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White Deer

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Nov 17, 2016
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N.C. and elsewhere
It's funny how an off-the-cuff comment can sometimes open doors and produce opportunities. We were invited to a wedding in the end of March. Someone said to another, "put that on your calendar so you won't be trying to turkey hunt". A lady came over. She asked, "you hunt turkeys"? "Uh, yeah", we replied. She went on to say she owns a ranch that has been abandoned for the past 4-years. It used to be a cattle operation and was maintained and had a Foreman there every day. She said there "used to be" a lot of turkeys. She went on ... "I've leased the place, long term, to a solar farm company. They are going to clear the property down to the dirt, even knock down the house and barn". My only response was, "When"? She said in about 10-months, but we are welcome to go look for turkey. But she continued. "There's big ranches on 3-sides and the Highway runs across the front. A lot of interesting animals come from those ranches now, looking for a safe, thick area to hide out". "Like what", someone else asked. Axis deer, Aoudad, Elk, Blackbuck. Well, I made plans to look for turkeys.

I set out my cameras and I had a little corn-feeder in the truck. My plan was to find a potential roost spot, set up a camera and feeder nearby and go home to monitor if any turkeys were using the area. The lady said there was an old rifle-range in the front, so I grabbed a rifle in case I felt like shooting. I was going to Texas anyway to check on our other house. Upon arrival I went to the spot that aerial view maps showed to be likely. There was one turkey track in the recently dampened soil. I set up the camera and feeder. I thought I'd call for a while so I dug through my bag for a call. Nada. I forgot my turkey calls.

I loaded my rifle and decided to go for a long walk. BTW, you can shoot turkeys with a rifle although that's not what I had in mind. A 4:30PM I set out along a game trail. I had my HECS suit that I really believe in for turkey hunting, but I put it under my more traditional attire for the walk. The HECS technology works either way, but I was not camo this way. One thing I noticed was that where there was low spots with dark dirt my footsteps fell silent and sunk in slightly. On gray, drier ground my feet fell hard and picked up a little puff of dust.

Around a mile later an animal stood up to my left. It was obscured by heavy brush but appeared to be a spike elk. Instead of my mind saying, "get the gun up" my thoughts were "wow they didn't drop antlers yet". Further along I spotted another larger animal that moved swiftly away from me. I am sure it was an elk too, but I did not see if it had antlers or not. I was amazed at how silently he crossed through a patch of blue-bonnets when it seemed like every one of my footsteps was thunder. I was angling across the compass to make a sort-of circle when I saw an animal on the ground. Sneaking further I felt sweat running and thought I got a whiff of my body odor. At around 50-yards, 7 cow elk stood up and walked to a spot under the trees around 75-yards from me. I could hear the wind and feel the breeze on my face so I knew I couldn't get closer. I watched for a while and they moved off. I thought, "this is awful far from the truck to deal with an elk with only an hour or so of light left". I curved back on my circle.

With a blank mind taking in the red birds fluttering and the clouds moving rapidly overhead I was jostled to a conscious state when a flash of white caught me attention and snapped me out of my trance. White? I eased closer and closer. Too small for a cow. A snow goose? A crane? No. What could be white and moving through the woods? One step at a time, using my leg muscles to ease down every step in silence I moved closer. Somewhere around the 75-yard mark the animal moved from behind a little incline and I could see it was a deer. Back behind the incline only its head was visible. I moved closer. After what seemed like hours, but really was about 15-minutes, I settled down by a bush expecting the animal to cross from my left to right. A few minutes later it came over the rise and stood facing me. Well that's not what I expected. I just shot this rifle a few days ago. I learned that it likes thinner patches than what I wanted it to. With 80 grains of 3F Swiss, a .015 patch with mink oil and a .570 ball the rifle was shooting golf-ball sized groups at 50-yards and baseball sized groups at 100 yards. Someone, over 150-years ago thought it was a good idea to add a second folding leaf rear sight that is marked 300. I choose to ignore that bit of optimism.

My best guess is that I am about a 10-minute walk from where I parked. I settle the sights on the chest where the neck meets and I squeeze the trigger. The white spot disappears and then re-appears on the ground under the puff of smoke, right under where it was standing. The ball flew true.

This ended up being a white fallow deer doe, around 220-pounds.


The rifle is an 1843 Purdey. It started life as a fowler and was returned to the factory for conversion to a rifle in 1865. The octagon to round, double wedding ring damascus barrel was lined with rifling, and sights were installed. This is the first game I have taken with this rifle.
Very interesting. In the 60+ yr. I spent stumbling around the north central Pa. mtns. , have run across a half dozen piebald deer , (brown and white and not full albino) , but never when the particular deer was in season. On my first buck season hunt , 12 yrs. old , we went to a , just opened to firearms , 12 mi. across flat Mtn. top called the Quehanna Wild area. It had been closed to hunting since the 1930's , as a secret govt. jet engine airplane development installation. Hunters had to show up at four AM , and register to hunt in one of several areas , we picked area #6. I got back in the woods on a small rise where I could see well , as light came on , crawled into a huge hollow stump in the open woods with deer tracks near it. Shortly , deer started to come towards me , maybe twenty or so. First deer in the herd was a spike buck , but I thought it not legal to shoot from listening to the old guys talk back at camp night before. I was disappointed , but looking down across the herd coming , I saw 150 yds. back the last animal was white. I had never heard of a white deer , at 12 yrs. of age , so figured it was a white dog chasing the herd of deer. The idea popped into my young mind , I could save the herd of deer , if I dusted the white dog. The white animal got to me , and I was shocked. It was a white doe. Well , at least I would have a good story to tell all the old hunters at camp that night. Telling about the hunt is all part of the experience.
If you want folks to look at your deer then you need to move that fine lookin’ rifle out of the pics! Congrats on the fallow doe.
What did you think of it on the table, Sparkitoff?
Had three steaks that would be "porterhouse" or something like that if they were from a bovine. Garlic salt, onion salt, black pepper, 48 hours in refrigerator. Used a stovetop griddle conversion (cast iron) with a heavy steak iron. My version of "Flat Iron Steak". Cooked on each side until the black/brown griddle lines were nicely etched. This proved to be a solid "medium". Family ate it all, commenting on the flavor, moisture and texture.

This is contrary to what I've always heard about Fallow Deer. That the meat is inferior to whitetail and other venison. Preparation, dry marinade or seasoning and proper cooking is essential.
A detail I left out was the recovered ball. My average MV is 1565 FPS. The .570 ball caught the sternum and broke the neck (completely severed). It traveled though muscle just next to and underneath the spine and came to rest at about 12-inches of total penetration, kind of between the inside shoulder and spine. It looks like a turtle shell - completely flat on one side and domed on the other. Frankly, I've seen a lot more impressive penetration with my .54 caliber rifles on bigger critters. However, the ball did get a double-dose of bone and it did the job nonetheless.
Great post, @Sparkitoff , and congratulations on your kill. @Britsmoothy , thank you for the information regarding fallow deer. I did not know that about their coloration.

@Sparkitoff Fun read and interesting kill.

We had occasional sightings of white deer in the UP when I was growing up. It was specifically unlawful to shoot them. I never saw the point of the law though.
I don’t see the point of that law either, @longcruise . We had a discussion of piebald whitetails in another thread some months ago. That prompted me to research it a little, as I have seen piebald whitetails several times in one specific area nearby, although it was on state park land, with no hunting allowed. Anyway, the piebald trait is very frequently linked to skeletal deformities affecting the spine and the long bones. I have some back problems related to my spine, and all I can say is the affected animals must suffer chronic pain. In my nonprofessional opinion, I think it might be in the best interest of the herd to cull the piebald animals.
My take away from your post is that we lose more farm land to another damn solar field. Those things are everywhere in my area. Wonder how much farm land we can lose before it .negatively impacts wildlife and our food supply.
Amen to that. We are losing way too much farmland, and it is happening quickly. There is a very large solar farm right next to I-75 in north Florida. It is appalling.

Moving on, I would like to say that I really like Sparkitoff’s rifle. It is a beauty, with an interesting history. A real game-getter, too!

Notchy Bob
@Sparkitoff Fun read and interesting kill.

We had occasional sightings of white deer in the UP when I was growing up. It was specifically unlawful to shoot them. I never saw the point of the law though.
Still here -- there are 2 of them seen regular but not together. One is north of town and the other to the southwest. The north one frequents people in town with apple trees
Public pressure/interest wants hunting them banned but it's been legal to shoot albino and piebald deer in Michigan since 2008...
I have never seen a melanistic whitetail deer though. Have not heard of one either but supposedly exist