Have you ever encountered a white and brown deer during one of your hunting trips? Chances are, you’ve just seen a rare piebald deer in your hunting area.
There are many questions floating around about this animal. How rare are piebald deer? What causes their discoloration? Is it illegal to hunt them?
Today, I will answer all these questions and give you a crash course on this wonder of nature.
Types of White Deer
Before we get into discussing how rare a piebald deer is, I think we need to discuss the general types of white deer first. Here are two types of white deer that you may encounter during a hunt:
Just like humans, there have been reported cases of albino deer, too. These deer are very rare, and there has been little to almost no accurate data on just how many albino deer exist in the wild at any given time.
One reason for this may be because albino deer find it harder to blend in with its surroundings. Unlike whitetail deer that can use trees and foliage to hide themselves, albinos would usually stand out in the woods because of the color of their coat.
More than that, albino deer have pink, weak eyes. Their poor eyesight may work against them when spotting danger, making them vulnerable prey to hunters and natural predators.
Leucistic or Piebald Deer
Leucism is a genetic trait that causes most animals—deer included—to lose pigment on their whole body, or at least some parts of it. This causes a paleness or discoloration on the affected coat.
Unlike an albino, a leucistic deer does not have pink eye, and their white coat is caused by a partial loss of different pigments and not just melanin.
While there are leucistic deer that are white all over, some may have spots, brown splotches, and some may even be half and half—that is, half white and half brown. The piebald deer falls into the latter category.
How Rare is a Piebald Deer?
A piebald deer is definitely rare, if you compare it to a regular whitetail deer. However, I think it’s safe to say that it’s more common that an albino deer. Reports claim that there are less than 1 percent piebald deer in the entire deer population and definitely less albino in the wild.
To know if you’re looking at a piebald deer, you may want to keep an eye out for these characteristics:
- A mixture of white and brown patches on its coat—ranging from small white spots to an almost completely white coat
- Brown eyes and nose (piebald deer may also have a nose with a high bridge, more commonly called a Roman nose)
- Black hooves
- Shorter legs than an average whitetail
- Scoliosis, or a slight arched spine
- Short lower jaw
To Hunt or Not to Hunt a Piebald Deer?
There are many existing legends about hunting a piebald deer, such as killing one will bring you bad luck on future hunts or that it will guarantee your death within the year.
If you’re not superstitious, you may still want to check your state if it’s legal to hunt piebald deer before you go on shooting them. For instance, Iowa made it illegal to hunt deer that are at least 50 percent white, while Kentucky generally allows it.
Based on my research, I’ve found that hunting piebald deer does not really affect its population all that much. Because their condition is a product of a recessive gene, killing a few piebald deer a year won’t really do much damage on a deer’ population.
Some hunters even think that hunting piebald deer is a good thing because it minimizes the risk of them breeding and passing on their defective genes to a new batch of fawns. Remember: Many piebald deer suffer from one or more genetic defects, like scoliosis or deformed internal organs.
Personally, I like looking at piebald deer in my camera and I usually let them roam, especially if they’re still fawns. I may shoot one if it’s mature enough, but generally, I like to leave them alone.
Whether you want to hunt them or not is really up to you—just make sure you’re not breaking any hunting laws while you’re doing it.
A piebald deer, while indeed rare compared to the average whitetail, isn’t as rare as an albino deer. Does this mean it’s all right to hunt it? That depends on several things.
If you’re superstitious, you may want to learn more about the legends and myths surrounding this animal first. If you’re not, it’s still best to check in with your state’s hunting laws to make sure you’re not hunting a protected species.
Did this article help? Would you hunt a piebald deer if given the chance? Let me know in the comments’ section below. I’d love to hear from you!