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Florida Hunter Kills True Hermaphrodite Whitetail

January 31, 2007

Florida Hermaphrodite Whitetail DeerDeBary resident Joe Stokes had a shocker of a day, deer hunting on public land Nov. 12. He shot not one, but two, quality deer (and that’s not all there is to the story) during an early morning hunt on a wildlife management area (WMA). He’s not divulging which WMA.

But the really exceptional thing about Stokes’ hunt was one of the deer was a hermaphrodite, meaning it had male and female sex organs.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) senior wildlife technician Tim Farley logged the deer in at the area’s check station and noticed the anomaly. Furthermore, Farley checked in a 6-point the day before from the same WMA, which also was a hermaphrodite. After close inspection, Farley said both deer were 3½ years old and had never been bred.

“I’ve been doing this for 27 years, and I’ve only come across three deer that were ‘true’ hermaphrodites – those having all of the male and female sex organs,” Farley said. “The first one I saw was in 1992 from Taylor County and now two in one weekend.”

FWC biologist and deer management coordinator Robert Vanderhoof, Ph.D., said deer that are true hermaphrodites are extremely rare.

Stokes said he’s been hunting the area in Sumter County since 1962 and has taken some nice bucks there over the past few years, but nothing like this has ever happened to him in past hunts.

His honeyhole's an opening within a live oak hammock in the middle of a palmetto-blanketed, planted pine island, surrounded by cypress ponds. It’s usually difficult to access unless you’re willing to wade through chest-deep water amid a few big gators. But this season, Stokes said, the water’s as low as he’s seen it in 40 years, and he was able to get a ladder stand there before the season started.

The area’s used mainly by deer-dog hunters, and that morning, Stokes got to his stand 30 minutes before first light. A half-hour after daybreak, Stokes could hear the sound of hunters searching the roads for fresh buck tracks as their dogs barked from within their dog boxes.

He then saw a 9-point get up and start slipping along a trail between the pines and pond 50 yards away – probably triggered by the dogs’ barking. Stokes shot the deer once with his Browning 12-gauge, 3-inch magnum shotgun and dropped it where it stood.

That’s when Stokes noticed an 8-point jump up from behind some thick brush 60 yards away. The deer was looking around, trying to figure out where the shot came from, when Stokes downed him, firing once using .000 buckshot from the 32-inch barrel.

Farley measured the antlers of both deer, the 9-point (hermaphrodite) scoring 94 net Boone and Crockett points, and the 8-pointer netting 99 inches – Stokes’ best-scoring buck to date.

Both deer barely missed qualifying for Florida’s Buck Registry, but Stokes definitely took two trophies off public land that day, and – experienced a unique phenomenon.

“I’ve never paid money to belong to a hunting club, nor have I ever paid to hunt anywhere,” Stokes said proudly. “There’s lots of great public hunting land in this state, and these two deer are a fine example of what a $26 management area stamp can get you.”



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