A White Deer, Young Hunter and Mixed Emotions

Albino and piebald deer bring out a wide range of emotions and responses in hunters and non-hunters, so much so that giving one side or the other dibs as Feedback Champion would be tough to do.

Gavin Dingman of Michigan with his albino buck.

Gavin Dingman of Michigan with his albino buck.

I’ve seen hunters who flat-out go to the mattresses that an albino deer should be protected and not hunted or shot. Some have similar emotions about piebald deer. Other hunters, like me, see a cool deer and want to pull the trigger. White, brown, piebald … it’s a deer.

Non-hunters have similar responses in the “don’t shoot ’em” camp, albeit sometimes with a bit more colorful language (and often idiotic reasons). So it’s no surprise that a young Michigan hunter who killed a white 12-point buck with his crossbow is getting a hearty mix from both sides — support from hunters and screamin’ yammers from those who think he’s done something evil.

DDH Editor-in-Chief Dan Schmidt wrote about piebald and albino deer in this Whitetail Wisdom entry. Genetics are involved with both. Even the Michigan DNR in its statement (below) says “there is no biological reason to protect the genetic trait that causes a deer to be all-white or albino.”

It’s always a fascinating topic of discussion. Sadly, it sometimes can get out of hand with ignorance, emotion and passion overcoming knowledge and common sense.

Eleven-year old Gavin Dingman of Oceola Township, Mich., was hunting with his father, Mick, recently when they saw an albino deer. They’d seen it before, so it wasn’t a shock. Mick Dingman said several other hunters in the area were trying to get a shot at it, too.

Gavin downed the buck with his crossbow. The family is getting a full mount.

“He kind of feels like a rock star right now. Everyone is calling, all of the hunting shows and hunting magazines,” Mick Dingman said in this report with Livingston Daily.

Dingman should feel like a rock star. That’s a cool deer. Congrats!

UPDATE 10/22, 9 p.m. — Michigan DNR issued a statement about the albino buck following comments and, no doubt, complaints. Here is the statement in its entirety:

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Many of you have likely seen the recent news story about an albino buck taken in Michigan. We’d like to add some clarity to the situation and help answer some of the questions that have come up:

It is LEGAL to harvest albino, all-white or piebald deer in Michigan (piebald deer are white with some brown markings). Part of the confusion about the legality may stem from the fact that until 2008 albino and all-white deer were protected in Michigan and could not be harvested by hunters.

The protection of albino/all-white deer was lifted for several reasons – the rule put hunters in a difficult situation because it was legal to take a piebald deer, but it can be difficult to determine if a deer is all-white, albino or piebald from a distance; there is no biological reason to protect the genetic trait that causes a deer to be all-white or albino (in fact, the trait is certainly a disadvantage for avoiding predators); and the all-white (not truly albino) deer were escaped exotic animals with the potential to spread disease into the wild deer herd, something we would not want to promote by protecting these deer.

More information about the rationale behind removing the protection on all-white and albino deer in 2008 can be found at http://www.michigan.gov/documents/dnr/08-08_Antlerless_Open-Closed_FINAL_5.12.08_234917_7.pdf.

While it is legal to harvest an all-white, albino or piebald deer in Michigan, we understand and appreciate the many viewpoints on this issue from hunters and non-hunters alike, provided those opinions and values are expressed in a respectful way. Consistent with our Facebook page Terms of Use (located in the Notes section), harassment of hunters who have legally harvested game will NOT be tolerated on this page and the page moderator reserves the right to delete posts as appropriate.

Again, we appreciate respectful discussion on this topic and would be happy to answer any additional questions in the comments section. Thanks!

UPDATE: 10/23, 1:15 p.m. CST — Our pals at Realtree.com have a nice opinion, written by Tony Hansen, about the albino buck and how the young hunter and his family are receiving death threats.

Death threats? About a deer? What kind of sad, whacked-out world are we living in with people who make death threats to a kid and his parents about something legal? Good grief.

Check out Hansen’s blog entry here.

— Alan Clemons, Managing Editor

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