A New Brunswick hunter believes he shot and killed a rare hermaphrodite deer.

Shawn Hanlon said he bagged what he thought was a young buck with stubby antlers while hunting along the northern edge of Fredericton on Thursday afternoon.

"I could only take a buck, only with an antler on it," he said, referring to the special licence needed to hunt deer without antlers in New Brunswick.

Only a limited number of permits are issued in an attempt to grow the population by protecting the does.

"She did have an antler on it, a nice size antler," about a 20-centimetre rack and small nubbins of new antler growth in front, said Hanlon, 24.

"She was actually just like a buck. She was trailing about 25 yards behind the other deer, nose to the ground, pawing the ground," he said.

"So I took her, and that's when I found out the bad news."

When Hanlon turned the deer over, he discovered it had no male genitalia.

"It's a real surprising deer," he said. "I was really in shock."

Testosterone can cause does to grow antlers

Retired wildlife biologist Gerry Redmond hasn't seen the animal, but doubts it's a hermaphrodite.

From the description, Redmond said, the deer is most likely female with excess testosterone.

Provincial deer biologist Joe Kennedy also said does sometimes sprout antlers because of excessive male hormones.

He said it's uncommon, but the department records one or two such animals every year.

So far this season, three other does with antlers have been registered, all in the Miramichi area, he said.