naturally occurring phenomenon. Officials explained that the growth usually happens because of injury, hormones or genetics. Garrison told KIRO that he believes this elk’s growth is due to a genetic abnormality. This was after looking at photos of the creature.

How the “unicorn” horn may affect the elk

Garrison told KIRO that the antler may eventually hinder the elk’s ability to eat. The bull may have issues attracting females, too. In this case, size does matter because the antlers of a bull elk play an important role in attracting cows. He won’t be able to fight it out successfully during the rut when bulls lock antlers and duke it out. Garrison also noted that the pedicle, or base of the antler, is in an “extremely abnormal location.” When a bull sheds his horns, which happens between January and April on average, they typically fall off but a new one will emerge from the same place.

However, this wasn’t the only unusual animal captured on a trail camera recently. Recently, Georgia Outdoor News published a story that Jeffrey Autrey, an electrician from Collins, GA had sent in. Autrey apparently spread five gallons of corn across some lowland habitat near the Altamaha River on a new lease. He then placed a trail camera on a nearby tree. Autrey didn’t expect to catch much footage after some hard rain.

“With all the rain lately, that spot started to flood,” Jeffrey explained. “At first, I got some photos of the buck. Then, I switched the camera to video. That’s when I caught that deer on video sticking his entire head under the water to feed off the bottom to get at that corn.” As Autrey watched the footage, he was shocked by what he saw. This kind of behavior is very rare in this area, according to him.

Charlie Killmaster, the head state deer biologist for the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division in Social Circle, weighed in. “Deer have a good enough sense of smell to detect food that’s been flooded, and they will eat a variety of aquatic vegetation,” Charlie Killmaster explained. “While this probably isn’t common behavior for us to observe, except for areas with a ton of wetlands like the Everglades, I have seen videos of deer ‘submarine eating’ in the past.”