Well, we received only four replies to my request for an explanation of what was happening with Testosterone Tilly (my nickname for Kent Halstead’s cam-tracker deer). Most agreed that this is an antlered doe, and from what we can tell, that assumption is probably correct. Kent himself has researched this topic thoroughly, and the consensus among most biologists is that on rare occasions a doe will produce enough testosterone to grow a set of antlers…but not enough to complete the velvet-shedding, antler-hardening, horn-dropping cycle of an actual buck.
I do find it fascinating that this deer has rarely been seen by Kent, a devout hunter who spends many, many hours in a treestand each fall. This in addition to massive campaigns devoted to shed hunting, scouting, food plotting and running a trail camera circuit. Since this deer is highly recognizable and would not be missed by Halstead, her wraith-like disposition begs the question: Do older does become as nocturnal and secretive as bucks, or is Tilly’s disappearing act just a function of her personality?
If nothing else, Tilly is an example of the endless fascination a “common” game animal like the whitetail can generate. She also serves as a poster girl for the appeal of scouting cameras; when they’re out there, it’s amazing what you can learn about your deer herd! With that in mind, I encourage any of you with interesting and/or exciting trail cam pics to send them in. They don’t have to feature antlered does for us to post them!