It’s not every day you kill a nice 8-point buck. So where’s killing an 8-point doe rank? We’re going to put it No. 1 among deer-hunting oddities we’ve seen this deer season.
On Dec. 26, Tommy Clack, of Snellville, was hunting a 200-acre tract in Clarke County.
“I was really hoping to kill a doe,” Tommy told us… with a straight face.
“That was the first either-sex day in a while,” he said.
“I hadn’t been on the property in about a month, so I carried my climber to a spot where I killed a doe late last season. I got situated about 7:30, and at about 8:30 I saw a deer across the ridge. Then I counted six more deer. They started running around in circles like rutting deer. I was watching through my binoculars trying to find a buck.
“Finally, one little doe peeled off and crossed the ditch near where I was. Then another deer peeled off, and I saw a rack. It ran a little, then stopped, and I shot it in the neck.”
Tommy said when he and his hunting buddies went to retrieve the deer and load it on the 4-wheeler, one of them commented that the deer sure had a small “doe” neck.
“And it did, it had a little bitty neck,” Tommy said.
“Then I said, ‘Boys, we got something missing here.’”
There was nothing male about the parts on this 8-pointer.
“I called a DNR ranger and asked him how I should tag the deer,” Tommy said. “He told me to tag it antlerless, but I was thinking that wasn’t right, so I tagged it both ways. The day before wasn’t an either-sex day… would it have been legal on a buck-only day?”
Tommy said he ended up recording the deer both ways, both as a buck and doe, on his harvest record.
“I had already killed an 8-pointer, and I wasn’t going to kill another buck this season anyway,” he said.
Tommy said he had been running trail cameras on the property but had no pictures of his 8-pointer that turned out to be an antlered doe.
Steve Ditchkoff, one of the nation’s top white-tailed deer researchers, said he’s heard of does with antlers, but slicked out antlers is even more unusual.
“I personally have not run across does with hardened antlers,” said Steve, who heads up Auburn University’s famed Deer Lab. “We had a doe on a study site in the late 90s that we saw two different times. She had antlers that were always in velvet. The first time we saw her she was being harassed post-rut by three or four different bucks. Not sure if they liked what they saw or not.”
Steve said the next spring the velvet-racked doe had fawns.
GON reported on a 10-point doe in our January 1994 edition. It was killed Nov. 26, 1993 in Crawford County by James Richardson, of Macon. The deer had all female parts, inside and out, and a slicked out rack, not to mention jet black tarsal glands. The Crawford County doe weighed 210 pounds and the antlers were 5 1/2 inches around at the bases.
“The antlers are a function of circulating hormones. Sometimes does have enough testosterone to initiate the antler-development process, but not enough to cause antler hardening,” Steve said. “In these cases, it seems that they continue to slowly grow antlers that remain in velvet. But, it’s totally realistic for a doe to have high enough testosterone to initiate antler growth, and also have a subsequent rise in testosterone late in the summer to cause antler hardening. What I don’t know in this case is whether or not the rise in testosterone would impact female circulating hormones and possibly interfere with reproductive state—ovulation, heat, pregnancy, etc.”
If Tommy’s 8-point doe did go into heat, we are betting there were some very confused bucks during the Clarke County rut.