Five years ago, in 2017, Winfield, West Virginia, bowhunter Dave Powell came across something truly unique in the hunting world. When he took a closer look at several trail camera photos, he had to take a double look. He saw an unusual Whitetail deer roaming around on his Kansas hunting lease.
For starters, the whitetail’s nontypical, impressive rack was what immediately surprised him. By just a glance, he could tell that the rack had tons of points, pronounced drop tines, and kickers going every which way. However, there was more to this deer.
“I thought it was an antlered doe,” Powell recently told news outlets. “I’ve observed this deer…and on two separate occasions, I had seen [it] urinate in the same manner a doe would.”
What would ensue for Powell would be six long years of tracking the anomaly of a deer. During that time, he managed to collect several of its sheds. Over the years, he even developed a nickname for the creature, dubbing it “Bootsie.” According to Powell, he pursued it for 54 days straight during last year’s season.
At one point during his hunt, he had the atypical deer in his bow sights at a distance of 44 yards. However, he took a beat once he determined the shot wasn’t perfect. In another instance, he saw Bootsie bedded down just 20 yards from his stand. Then, once again, a good shot opportunity never presented itself.
Bowhunter bags unique hermaphrodite deer, originally mistakes it for doe
However, on the evening of September 29, 2022, magic started to happen. He saw Bootsie walking down a deer trail that led right past his stand. Then, just ten minutes later, it stepped out, and he pulled back on his bow and let it go at 20 yards. He took a moment of pause after the shot, feeling good about what he had just accomplished.
That same evening, he returned but wasn’t alone this time. He was joined by a blood-tracking dog and found his harvest in the brush about 70 yards from his stand. When he began the process of field-dressing the deer, he realized that the animal wasn’t an antlered doe. Instead, he looked at a hermaphrodite deer possessing male and female sex organs.
Afterward, Powell contacted well-known whitetail researcher John J. Ozoga. After their conversation, he confirmed that Bootsie was indeed a hermaphrodite.
“He couldn’t cite the statistics,” Powell told outlets, “but he said, ‘David, suffice to say what you’ve shot is a very, very rare deer.'”
In addition, Levi Jester, a big-game biologist with the Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks, reiterated the comments.
“I have been with the agency a little over five years now, and this is the first one I’ve ever even heard a rumor of,” Jester said. “As far as the odds of this happening, I’m not sure if anyone really has that kind of information, but it’s rare.”