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Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Most hunters are familiar with bearded turkey hens, which aren't that uncommon. How about female deer with antlers? Can it happen?
That is the question I received from Dick Taylor of Fincastle.
"My wife saw a really strange sight about a week ago," he said. "She spied a six-point buck in full velvet and right behind it was two small, spotted fawns following closely. She hollered for me, but all I saw was the buck's rear end as it went into the woods, but I got a good look at the fawns.
"First thing that came to mind was the possibility that the "buck" was really one of those antlered does. Never saw or even heard of small fawns following a buck around, let alone a six-pointer. Just wish they were about 25-feet lower on the hillside so my game trail camera could have gotten a photo of them.
"Have you ever heard of behavior like this, or witnessed such?"
My answer to Dick's question was to contact Matt Knox, deer project leader for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Knox, bless him, provided me with three pages of information on antlers.
Does can have antlers, but it is highly unusual, he said.
"Hunters typically encounter two types of antlered does, those with hard antlers and those in velvet. Does with velvet-covered antlers usually have normal female reproductive tracks and can bear fawns. Does with hardened antlers are almost always male pseudohermophrodites. These animals have female external genitalia but have male organs internally."
Knox recalls one eight-point doe killed by a hunter in Franklin County about a decade ago. He says he's never forgotten the response of the hunter who was asked why he shot a doe. The answer:
"Because she had eight points."
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