CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A six year quest for a Putnam County hunter in the state of Kansas finally came to an end on a perfect September evening.
“In 2017 I was scrolling through some trail camera pics and I came across this very unusual deer,” said Dave Powell of Winfield about the deer he set his sites on and gave the nickname “Bootsie.”
The deer had a bizarre rack, which reminded Powell of the flamboyant hats worn by famed rhythm and blue singer Bootsie Collins. Some friends who were on the Kansas lease with Powell agreed, and all of them had ties to Cincinnati which happened to be Bootsie Collins’ hometown. So, the nick-name stuck.
Although it was clear the deer was different, Powell had no idea how different.
“I thought it was an antlered doe. I’ve observed this deer for six years and on two separate occasions I had seen the deer urinate and it did that in the same manner a doe would urinate,” he explained.
Over the course of the next six years, Powell had managed to find the deer’s shed antlers on three occasions and at least two other sets he had seen when they were found by other individuals. The rack wasn’t hard to identify. It was littered with points and growing in several directions with drop tines and kickers all over. The deer would often stay in velvet longer than normal. It was a testament to the deer’s severe hormonal imbalance.
Powell was dedicated to taking the deer. In 2021, “Bootsie” started showing up in daylight pictures on November 4, causing Powell to pull off hunting a 190 inch buck in another area and he hunted 54 days straight for Bootsie. There were a few occasions where he was very close to closing the deal.
“During that time I had Bootise at 44 yards and had no shot, during another time I had it at 20 yards and had no idea it was laying right there until I took a step and it stood up,” Powell explained in a recent edition of West Virginia Outdoors. “Then in 2022 I first hunted September 22nd and was in the process of putting in place a set of climbing sticks and Bootsie stood up,”
Out of curiosity, Powell said the deer started walking toward him and came to within 42 yards and stopped.
“I had an arrow knocked and I contemplated a shot, but for me and the history I had with this animal it was very special and I didn’t want to take that shot for fear of something unfortunate happening. So I didn’t take the shot and he walked off,” he explained.
Then came September 29th, a week later. According to Powell conditions were perfect.
“It was a beautiful evening, things were right and I looked over and I saw Bootsie coming up the trail about 7:04. I quietly grabbed my bow and tried to calm my nerves. I had to wait about nine minutes and finally, after much anticipation, Bootsie walked into an opening at 20 and a half yards. I was able to make the shot, it felt good.,”
The deer lurched a bit, but then calmly walked into the brush and Powel listened until he couldn’t hear it any more. Powell pulled out and called a guy who had a blood tracking dog. He also called an officer with the Kansas Department of Wildlife who was aware Powell was after a rather unusual deer. Both arrived at the property about an hour later. They tracked Bootsie down and found the deer expired about 70 yards from where the shot was taken.
It was when Powell began to field dress the amazing critter he made the most shocking discovery. Bootsie wasn’t an antlered doe.
“Turns out Bootsie was a two for one. Bootsie was a hermaphrodite,” Powell said.
The deer literally was both male and female and possessed the sex organs of both sexes. Powell searched for signs of trauma which could have stunted the performance of a buck, but there was none and the field dressing proved it possessed equipment of both sides.
Powell contacted a noted researcher in Michigan who had written several articles about such things. John Osaga is now retired, but returned Powell ‘s call.
“He couldn’t site the statistics, but he said, ‘David, suffice to say what you’ve shot is a very, very rare deer,” Powell explained.
Powell said he was also pleased the local wildlife officer was on hand to witness the recovery as well.
“Fair chase is very important to me. I didn’t want anyone to think I did anything out of the ordinary. I also didn’t want anyone to think it wasn’t a free range deer or that it was a pen raised deer or a high fence deer,” he said.
The track took only a few minutes and suddenly a six year quest for a most unusual critter was over.
“I was ecstatic,” he said.