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Abnormal Whitetail Deer Coloration

Abnormal Whitetail Deer Coloration

We all know what normally colored white-tailed deer look like. Sure, the color of their hair may change seasonally, and even vary a bit between individual deer, but whitetails tend to be some shade of brown combined with white on the throat, belly, and under the tail. However, some color variations exists, and here they are:

Piebald: Piebald whitetails have patches of white hair but are otherwise normally colored. Piebalds are thought to be more common than albinos, and I have seen far more photos of piebald deer than albino deer. Depending on the part of the United States you are from, piebald deer are sometimes referred to as pintos.

Melanistic: Melanistic white-tailed deer are very dark, often approaching totally black. Melanism results from overproduction of pigment and is far less common than albinism. Hunters do see dark deer with some frequency, but to witness an actual melanistic deer is rare.

Abnormal Whitetail Deer Coloration
Left: A melanistic 8-point buck.

Albino: Albino white-tailed deer are totally white, and true albinos have pink eyes from a lack of pigement in their eyes. Albanism results from recessive genes and is more common than melanism.

Note: Protecting piebald, melanistic, and albino deer from hunting would concentrate those genes in a closed environment, but would probably have little to no biological impact in an open system (and probably would not result in an increase of these traits).



18 Comment(s)

  1. Can you come up with a piebald with out have piebalds in the back ground some where. or Albino?

    Jr | Jul 25, 2008 | Reply

  2. Just had two of our bottle fed fawns killed by neighbors dogs—insurance adjustor is sending check in the mail. Could someone help us out in our loss with info etc. to possibly replace them with two albino deer? We live in northern Minnesota (Warroad) Thank You, Jim H.

    Jim Hamlin | Sep 22, 2008 | Reply

  3. This is the wierdest thing I have ever seen in all my life. But I guess things happen. Like the almost pitch black deer. If they are going to be called white-tailed deer, then shouldn’t they look like one?

    Riley | Feb 18, 2009 | Reply

  4. We just saw 2 piebald twin fawns in northern Baltimore County, Maryland. Deer are very thick up here, but have never seen this coloration!

    Heather | Jul 28, 2009 | Reply

  5. We have a piebald deer in our backyard in Monroe, North Carolina. Took a long time to finally get a picture so everyone would believe me when I told them we had a deer that was spotted. Friend at church told me it was a piebald. Looked it up and fits exactly.

    Christine | Nov 22, 2009 | Reply

  6. My son shot his first deer today and it was a piebald button buck. I had never seen a deer like this before today. It is so exciting that he got his first buck, and it was a piebald to boot! Great job, Cory!

    RhondaM5 | Dec 6, 2009 | Reply

  7. I need some information. I have a whitetail on my property that I truely have no idea what is wrong with it. It’s super tiny really light brown and the places on the hind quarter that are suppose to be white are jet black, including the tail. If anyone has any info for m,e please post it thank you.

    Ryan | Dec 16, 2009 | Reply

  8. I live in Michigan and had the awsome opportunity to see such a beautiful deer. She was mostly white with jet black on rim of ears and the ears had long hair like a alpaca. I am a deer hunter but would not shoot such a magnificant looking animal. I see alot now on the net of fawns being shot, why ” for what”. My only regret is I did not have a camera.

    Michele Weaver | Nov 10, 2010 | Reply

  9. Recent research has shown that the albino’s actually do not have to have pink eyes to be true albinos. Just thought you’d like to know. Check this out for more info.

    Heather | Jan 9, 2011 | Reply

  10. I believe we spotted a large melanistic buck just beyond our property in Kerr county on September 22, 2010. Would like a confirmation. The video is can be viewed here.

    Jan Railsback | Jan 12, 2011 | Reply

  11. Others can probably comment on this better than I but, melanistic deer are pretty rare. My father shot one years ago outside of Austin. As a kid, I can remember it was some sight to see.

    Travis | Jan 13, 2011 | Reply

  12. I have raised whitetail deer since 1988. This year I had a doe give birth to a set of twins, and one is a piebald. Very neat! This is only the second one I have ever seen. A very healthy little piebald buck.

    Martin | Jun 29, 2011 | Reply

  13. We are seeing a return of piebald deer in our area after four year absence. A piebald fawn born this summer to a white-legged doe. Had several piebald deer in area up until 4 to 5 years ago, when most were killed off. Too many people found out about them after the local TV and newspaper articles ran. West Virginia.

    Lynn Pickens | Sep 21, 2011 | Reply

  14. Saw an adult piebald doe grazing along the Merritt Parkway this morning. We see many deer (and many dead along this road) but this is the first time in my life I’ve seen a piebald.

    Steve Wing | Nov 22, 2011 | Reply

  15. These pictures are of a rare breed. I harvested a piebald doe in 2009. She was beautiful, and I had a full body mount done, but THE TAXIDERMIST RUINED IT really bad. All I can say is make sure you know your taxidermist.

    charlotte cooper | Dec 31, 2011 | Reply

  16. Saw my very first piebald doe this morning. Quite beautiful. I’m not telling anyone where I saw her.

    R. Smith | Jun 3, 2012 | Reply

  17. Just got off the road from seeing a piebald doe. Completely white from the shoulders back and around the nose. First instinct was that I was looking at a caribou then realized it was a two-toned whitetail! Didn’t even know they existed.

    Dustin | Sep 25, 2012 | Reply

  18. Last Friday we had a piebald in our yard, did not know what he was. He was about two with antlers about 4 inches long. Got one or two pictures of him from inside. Quite unique. Central Pennsylvania.

    TNA | Jun 30, 2013 | Reply

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