January 31, 2007
DeBary 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
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
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
“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.”