Deer with upper canines is such a rare phenomenon that most people won’t harvest a deer with upper canines in their entire hunting career. That being said, even if they do manage to harvest a deer with upper canine teeth, there’s a good chance it will go unnoticed. The reality is, the average deer hunter isn’t looking in the mouth of a deer. Unless they make a European mount, take the head to a taxidermist or inspect the lower jaw in attempts to age the deer, chances are they will miss the upper canine teeth if they are present.
That was certainly the case for me as well. I shot this 2.5 year old buck “lefty” on the last day of my hunting season in 2014 [watch here]. I passed him up on a few different occasions as I had three other mature hit list bucks I was chasing. It was obvious that Lefty had some damage to his one side which had left him with a pretty funky little rack. When Lefty came in during the last hour of daylight on my last sit, I decided to shoot him. After some consideration I decided to go ahead and get a European bleaching job done on the scull of this deer. At the very least I wanted to be able to take a closer and more detailed look at the damage to the base of his antler and the pedicle.
When I went to pick up the skull from the local taxidermist he pointed out the very rare canine teeth that were on the top portion of the jaw. I personally had never seen anything like this before. This particular taxidermist who has been in the business for over 40 years, said he has only ever seen one other deer head with these teeth and it only had one canine tooth. My buck has both of these rare canine teeth intact.
Excited about my rare harvest I went home to do some research on the subject of deer with upper canine teeth. As always there is varying information available about this topic. However the consensus is that canine teeth in deer is extremely rare. Its proves to be a throwback of left over genetics from when deer had these teeth for a variety of reasons. It is said to be much less then 1% of deer have these teeth. How cool is that! Another helpful article that speaks to this topic was authored by the gang at QDMA and you can read that article here.
I wanted to share my extremely lucky harvest with everyone to encourage them to check the upper jaws on all their deer harvests, I got lucky that my taxidermist noticed but from now on I will always be checking. I feel like in some sort of way I have won a kind of historical lottery and now I have a very cool piece of evolution hanging on a skull hooker in my basement.