Interest in white-tailed deer hunting and management has increased significantly over the past 25 years. Most hunters realize that age, genetics and nutrition are they management trifecta when it comes to growing big, healthy whitetail deer. Genetics get a lot of attention in today’s world because of the prevalence of commercial deer breeding operations. As such, genes are most often mentioned when talking about the antler characteristics of bucks, but genes also determine a lot of other things too, such as a deer’s coat color.
Every hunter gets a little dreamy-eyed thinking about harvesting his or her ideal monster buck, but I suspect most hunters have also thought about harvesting an albino deer, and specifically, an albino buck. Albino deer are much more rare than big whitetail bucks, so it would be an awesome experience for most deer hunters to even see one in the field, let alone have the opportunity to shoot one. Most probably do not even consider it a possibility, but shooting an albino buck is exactly what one fortunate hunter, Donald Goodrich, did while deer hunting in Kentucky this past season.
The Big Albino Buck from Kentucky
“I’m mot so much trying to brag or get a picture of me in an article, I just want to give other people the opportunity to admire this buck. I understand that albinos are a sticky subject and people have their own views. However, as beautiful and rare as they are, the are not good for the overall health of the herd. They commonly have many heath issues. I’ve spent hours researching albinism in deer and found that most people are very misinformed.
People do not seem to know the difference between albino, piebald and white deer. Some people actually think a piebald is part albino! I have not been able to find much info on any record keeping on how many people have taken a true albino during a hunting season. Additionally, I have not been able to find anything about one larger than mine being taken in Kentucky. But like I said, there just is not much information on this subject.
As far as the hunt for this albino buck goes, it was an amazing experience that I will never forget. My cousin and I were running a little late driving to my parents 115 acre Kentucky farm that I grew up on. When we arrived, everyone was already gone and I couldn’t find the keys to the safe to get my rifle. I found that my little brother was still sleeping, so I snagged his .244 Remington (6mm) and took off for the creek bottom behind the house.
We stayed there for a few hours before we decided to leave and go get in a stand. But it was a little warm and much to windy to be deer hunting on top the ridge, so we left for the house to get some food and almost called it a day. But then I told him that there was not much wind in the creek bottom, and I’ve always told everyone, “That’s where I’ll find the big one, a deer could live in there for years and nobody would ever see him.”
We sat in the creek bottom about 100 yards apart for about another two hours. Finally, at about 11:00 am, after not seeing a deer all day and the weather becoming even more unfavorable, I decided to pick up and go meet up with my cousin and head for the truck. As I approached him, he had his back turned to me. I couldn’t believe he had neither heard me nor turned around. I saw him turn and look over his shoulder.
As he stood up, he started to point up the hill to my left. That’s when I heard something, and there the albino buck was, about 50 to 60 yards away. I had only a few seconds to see him before he was going to take a few steps and disappear into the cedars forever. I raised my rifle, squeezed the trigger and fired, missing a cedar the buck was walking behind buy only an inch or two. The albino buck dropped and did not move. I asked myself, “What just happened?”
I was then having a conversation with my cousin for a good 30 to 40 seconds when straight in front of me was a white deer walking strait at me. I couldn’t figure it out. Two albino deer? Then, I looked up the hill to my right and saw that the deer I had shot was gone. At about 20 yards, as he was walking straight at me, I put another round into the albino buck’s chest.
He never even blinked, did not stumble, didn’t miss a step. Just like nothing happened. He just kept walking toward me like I wasn’t even there. He got to about three feet away from me as he walked past me. I could have pet him as he went by—just like nothing was wrong. There was no noise besides his hooves on the creek rocks. It was like an out of body experience. He walked about another 20 feet and laid down.
There was no “big buck jig” or “high fives.“ There was no smiles or “woohoos.“ To me, deer hunting is not about rednecks out in the woods getting drunk and killing things. It’s about being a part of our natural world. It’s about connecting with our ancestors, our friends and family, and ourselves. Hunting is raw and gruesome, but it natural and beautiful. What I experienced was a gift that no picture or a mount on the wall could ever compete with. It was just amazing.
I have never been a trophy whitetail deer hunter. I found it confusing as to why I would get the opportunity to have something so rare and so beautiful. My mom asked me how I felt about it. I told her “I don’t know. Kind of bitter sweet.” She told me that there is not anyone else that would have such a true understanding and appreciation for such a beautiful animal and that he was mine for a reason.”
Donald F. Goodrich III