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Big Chimney man surprised by seven-point doe

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For nearly 20 minutes, Brenten Whipkey thought he had killed a seven-point buck.

But when he turned the animal over to begin field-dressing it, he saw something he hadn't expected to see.

"The first words out of my mouth were, 'Oh my gosh,'" said Whipkey, a pharmacist from Big Chimney. "My dad, who had brought a four-wheeler to help me get the deer out of the woods, said, 'What's wrong?' I said, 'This deer doesn't have anything down here. I think it's a doe.'"

Whipkey was right - sort of. The animal turned out to be what DNR officials called a "hermaphrodite deer," one that displayed both male and female characteristics.

"Every once in a while, we get reports of someone killing an antlered doe," said Paul Johansen, the DNR's assistant wildlife chief. "Hermaphrodite deer are pretty unusual, but they're not unheard of."

Whipkey said everything about his deer's reproductive system turned out to be female.

"It had full female genitalia and a milk sac," he said. "But at the same time, it had antlers."

It also displayed two characteristics usually found in rutting bucks - stained and stinking tarsal glands, and a swollen neck.

Whipkey killed the deer in the Coopers Creek area of Kanawha County on Nov. 20, the second day of West Virginia's firearm season for bucks.

"It was about 9:30 a.m. when I shot the deer," he recalled. "When I scoped it, all I saw was one forked antler and I thought it was a three-pointer I'd seen the previous day. Then it turned its head and I saw that its other antler had more points. I decided to shoot it."

Once the animal was down, Whipkey walked to where it had fallen, snapped a couple of photos and called his father to ask for help getting it out of the woods.

"While I was waiting, I never even touched the deer," Whipkey said. "Dad showed up in about 15 or 20 minutes. That's when we discovered my buck was really a doe.

"We decided we'd probably better get some pictures to document what we had found. I called the DNR even before I took my knife out of its sheath. That's when I was told it was a hermaphrodite."

The deer was doubly unusual because it had polished antlers. When does grow antlers, they ordinarily remain in velvet. Whipkey's doe had gone through the buck-like ritual of rubbing the velvet off on trees and polishing its headgear as if to prepare for the rut.

When Whipkey brought his kill to the game-checking station at Smith's Hardware in Big Chimney, it created a bit of a stir.

"The guy at the checking station asked if I'd killed a buck or a doe," he said. "I told him I wasn't sure, and that he should come and see for himself. He thought we were nuts, but then we flipped the deer over and he said, 'Well, all right then.'"

Whipkey decided not to have a mount made of his kill.

"I saved the antlers as a reminder, and I have the pictures," he said. "It's fun to have a story like this to tell and have the evidence to back it up."

The final memento of the unusual kill isn't nearly as permanent, but is no less enjoyable.

"I've made two batches of jerky out of that deer, and it tastes just fine," Whipkey said.

Reach John McCoy at 304-348-1231 or johnmccoy@wvgazette.com.


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