Whitetail Hunting photo

The first shock for Wisconsin hunter Ben Johnson was the sheer size of the doe he shot. The second shock came when he started to field dress it.


“It was really tough getting that first incision made,” Johnson says. “When I finally did, this little burst of fluid came out…and then a small hoof. I couldn’t believe it.” Before he finished, Johnson, who was hunting in Waupaca County, pulled two fawns from the doe. “They were both dead, their skin was silky white, and their hooves were white, too. There were about 50 little golf-ball sized tufts of hair on each.”

Johnson was convinced the fawns were still-born last spring and remained in the doe until he killed it on Thanksgiving Day. But when I showed the photo to the QDMA’s Kip Adams, a seasoned wildlife biologist, he was skeptical.

“I suppose there’s a small chance of that, but it’s much more likely that the doe would have expelled the fetuses if they were still-born last spring or early summer,” he said. “I’m betting that the doe was just bred extremely late. Eighty percent of fetal growth occurs during the final trimester of pregnancy, so it’s not odd that they don’t have hair yet. If he shot the doe on Thanksgiving, I’d say these fawns would have been born around Christmas.”

Adams says that backdating from then would put the doe’s conception date sometime in June, when bucks are still in velvet. When I asked Adams if he’d ever heard of breeding taking place that late for a northern whitetail, he said, simply “No. This is the first time I’ve ever seen anything like this. It’s extremely rare.”