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No Regrets

KingBy Maurice A. King III     

-- First, let me start by acknowledging that there might be some people who feel I should not have taken this deer. I would just like to say that I’m a very ethical person. I respect the environment and wildlife very much, and I have no doubt that, given the same opportunity, many hunters would’ve done as I did.

On Sunday, Oct. 14, 2007, at about 6:30 a.m., I was on the way home from work when my brother called to ask if I wanted to go deer hunting. I really didn’t want to because I was exhausted, but I told my brother I would go for a short while.

I went home, put on my camo, grabbed my trusty bow and joined him. We got in the woods between Mansfield and Bellville, Ohio, around 8:00. Soon thereafter, I was aloft in my treestand. My brother was hunting about 100 yards east of me.

Within 30 minutes, I was fighting sleep. When I almost tipped off my seat, I decided it was time to go. But when I looked down at my chest to undo my safety harness straps, I saw this beautiful pure white, pink-eyed albino buck about 25 yards from the bottom of my tree.

It was walking slowly and cautiously, stopping every couple of steps to survey the surroundings. Eventually, it was a mere 20 feet from my tree.

The very first thing I noticed was its stunning pink eyes. They looked like the eyes of someone with real bad allergies. The buck’s coat was perfect; not a mark on it, although the deer wasn’t all that big (only about 180 pounds). The last thing I noticed was the rack … not so impressive.

I wasn’t inclined to take it, at first. I wanted something bigger – perhaps the 14-pointer I’d been hoping for two years to harvest. I watched the albino for about 5 minutes, at slam-dunk range the whole time. I then remembered I had my cell phone (which takes both video and stills) in my pocket. I slowly maneuvered it into my hand, but by the time I was able to use it, the unusual deer had drifted farther away. When it finally walked out of sight, I wondered if I would ever see it again. I also wondered if anyone would ever believe me.

Completely awake and alert at that point, it wasn’t long before I heard something large running through the woods. I turned, hoping to see the elusive 14-pointer, but it was the albino buck running full bore right back toward me.

When it got within about 20 yards, it stopped and nervously scanned the woods. After about a minute, it slowly walked within 10 feet of my tree, stopped and turned, offering me yet another opportunity for a perfect shot.

I finally realized I was destined to take that buck. So I did.

After the shot, I took a couple of deep breaths and waited about 10 minutes before unstrapping myself and getting down. I met up with my brother, and he excitingly asked, “Did you see that albino deer? Did you see those pink eyes?”

When I told him I’d arrowed it, he didn’t believe me.

He said the buck had crept up within 15 feet behind him. When my brother turned to look, he spooked the deer, which took off running (back toward me). He asked me several times if I was serious about downing the buck.

Not wanting to push things, we walked out of the woods at that point. My brother was more excited than I was. I thought he was making a big deal of it because I had not yet realized what an awesome animal I had. I was actually having second thoughts about burning my tag and having to wait another year for a crack at the 14-pointer.

We went to my house nearby. After about 30 minutes, we returned to the woods and picked up the trail. Fifteen minutes later, my brother yelled, “YES … It’s over here!”

I took out my camera, snapped some pictures and tagged the buck. The drag from woods to my house was difficult. That buck felt like a 275-pounder.  While the deer was hanging from a tree limb in the yard, two different people drove by, turned around and came back for a closer look. Neighbors and friends arrived soon afterward.

After cleaning up the buck, we took it to Fin-Feather-and-Fur, a sporting goods store in Ashland. During the drive, people fell in behind and passed us, beeping and giving the thumbs-up. We even had two cars follow us from the highway to the store to get an up-close look.

At the store, between 80 and 100 people gathered at the truck to look at and photograph the animal. Everyone was congratulating me.

I’d called the local game warden. When we met up with him, he also congratulated me and said he’d never seen a pure albino before.

Based on research I’ve done and from what experienced people have told me, only 1 in 35,000 whitetails will be albino. The odds of actually harvesting one are closer to a million-to-one, which helped me decide on a full-body mount.

-- Maurice A. King III  

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