According to Field and Stream, Steven Johnston, a 46-year-old general contractor from Portsmouth, Virginia, was going on a hunt when he saw a whitetail deer walking below his stand.
He was gonna let it pass, until he noticed one obscure thing…
Three tall tines sticking straight up on the deer.
He then realized he couldn’t let this one get away:
“My wife Nicole wanted to do something artistic with a skull mount– something she could do a design with. I figured this deer might make a good one.”
As he was in his 30-foot high stand in a pine tree, he pulled his 12-guage Beretta and took the deer out at close range.
That’s when things started to get weird.
He said to himself:
“What the hell did I just shoot?”
He noticed the deer actually had nine tines sticking straight up, with one with dried velvet still attached.
After further examination, he discovered 11 more tines.
He then snapped a few pictures, and hauled the deer back to the truck on the 5-acre strip of land he was hunting on, about a mile from the James River in Isle of Wright County.
Johnston noted that although the property is small, he’s killed a number of trophies there over the years.
And when he thought things couldn’t get weirder, he realized that the deer with 20 tines was actually a doe.
Unsure what to do, he alerted the conservation police officer, who told him he still had to use a tag.
He then got emotional about the obscure shot, and decided to dedicate the doe to his late stepfather, Steve Cohn, the man who taught him how to hunt at a young age.
“I’m just a poor boy who lives in the woods. I credit that to him. He was an amazing man.”
Lindsay Thomas Jr., chief communications officer of the National Deer Association, took a look at the photos, and said that:
“There are a number of kind-of-related oddities in antler growth that result when deer, for whatever reason, produce too much or too little testosterone.
Bucks born with underdeveloped testicles produce too little testosterone, so they grow antlers that are always in velvet and never go through the annual cycle of hardening and shedding.
Hermaphrodite deer are born with the reproductive organs of both sexes and also produces antlers, it’s usually a result of elevated testosterone production. She may be a normal doe in other ways and capable of reproducing.”
Although all Thomas had to judge was by pictures, he said it appears that the doe more than likely had an abnormally high level of testosterone production due to some kind of internal deformity.
Johnston closed it out by saying:
“I have never in my life killed something like this. My taxidermist said he’s never seen anything like it in 40 years.”