Mike: A QDMA member in Wisconsin, Tom Grall, got these photos on a trail camera in June. When we saw them, we thought it was a clear case of arterial worms, a parasite that actually lives in the arteries of deer. When the worms move into the carotid arteries of the neck, they can interfere with the muscles that control the tongue, and the deer can't swallow properly, so food builds up in the cheek or under the tongue. It's called a food impaction, and that's clearly what Tom's doe has.
But when we checked with Wisconsin DNR, we found there had never been a documented case of arterial worms in Wisconsin. After more checking with experts, we confirmed that other factors can cause food impactions, like an abscessed tooth, a broken jawbone, or even a foreign object like a stick or rock becoming lodged in the deer's mouth. Food impactions look bad but usually aren't fatal. Tom reports that he has gotten more pictures of this doe since June and she appears to be in better health. These pictures and the story will be featured in the August issue of Quality Whitetails. Thanks! Lindsay