What does the term mean?

Q: I was recently shown the perruque head of a roebuck. A stalking companion said that these heads develop as a result 
of the animals being deliberately shot in the testicles. Is this true?

A: Roebuck with perruque heads are often found to have damage to their testicles, either having been shot or through disease. Sometimes these animals are intersex, though the condition might not be visible to the casual observer. In other cases, it is caused by other conditions — for example, tumours on the head.

Where roe have been surgically castrated, the perruque growth can be extreme, on occasion adding five times the weight of the head. It is now recognised that the perruque growth will, in some cases, continue to grow, year on year until the weight, infection or fly strike causes the animal to succumb. To avoid a slow death such deer are culled at the earliest opportunity.

Roe are more likely to develop perruque heads than other species possibly because, unlike most deer, they grow their antlers in winter and have more prominent pearlation than other species.

Perruque heads on deer

  • Perruque comes from the French term for wig
  • A deer with a perruque head does in fact look slightly as if wearing a wig
  • Perruque heads are rare and can be highly sought-after by some trophy hunters, particularly on the continent
  • In nearly all cases a perruque head is responsible for the buck’s long-drawn out death, rendering it blind and with accompanying infections.  Culling the deer gives it a fast and merciful death instead
  • Deer managers will cull a deer of this type at the earliest
  • It is said that some Victorian estate managers would shoot bucks in the testicles in the hope that a perruque head would result, to attract a wealthy client in search of an unusual trophy head.