Unicorns may not exist, but these deer may have you believing in the myth after all. A hunter in Celje, Slovenia and another in Spokane, Washington both harvested what can only be described as “unicorn” deer. Caused by a rare form of antler deformity or hormonal imbalance, the deer these hunters both took a deer with only one antler where two should be.
“I felt kind of lucky. I even played the lotto last weekend,” Amy Calkins told KULR8.
Calkins harvested her unicorn deer near Mt. Spokane late last month and quickly realized that not only did the deer have a single angler, it was also a doe. Does rarely grow antlers, but sometimes their headgear will match even good-sized bucks. Generally, however, antlers on a doe will be underdeveloped and still covered in velvet long after bucks have shed theirs.
But why do does grow antlers in the first place? This strange phenomenon occurs when the animals experience higher-than-normal testosterone levels. Despite the antlers, these does are usually still fertile and can bear fawns, although any bucks in the area may be a bit confused.
Calkins herself did a double take when she found that instead of bagging a spike buck, she took a unicorn doe instead.
Thousands of miles away in Slovenia, another hunter also managed to bag the deer of a lifetime. The roe deer—a male this time—was shot in the forests near Celje, the third-largest city in Slovenia. Instead of a bizarre hormonal imbalance, experts said that the deer’s single antler was likely caused by an accident early in the antler’s development.
“If they get hit by a car or get kicked by another deer, well, that can cause abnormal growth for the rest of the year,” Kip Adams, Director of Education and Outreach at the Quality Deer Management Association, told National Geographic.
From the picture of the deer’s skull, it seems that the single antler pedicle eventually covered the entire top of the deer’s head. Roe deer shed their antlers every year just like whitetails, so it’s likely that the deer would have had a much more normal-looking set of antlers next year.
What is the strangest deer you’ve ever seen? Feel free to share with us in the comments below.
Image is a screenshot of video by ShantiUniverse on YouTube