ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Antlered Does

Updated on February 7, 2017

Female deer and elk with antlers are occasionally discovered by hunters and naturalists. While rare, antlered does occur regularly in most species.

Female elk with horn (1900)
Female elk with horn (1900)


In most species of deer (excluding reindeer) the female, or the doe, does not grow antlers. However deer are sometimes observed or hunted that are found to have antlers. Reports of antlered does can be found for blacktail deer, elk, moose, mule deer, red deer, roe deer and whitetail deer.

The phenomenon is sufficiently common that some state hunting regulation refer to a season for "antlered deer" rather than male deer--as an antlered doe is difficult to distinguish from a male at a distance.


A study of whitetail deer shot by hunters showed that between one third of one percent and one percent did not have the external appearance of being males and the majority of these were does.

However hunters may be less likely to take does because their antlers are typically less developed than those of bucks and so less desirable as trophies. So the real incidence may be towards the upper end of this range.

Doe with Horns (1891)
Doe with Horns (1891)

Velvet Antlers

Male deer begin to grown antlers each years after a surge of testosterone. Females can sometimes experience a similar surge or reduced affect of estrogen and they also possess the bony pedicles from which antlers are grown.

Most antlered does display only velvet antler and do not shed their horns. There antlers are often much smaller than in males, but some impressive exceptions have been spotted.

The causes of this phenomenon include: atrophy of ovaries (included in aged does), and deer that are hermaphrodites (a deer with one ovary and one testicle) or pseudo-hermaphrodites (a deer with no ovaries but that looks, externally, like a female). In these cases the doe is often sterile.

Conversely antlers can sometimes develop in conjunction with pregnancy and many time they have been seen on lactating does with fawns. It may be particularly associated with first pregnancies.

Polished Antler

An animal that seems lime a does and had hard polished antlers from which the velvet/skin has been shed are probably not biologically females. there are usual hermaphrodite deer or males deer that have not developed secondary sexual characteristics.

There are a few exception in cases where deer have a large tumor or other disorder that can produce the sustained testosterone levels needed for the antlers to fully develop and harden.


Does with antlers happen on a predictable basis when natural patterns of sex hormones are disrupted by tumors, genetic defect of advanced age. As such, while rare, they are pat of the normal diversity of the species.


  • Dixon, J. (1927). Horned does. Journal of Mammalogy, 8(4), 289-291.
  • Donaldson, J. C., & Doutt, J. K. (1965). Antlers in female white-tailed deer: a 4-year study. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 699-705.
  • Doutt, J. K., & Donaldson, J. C. (1959). An antlered doe with possible masculinizing tumor. Journal of Mammalogy, 40(2), 230-236.
  • Haugen, A. O., & Mustard, E. W. (1960). Velvet-antlered pregnant white-tailed doe. Journal of Mammalogy, 41(4), 521-523.
  • Seton, ET. Life-histories of Northern Animals: An Account of the Mammals of Manitoba, Volume 1. Scribner, 1909
  • Wislocki, G. B. (1954). Antlers in female deer, with a report of three cases in Odocoileus. Journal of Mammalogy, 35(4), 486-495.
  • Wislocki, G. B. (1956). Further notes on antlers in female deer of the genus Odocoileus. Journal of Mammalogy, 37(2), 231-235.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Shaddie profile image


      3 years ago from Washington state

      I really like this article.

    • psycheskinner profile imageAUTHOR

      Penny Skinner 

      5 years ago

      Longer hubs do better, overall. But a short hub on a niche topic often does quite well. So the ones that seem to have an audience get made longer.

    • David Trujillo profile image

      David Trujillo Uribe 

      5 years ago from Medellin, Colombia

      Probably the origin of the Unicorn legend. You should tell that to Kim Jong-un, the crazy kid ruling North Korea.

      By the way, I stopped by to take a look on how you handle references. Nice job. How are these short hubs performing on Google? I have noticed length has nothing to do Google Rank. Its mainly the title and from there on I guess visitor behavior.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)