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Thread: antlered roe doe

  1. #1

    antlered roe doe

    As the title says - an antlered doe. I shot this during my final DSC2 stalk in December, with John Allan from Moray Outfitters as the AW (the photos are his). The ground was somewhere near Elgin - a large barley stubble field. Arrived at first light to see two deer out in the middle. Made our way into a shooting position, and saw what looked like a buck (with antlers) and a doe (no antlers). Shot the doe. The 'buck' didn't bolt, and I got a got a good look at its back end - clearly had a tush. So after a bit of faffing, got into position and shot 'her' as well. Turned out to be a very, very old doe - almost no teeth, and no signs of pregnancy when opend up.

    Here she is immediately after the shot:

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    And here is the skull boiled out (by John, who still has it, if anyone wants a closer look). A really remarkable head, and not something I expect to see again.

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    (All photographs property of and copyright to John Allan)

  2. #2
    Those are fantastic photos. Given that she was very old had she gone through the menopause and are the antlers the result of a lack of progesterone and other female hormones in the system - would they have hardened off into proper antlers or just become infected like a perruque head. I wonder if she had grown antlers in early years. I have shot and seen shot does with distinct knobs on their head but those are full on antlers.

    Anyway given her age and lack of teeth, a good cull animal.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Heym SR20 View Post
    Those are fantastic photos. Given that she was very old had she gone through the menopause
    Deer don't have a menopause as such. A true menopause is an abrupt switch from near full fertility to zero fertility well before the end of life. At the moment, we only have evidence for this in three species: humans, pilot whales and orcas, where females have 20-40 years of post reproductive life. What we might have in common with the two whale species is a bit of a mystery...

    Many other long lived species show gradual declines in fertility toward the end of life, but can and do continue to breed until death if they retain condition. What stops the oldest animals in these species from breeding is usually condition, and they show very short post reproductive life spans (on the order of one or two breeding seasons).

    Looking at the coronets on this doe, it looks like she'd grown antlers before. And she had probably bred - she was accompanied by what was probably her daughter from this year or the year before.

  4. #4
    SD Regular willie_gunn's Avatar
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    Excellent photos and a really informative post, thank you

    I have skulls from a couple of antlered does at home.

    One, that I shot, is really little more than pedicle size. The second, which my mentor shot, has proper antlers though not the size of yours. In this case it was the reverse situation though - it was seen from the front on, thought to be a poor quality buck, and shot. It was only on turning it over that the error was realised.

    They were also shot in velvet, I believe, which raises a question from me that perhaps someone can answer?

    Most of the antlered roe does I've seen have been in velvet. Do antlered roe does shed velvet?

    If not, and with antler growth so closely linked to testosterone production, is it then a continuous flow of testosterone in does - rather than the peaks and troughs with bucks - that results in them not shedding velvet and going into hard horn? Is the constant flow of testosterone not enough to trigger the velvet growth to stop?

    If that's the case, though, and the flow of testosterone is continuous, would they still shed antlers each season or not?

    Or would the testosterone in does still drop as the day length changes? If so, do roe does cast their antlers in winter like roe bucks, or do they cast in summer like the males of most other deer?

    I am away from home at the moment but will try to post some photos when I get back.
    Last edited by willie_gunn; 26-01-2016 at 15:13.
    O wad some Power the giftie gie us to see oursels as ithers see us!

  5. #5
    I shot a doe last season which at first sight I thought was a perruque , on performing the gralloch she was carrying but she had real big hoofs all turned up like alladins slippers , I hadn't seen anything like this before and sent the head to be boiled , it had big bumps the size of your fist but they was full of mush , other than this she was fit and healthy and had a previous years follower with her. It was explained to me that its a hormone imbalance similar to old ladies growing facial hair, true or false ??

  6. #6
    SD Regular teyhan1's Avatar
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    Here is my antlered doe.
    Shot in a January many moons ago.
    She was pregnant.
    Although significant tooth wear for the area she still had more years in her and was in good health

    Attachment 65859Attachment 65860

    Also a buck shot in the same area.
    Has significant ossification of the sutures between the antlers to the point that they can not be seen.
    Again in good health.
    He was shot in late April/Early May so is in hard antler.

    Attachment 65861Attachment 65862
    Last edited by teyhan1; 26-01-2016 at 16:53.
    “Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”........Dalai Lama

  7. #7
    Gosh - the doe even has a tine on one side!

    And that buck looks pretty odd.

    I wonder if it might be worth asking Admnin to sticky this so that people could just add photos of antlered does? It would make a fascinating archive.

  8. #8
    I have over the years shot three antlered does two of which were simple spikes in velvet the third was a full six pointer in hard antler, although a full six pointer the antlers did not have a great deal of weight being not much thicker than my index finger

    Examination of the genitals suggested that she was a normal doe.

  9. #9
    SD Regular willie_gunn's Avatar
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    Many thanks all - one of the most interesting threads for some time.

    Keep the photos coming
    O wad some Power the giftie gie us to see oursels as ithers see us!

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by willie_gunn View Post
    Many thanks all - one of the most interesting threads for some time.
    Willie - as to your previous questions about exactly what's going on with the endocrinology: I'm not sure we really have a clue. It's too rare to pick up clear trends, and as far as I know no one has ever taken hormone samples from antlered does (either during life to look at the cycle) or after death.

    I'm going to hazard a guess that each case will be more or less unique: a combination of genetics, condition, pathogens and possibly food (there is a hint in the literature that it's more likely when they're very well fed). Antlers seem to be a very plastic trait, extremely sensitive to small variations in hormone levels and condition. They also seem to be something where the default setting is 'on', and something needs to be upregulated to suppress their growth. And finally, unlike most other morphological traits, there are relatively low costs of getting it wrong: get a leg or a kidney wrong, and you're pretty much buggered. Get antlers wrong, and, well, you look a bit stupid and waste a bit of energy. In other words, the strength of selection acting to ensure correct sex-specific expression of the trait may be relatively weak, so mutations that switch them 'on' in females might not be selected out very efficiently.

    In the simplest situation, there might be NO hormonal differences between an antlered doe and a normal doe: the antlered one may just have a faulty regulatory mechanism, which would normally act to suppress antler growth in a female. If forced to guess, I'd say that was the most likely explanation in my case. She was a big animal - in her prime, she would have been an absolute beast. She had almost certainly bred successfully. And she had obviously lived a long time.

    What this would mean for cleaning and casting and the timing of the cycle is hard to say. Again, if forced to guess, I'd say that it might have ended up entrained with her oestrus and pregnancy cycle. Exact timing? Hard to say - but given that John knows and works his ground very efficiently, and she hadn't been shot yet, despite being a good candidate as a cull 'buck', then I'm going to guess that she didn't have antlers for much of the buck season. So: let's say no antlers April-Sept. She was in velvet in Dec, with no evidence of going perruqe - so probably did cast annually. That means she probably started growing them in the Oct. That also makes sense: from then on she would have avoided being shot as a doe. I'll then hazard that she cast in the run up to giving birth, when there are major hormonal changes. That leaves the question as to what triggered growth. Based on my estimated timing, something to do with foetal implantation and whatever happens to roe foetuses that puts them into suspended animation through the autumn.

    This is, of course, all seat-of-the-pants hand waving - but fun to think about.

    In other cases, it could be hormonal imbalances (again, multiple possible origins), and here you would start to expect to see other abnormalities, like problems with fertility and failure to cast.

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