By Maurice King
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 was pretty tired and really didn’t want to, but I told him I would go for a short while. I went home, put on my camo, grabbed my trusty bow, and off we went.
We got to the woods between Mansfield and Bellville, Ohio, at 8 a.m. I climbed my tree and got settled in, with my brother about 100 yards to the east. Thirty minutes later, I was dozing off and my head was falling forward. Finally, I almost fell off my seat and decided it was time to go. I looked down for my hoist rope, and that’s when I saw a buck about 25 yards from the bottom of my tree. It was a beautiful, pure-white, pink-eyed albino. The deer was walking cautiously, stopping every couple of steps to take in its surroundings. It continued walking and got to about 20 feet from the bottom of my tree.
The first thing I noticed were the stunning pink eyes. Then I looked at the pure white body; the coat was perfect — not a mark on it. It wasn’t a big buck, only about 180 pounds, and the rack wasn’t impressive at all. At first I thought it was a balanced 6-pointer, but after further examination, I realized it had just 5 points.
Then I began a difficult internal debate. Even though this buck was very rare and unusual, I wasn’t sure I wanted to take it. I had been after a monster 14-pointer for the past two seasons, and it was difficult to let go of that quest. But with the albino buck sure to leave the area any second, I took aim.
I watched the albino for about 5 minutes, and at some point I got tired and had to relax. The buck never roamed more than 20 feet from my tree. During that time, it presented numerous shot opportunities, but I continued to debate what I should do.
When it finally walked out of sight, I wondered if I would ever see it again. More than that, I wondered if anyone would believe me.
Now completely awake and alert, I scanned and listened to my surroundings, hoping to see my big 14-pointer. Just then I heard something large running through the woods behind me. I turned and saw the albino buck running full bore right back toward my tree. When it got within 20 yards, it stopped and nervously scanned the woods. Then it slowly walked within 10 feet of my tree, positioning its body for yet another perfect shot opportunity.
I finally decided the second chance had to be a sign for me to take him. I raised my bow and put my top pin on the buck’s vitals. I released the arrow and made a perfect shot.
I took a couple of deep breaths and waited 10 minutes before unstrapping and climbing down. I met up with my brother, and he said, “Did you see that albino deer? Did you see its pink eyes?”
When I told him I got the buck, he didn’t believe me. He told me it had crept up behind him and got within 15 feet. When he turned to look, it got spooked and took off running, thus explaining why it had run back to me.
He asked me several times if I was serious about downing the buck. I assured him that I wasn’t kidding, and he was more excited than I was as we walked out of the woods.
My house is close, so we went there and waited an hour before returning to begin the tracking job. Back in the woods, we located the first signs of the blood trail. After about 15 minutes of tracking, my brother yelled, “Yes! He’s over here!” I approached the buck, and it was just as impressive as when I had first seen it; it even had a white nose and white hooves.
We took it to my back yard and snapped some pictures, then hung it up to clean it. Two different cars went by, and the people turned around and came back to see what we had. About 10 minutes later, three of my neighbors showed up; one had called the others when he saw the deer hanging. That was when I began to realize just how special the buck was.
I called a few hunter friends, and they immediately headed to my house. They urged me to contact the local game warden, Greg Wasilewski, because the Ohio Division of Wildlife would want to know about the buck. I called, and Greg called back within a few minutes. He said he wanted to examine the buck.
Later, we loaded up the deer and headed for Fin-Feather-and-Fur, a sporting goods outlet in Ashland. During the drive, people were following us and taking pictures, beeping and giving us the “thumbs-up” signal. We even had two cars follow us from the highway to the store to get a better look.
When we arrived, the parking lot was full of people who were there to take advantage of a big sale. We parked in front of the store, and people began to flock to the truck. I guess about 100 people gathered to look and take pictures. I no longer had second thoughts about the harvest; everyone congratulated me.
After checking in the buck, we headed back to Mansfield to meet the game warden. Greg said the buck was very impressive and confirmed it was a 100-percent albino, noting the pink eyes, white nose and white hooves. Greg said he had been a game warden for 10 years, and that was the first albino deer he had ever seen. He had seen other white deer, but never a 100-percent pure albino like mine.
I decided to have the buck made into a full body mount. I hope to eventually keep it where everyone can enjoy it for a very long time. I did a little research, and from what experienced people have told me, the odds of seeing a true albino buck are about one in 35,000; the odds of harvesting one are one in a million.
Editor’s note: While albino deer are beautiful, most biologists agree that there is no benefit to protecting them. Nevertheless, some states protect albinos, so be sure you know your state’s regulations before heading out.
This article was published in the October, 2008 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Join today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.