‘Tis the season for antlered does?
Antlered does are a fairly rare occurrence, but this hunting season has been particularly busy with these rare deer in the headlines.
A 22-point antlered doe from Billings Missouri is the latest in a series of antlered does to be taken this year. Other antlered does have made headlines already this season in Indiana, Arkansas and Georgia.
As is often the case with these rare deer, the lucky hunter, Curtis Russell thought he was sneaking up on a large buck in November. “I saw it in a field with a group of six other deer, but a coyote came in and busted me – all the deer blew out,” Russell told the Springfield News-Leader.
The next day was a different story, however. Russell was able to stalk within shooting distance of the deer with just twenty minutes of shooting light left. A single shot from his Remington 700 dropped the buck on the spot.
The buck sported a unique 22-point rack any hunter would be envious of, but this deer had another surprise waiting for Russell when he approached it.
“It took me a minute looking at all the tell-tale signs, but it was missing male genitalia,” Russell told the paper. “Its face wasn’t like a buck’s. It was real petite, and she had a great deal of fat on her.”
Antlered does are generally the result of a hormonal inbalance where the deer has higher testosterone than normal. Often these deer still have velvet on their antlers, as was the case with the doe shot in Indiana last month.
Russell’s doe had hard antlers, however. In any case, the condition is extremely rare. “Each year Missouri hunters take 250,000 to 300,000 deer and we only get a handful of antlered does reported to me,” Emily Finn, a biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation told the Springfield News-Leader.
The rarity isn’t lost on Russell who is having the unusual doe mounted of course. But he’s uncertain if it will end up on his wall with his other mounts or a museum due to the rarity.
There’s still a lot of hunting season left in most parts of the country, so we’ll have to wait and see if any more antlered does end up being taken this season.