Ask The Biologist

Doe, Rei, Oh My!

Doe, Rei, Oh My!

By Bob Humphrey

There aren’t very many does in the record books, but here’s one.

QUESTION: I recently shot a hard-antlered doe in Monroe County, Ohio. It is a 16-pointer with a Buckmasters score of 173. I was wondering what causes does to grow antlers. Also, do they rub and shed hard antlers like a regular buck?

ANSWER: Antlered does are rare, although more common than most people probably think (about 0.1 percent). When they occur, they’re most often still in velvet. This is usually because they do not experience the same physiological response as bucks to waning daylight that results in blood flow to the antlers being cut off.

In other cases, it turns out the antlered doe is actually a buck whose testes never descended, or one that suffered some type of injury to its “junk.” Your situation is a little different, but also not unheard of. It could have been a doe that did not get enough testosterone to complete the velvet shedding process, or a buck that never developed external secondary sex characteristics but perhaps still had testes in its body cavity.

It’s even possible it was something in between. While most deer are born either male or female, aberrations or mutations do occur on rare occasions.

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Copyright 2021 by Buckmasters, Ltd.

Copyright 2020 by Buckmasters, Ltd