Hunter Kills 5-Footed Doe

Robby Alley didn’t know what to think about this Meriwether County doe.

GON Staff | February 1, 2008

Robby Alley from Jonesboro was trying to fill his freezer before deer season was over. It was late morning on Dec. 31, and Robby sat looking out across a clearcut on the Double-D Hunting Club in Meriwether County.

“Three does came through, and I shot two out of the three,” said Robby.

When Robby walked over to look at his two deer, he saw what appeared to be another hoof growing at the bottom of the right-front leg. A five-footed deer?

“Everybody asked me if I could hear it coming,” Robby joked. “I wasn’t really sure what to think at first. I had never seen anything like it.”

The doe’s additional digit stems from a birth defect called polydactylism.

“This is caused by a combination of a genetic abnormality and a birth defect,” said Charlie Killmaster, WRD biologist. “The defect causes an overstimulation of the tissues at the limb buds during embryonic development. It is unlikely that this trait was inherited from the parents.

“The first recorded incidence of this in North America was in 1970 in Ontario, Canada. This is very uncommon in whitetails, however, this is the second report I’ve seen this season in Georgia. This trait appears to be much more common in red deer.”

The other polydactylism report came from Putnam County. Polydactylism isn’t fatal to deer and doesn’t affect the wonderful taste of venison.

If you see anything weird in the woods this spring, or shoot any 3-footed gobblers, take a picture and send it to [email protected].

Robby Alley of Jonesboro killed this five-hoofed doe in Meriwether County on Dec. 31. The doe had polydactylism, causing it to grow the additional hoof. The trait, which causes additional digits to grow, is uncommon in whitetails; it’s more common in red deer.

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