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January 09, 2008

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Would You Shoot an Albino Buck?

I have deer hunted in Buffalo County, Wisconsin for over 20 years. Buffalo is a well-known destination for whitetail nuts, as it boasts more B&C and P&Y entries than any  county in the nation. I’ve traveled enough to say that there are probably more mature whitetails per square mile living there than anywhere I’ve been. I have also traveled enough to say there are few tougher places to kill a mature whitetail buck than Buffalo County.

What is less widely known about Buffalo Co. is that albino deer are fairly common there. In fact it’s entirely possible—after talking to the right people—to drive around some summer evening and see a pretty good wad of white deer feeding in soybean and alfalfa fields. While there’s no such thing as an ugly deer, albinos are a pretty darn special sight. The people of Wisconsin think they’re so special that you can get into big trouble for shooting one.

Of course, right across the Mississippi River from there is my home state of Minnesota. Kill a white deer here and you’ll get your picture in the paper, and not in the “district court report” section.  Protecting albinos is an interesting thing. Most of us know by now that these are genetically inferior deer that in most cases are poorly equipped to survive in the wild. Indeed, some of my Wisconsin friends have found albino bucks dying in the middle of summer from any of a host of diseases they’re susceptible to. Naturally, there are exceptions. About five years ago, I was hunting Buffalo and rattled in a 3-1/2 year old albino buck with an 8-point rack. That deer is still alive. He is now a monstrous 10-point with candelabra antlers that appear anything but genetically inferior.  People drive for miles to check him out, lining up along his favorite fields with spotting scopes sprouting from their truck windows.

This background made me perk up when reader Maurice King, from Mansfield, Ohio, sent us the accompanying photo. Maurice shot an albino buck with his crossbow this October, in a state where it is legal to do so, and he's proud of his unique trophy. It's the way we should all feel about every whitetail we decide to harvest.

Albino_deer_033

Naturally, this story got me to thinking about rattling in that beautiful white deer awhile back. Had that hunt occurred in Ohio (or indeed, my home state), where albinos are fair game, would I have shot the buck?  I have zero problem with states that allow albino deer to be shot. I also completely understand that some people couldn’t drop the hammer on such a deer. That said, I can honestly say that I don’t know what I’d do. But I bet some of you guys have stronger convictions—one way or the other—than I. So let’s hear ‘em.

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Comments

Aislin

Honestly people. Albinos are more likely to get killed than any other deer because they can't hide. So if they survived for that long without being killed you should leave them alone. The odds are stacked against them anyway. Also, isn't the whole point of hunting nowadays to outsmart a hard to find elusive creature? What's the sport in shooting something that is a huge walking neon sign? There isn't. Keep the sport a sport, not about a trophy. If you want a white deer hanging on your wall so bad buy a fake one. But all a white buck says about someone is that they are a lazy hunter and will go for the easy kill.

kevin

I don't where that guy is hunting or what kind of deer he's hunting that can't hide but I'm hunting a 2 1/2 year old, mostly white piebald 8 point buck that is more elusive than most deer around the farm i hunt. We only saw him a few times last archery season as a 4 point, then he dissappeared for most of rifle season. He's back this year as an 8 point. Had him at 60 yards the other day but only got a shot with the camera. I would dissagree with the previous guys statements given the fact that there is alot of hunting pressure in western Pa. and that the farm I hunt is open to public hunting. So if you want to call me lazy...so be it. Twenty yards closer and he's going down baby and will look great in my trophy room!

Scott

Are you sitting down?? This morning at first light, I spied what I thought was a calf coming out of the forest into a meadow across from where I had my deer stand. "What is a calf doing out here...and in fact it is walking way too slow and deliberate to be a calf. What the heck is that??It was about 150 yards away and I didn't have my binocs... I called it in and to my suprise it was a massive 10-point albino buck!!! It was walking around like he owned the place. Mind you, this is the very first time I had ever manned a deer stand as a bowhunter (only started gun hunting last year!) and I really couldn't believe what I was looking at. And because this was in Wisconsin (won't tell you where) I thought it was illegal to shoot them. Besides this was also an "earn-a-buck" area and I hadn't gotten my doe yet. I had him in my sights at 30 yards and knew I could drop him, but decided to take the high road (and avoid unwanted press coverage and jail time) and passed on him. He stuck around my stand for about 30 minutes before disappearing again into the forest. It was the first time in my life I got a deer within kill range with gun or bow, and it turned out to be this creature that I will always remember as the Ghost Buck...

Bean

I would not because shooting any creature-especially an albino!- has as much as a right to live as anyone. So, no, I would not kill an innocent creature.

Update on my Ghost Buck. It turns out someone got the beast with a bow just last week - it was in the local Waukesha, WI paper's front page! Check out WTMJ4's (Milwaukee)website and you'll probably see a picture of it!

steve

I've always heard around hunting camp(Pa.)that if you shoot the "ghost deer" you'll be dead within a year! It would indeed make a unique trophy, but i've also heard that the meat would be fouled too. Not sure i believe either of these statements but i'd have a tough time. I guess i'd have to make up my mind when the shot presented itself. If we believe they are genetically inferior we should harvest them for the good of the herd, right? But all of the alleged consequences seem a little harsh to me. Might let'm walk.

Francesca

I understand why men like to take down the big pretty ones. However isn't that counter-productive because you are leaving the scrawny less desirable buck to pass on their unimpressive genes. I want to try my hand at hunting since I enjoy meat I feel I should experience where it is coming from. However don't hunters ever feel wow thats a beauty I should let it live so it can make more amazing deer? I am very greatful that the impressive albino buck seems safe to make more magnificeint creatures such as itself for future people to enjoy. I want to breed horses and study bloodlines as a hobby so my veiw may be biased as from where I am coming from. Also understanding the less there are of something the more desirable however from specifically going after stronger bucks that seems to eliminate the possibility of strong bucks in the future slowly weakening the blood of the breed. Unless hunters only hunt the stag after mating season?

brad

i have hunted for years,my family didnt,a friend took me once i was hooked. i am proudly taking my 12yr. old deer hunting this year for his first hunt. i see absolutely nothing wrong with killing any legal game as long as you are eating or donating the meat to someone who can and will eat it. i will proudly pass this on to both of my children. hunt safe, legal, and enjoy the prosperity. last year my son helped me to make jerky.... yeah and if it is a mount or white, i say go for it.

chris

I would like to believe that I wouldnt harvest the animal unless it toted a trophy rack. I dont believe in any sort of bad luck or sacred inidan legend but I do believe that an albino deer is an amazing sight to see and its genetic rarety makes it quit a special thing. I wouldnt want to take that opportunity away from other people who enjoy the outdoors.




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