Msg 1 Posted: 02:57 PM 02/01/07 (CST)
This one is for the deer hunters. Yeah, the people aren't the only weird ones in Florida . . .|
Oh, deer! DeBary hunter's trophy buck is also a doe
By Kevin Spear
Posted February 1 2007, 1:17 PM EST
DeBARY -- Among white-tailed deer, there are bucks and there are does.
But hunter Joe Stokes bagged something in between. He shot a hermaphrodite, a deer sporting both male and female sex organs.
"I don't think I've ever said that word before," said Stokes, 53, a DeBary resident and Orlando city surveyor. "I had to look it up to spell it."
Stokes killed the deer while hunting on state land in Sumter County. When he dragged his deer to a game-check station, he and wildlife officials did a double-take.
"Did you take a good look at this?" asked Tim Farley, a biologist and state senior wildlife technician with the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Stokes and his hunting buddy, plenty excited already by the large deer with impressive antlers, stepped in for a closer look at something even the most veteran experts hardly ever encounter.
"When I went to weigh it," Farley said, "I lifted its legs and I saw . . . " The biologist named off all the parts.
"We all said, 'Wow.' " Stokes said.
The real kicker is that the day before, another hunter arrived at the game station toting a smaller, antlered deer that also was a he-she. There's no telling if the deer were related, but two in the same area is almost unheard of.
Is this an epidemic?
"Two doesn't make a trend," said Robert Vanderhoof, who directs deer management for the state wildlife commission and has confirmed five instances in his 30-year career in three states.
From time to time, deer are bagged around the country that have female and male attributes, but few have full sets of both.
"A true hermaphrodite is pretty rare," said Vanderhoof, adding that little is known about the cause. "Some genetic anomaly, I guess," he said.
Although Stokes shot his deer in November, it took until last week for news of the double-gendered encounter to get out of the Sumter woods to the agency's administration office in Tallahassee. Folks there spread the word.
In the meantime, Stokes did something he's never done: mounted the deer's head, along with that of another deer that he shot moments after downing the hermaphrodite.
He also decided to partake in his exotic treat.
"Oh, we've been dining on it regularly," Stokes said with a chuckle.
How does it taste?