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Rare deer harvested in King George County

Dec. 23 dawned quite chilly with the remains of the previous week’s snow still covering the ground in many places at Lambs Creek Farm. The cold did not deter Rabah Sbitani from climbing into a deer stand that he had taken the time to hang on his father’s farm.
Sbitani, an educator at Massaponax High School, had taken the time to do some shooting with a slug gun the previous week and was determined to get a deer. He had done some scouting to find out exactly where to hang the stand and be within range of deer crossings. His homework paid off.

At approximately quarter after 7 that morning, just as the sun was throwing some light into the sky, he could make out a buck, a doe and a few young ones. The pasture adjacent to the woodline where Sbitani was sitting in his stand was covered in snow, except for a patch of grass that the sun managed to melt off. The deer were grazing that patch, which was in range of his slug gun. The doe and younger deer moved off, but the buck turned toward Sbitani a little, giving him a broadside shot at approximately 50-60 yards. His shot ran straight and true and the deer crumpled on the spot. The shot could not have been placed more accurately. The heart was stopped cold and the deer never suffered.
When Sbitani walked up to the deer he immediately noticed that something was odd about it. The antlers were non typical, to say the least, and they still had velvet on them. Most deer have long lost their velvet by the end of September. To have velvet still on them in December is unheard of.
A little research revealed that the deer’s condition was caused by the fact that the deer’s testicles did not descend properly or it did not have testicles. A neighbor to Sbitani, Mr. Purks, relayed to me that the testicles were not descended and not readily visible. Mike Dye, VDGIF wildlife biologist, helped us come to that conclusion saying that a deer that is still in velvet at this time of year and had female sex organs would be a hermaphrodite. Since this deer did not possess female sex organs (and male sex organs) it was not a hermaphrodite. A hermaphrodite is an animal that has both female and male sex organs. The deer cannot reproduce and is very rare. Dye went on to explain that VDGIF might hear of one or two deer like this per season. So, Sbitani’s deer was truly a rare deer given that the past few years Virginia deer hunters have culled approximately a quarter million deer out of the herd each year.
Because the deer’s testicles did not descend properly, the deer did not produce enough testosterone to shed the velvet and harden the antlers. Instead the antlers kept growing. While the antlers on this particular deer were not tall or very wide, the bases of the antlers were quite large as you can see from the pictures. The split brow tines and velvet on the antlers makes the deer look very odd too. However, although Sbitani does not claim or desire to be a trophy deer hunter, he was in the right place at the right time to get a true trophy deer that very few hunters will ever see much less hang on the skinning pole.
Although I have been deer hunting more than 30 years now I have never seen such a deer and I was taken aback when the rack was displayed for me. All in all, Sbitani got his Christmas deer meat and a very unique deer and the rest of us were able to learn about it. I am told the tenderloin on that deer tasted very good. I have no doubt it did, and I am pleased to have been able to see the deer and share Sbitani’s story with you. Congratulations to Mr. Sbitani on his deer!

Mark Fike

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