Rare Antlered Doe in Utah Uses Abnormality to Survive

Biologists believe the deer has a condition that causes her to produce high levels of testosterone. (Photo: Utah DWR Facebook)

A doe in southwest Utah is enjoying an unusually long lifespan due to a rare condition that causes her to grow and shed antlers like her male counterparts.

The doe lives in premium hunting territory known as the Paunsaugunt unit, but her antlers aren’t big enough to attract the attention of buck hunters hoping to tag a monster, and doe hunters likely misidentify her as a buck.   

“There’s more bucks on that unit [where she lives], and that kind of allows hunters to be a little bit more selective with what deer they are harvesting, and so a deer with antlers that size wouldn’t even be close — like even in the realm — of what a hunter with a tag for that unit is looking for,” Phil Tuttle, outreach manager with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR), told the Salt Lake Tribune.

So, he said, “The chances of that deer being harvested ever are really, really low.”

The DWR first learned of the doe when researchers netted her to track deer migration patterns. Biologists believe she has a condition that caused her reproductive organs to develop differently and created unusually high levels of testosterone.

Photo: Utah DWR
Photo: Utah DWR

The deer garnered attention on social media when the DWR posted images of the strange doe on its Facebook page. Along with jokes about which bathroom the deer uses, some commenters wondered whether the deer had ever reproduced and worried such a doe might contaminate the gene pool.

Tuttle told the Tribune that it was unclear whether the deer had ever reproduced, but Morgan Hinton, an intern at the DWR, wrote on Facebook that the doe showed zero sign of lactation at the time of capture, which means she had “probably never had a fawn.”

Other commenters wondered whether they would get in trouble for shooting an antlered doe. Tuttle said buck hunters wouldn’t have to worry since the deer does have antlers.

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The DWR does say, however, that hunters should try not to shoot deer with tracking collars.

“Because capturing and collaring deer is an expensive and time-consuming process, we ask that hunters avoid harvesting them,” the Utah DWR wrote on Facebook. “If a hunter does harvest a collared animal, we ask that they remove the collar without cutting it, pull the front two incisors (for aging purposes) and contact their local Division office for instructions on how to return the collar.”

Tuttle told the Tribune that the DWR doesn’t have any plans to study the doe, but he didn’t rule out future research, either.

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • dave July 10, 2019, 11:36 am

    Does with horns happen more often then you might think.If you visit the Lone Star beer museum in San Antonio,you can see a beautiful white tail doe with a very nice eight point rack.Very interesting

  • Iron Camel July 9, 2019, 10:38 pm

    Which bathroom, Now that’s funny!

  • Jerry S. July 9, 2019, 11:03 am

    Wow, now we have to contend with “trans-deer”……lol…

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