Buck Survived Years After Bone Grew Over an Arrow in Its Ribs

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The start of winter in many parts of this country is always marked by the strange tales of hunters coming back from the woods. This is one of those, and it is a strange story, indeed. A deer survived being shot by an arrow. For years, apparently. When the animal was finally killed by another hunter, this is what he found.

The deer, which was killed in North Carolina, had an arrow in its side. As the successful hunter began butchering the animal he found that the deer had survived another close encounter. Too close. The story circulated, but this was well before Facebook’s time.

Now, though, the image of the arrow that has gone viral.

The incident had to have been painful. Its ribs were broken, and the razor-edged arrowhead was still attached to the aluminum shaft that protruded from its side.

In most cases, a shot like this could result in fatal blood loss. If not, infection could take the animal.

Yet this one survived and bone grew up around the arrow and fused the whole wound site into one mass of bone.

Robert Stegall’s father had shot the deer, some 30 years ago. His father told him that the four-point buck seemed healthy when he’d shot it in Anson County, North Carolina.

As uncommon as this image is, odd bone growth isn’t an uncommon occurrence. “I have seen bone grow over a variety of foreign objects, usually teeth,” Yara Haridy, a doctoral student at the Natural History Museum in Berlin, told Live Science.

She explained how the wound would have resulted in a massive blood clot, one that effectively prevented the deer from bleeding out.

“The blood clot then becomes the outline for a ‘soft callus’ to form, made of cartilage. Later, this cartilage is replaced by bone, making a hard callus,” she said.

“Another way that bone can wrap around a foreign body is through metaplastic ossification,” Live Science adds, “a pathological process that can occur after trauma. In this case, other types of tissue transform into bone.”

Either way, with that broad-head stuck in its side, movement must have been complicated and painful for a very long time.