For years I have heard about strange whitetail deer that have a blue tint to their coats. My father even reported seeing some of these deer on a hunting lease near Cherokee, TX in the mid 1970s. This of course was well before the era of cell phone cameras and game cameras so no photos were taken.
A few years back, reader sent in this photo of mysterious blue whitetails taken on his game camera in an undisclosed location in the Pinewoods of East Texas.
Some parts look blue, others purple but this is not a an Adobe Photoshop rendering.
Whitetails come in other color variations as well.
When I was in college me and my wife Lisa saw a piebald (partial albino) on the Greenwood Valley Ranch near Mountain Home, TX. Growing up, I heard the term “calico deer” for these and it was often used to describe a very large, freakish-antlered buck that had piebald coloration.
Reader Charlie Hennigan sent in these images of a black whitetail he encountered near Luling, TX. Most accounts of these deer come from social media and taxidermists. At first glance (on my iPhone) I thought it was a chocolate-phase fallow deer. Texas has many free-ranging exotics and fallow deer are one of the most prolific. But after close examination I have determined this is a black (melanistic) whitetail.
At first glance (on my iPhone) I thought it was a chocolate-phase fallow deer. Texas has many free-ranging exotics and fallow deer are one of the most prolific. But after close examination I have determined this is a black (melanistic) whitetail.
Whereas albinism is a lack of pigment, melanism is a hyper blast of black pigment. It is fairly common in some species such as fox squirrels and is evident in jaguars and leopards.
“Black panthers” for example are not a separate species, but simply melanistic jaguars and leopards.
Luling is located 49 miles south of Austin. Over the years I have documented a number of melanistic whitetails within about a 50-mile radius of Austin. Several have been northwest of Austin and around San Marcos.
Hennigan said the owner of the land where he was hunting reported seeing numerous does this color over the years, but very few bucks. This is probably because that part of the state has what wildlife managers would consider an out-of whack-buck to doe ratio. It can run as high as 10 does to one buck on certain tracts of land so it would not be surprising to see far more melanistic does than bucks.
Also, hunters are more likely to kill the bucks, and in recent years several melanistic bucks have been reported taken in Texas. It is not illegal to kill color-phase whitetails In Texas, and there is no official count of them among the 600,000 plus deer killed here every year.
Albino deer ad other white variants are now fairly common on high-fenced ranches and in deer breeding facilities. Some are pure albino with the pink eyes and some are white with standard-colored or even blue eyes. This is called leucistic.
This shot shows me back in 2014 at the Swenson Whitetail Ranch with their albino duck “Rusty”.
I have observed a herd of leucistic whitetails at the Seneca Army Depot with TF&G Hunting Editor Lou Marullo.
Have you ever seen an odd-colored whitetail?
If so, shoot me them over to me at [email protected].
I would love to share them with other deer lovers.
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