As a deer hunter, a whitetail deer hunter is a welcome sight, but not necessarily a rarity. But, catching a glimpse of the incredibly rare piebald deer is a scarce and beautiful sight. Every now and again, hunting enthusiasts get to witness rare images of a piebald deer on social media, discovered by a “lucky” select few hunters. This unique deer features impossible-to-miss white markings, standing out like a unicorn in a forest full of horses. In fact, many hunters focus exclusively on these hard-to-find critters – determined to add a new trophy to their collection.
But – just how rare are piebald deer?
What is a Piebald Deer?
Contrary to what many hunters believe, piebaldism is not a combination of a regular whitetail deer and its albino counterpart. Piebaldism is a genetic abnormality responsible for the piebald deer’s appearance. It’s a rare condition that affects less than 2% of the whitetail deer population.
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According to geneticists and researchers, the name “piebald” originates from the word “pie” – short for magpie, a bird in the crow family. The magpie has black and white plumage. The piebald deer has a genetic abnormality, causing patches of white across its body. This patchy look gives it a mixed up appearance, in which the patches, or lack of pigmentation almost make it “bald.” Pie + Bald = Piebald!
Piebald deer come in a range of colorations and variations. There is no stock-standard. Some piebald deer look as though they’ve been splashed with white paint. Others may look almost “airbrushed” or spotted. It is believed that this recessive trait must be carried by both deer-parents, maternal and paternal, in order for the offspring to be piebald. That’s what makes the condition of piebaldism so exceptionally rare.
Piebaldism presents itself in many different forms, varying from moderate to severe depending on the circumstances. While some piebald deer can live normal, long, happy and healthy lives, most aren’t so lucky.
Interestingly, piebaldism isn’t just isolated to deer. Throughout nature, we see many other species experiencing this genetic abnormality, including horses, certain dog breeds, python snakes, moose, bald eagles, and on some cases, even humans.
Piebaldism | More Than Just A Coloring Abnormality
Apart from the strikingly unique coat, a piebald deer usually has other distinguishing features, include shorter-than-normal legs, an arched spine (scoliosis), and a prominent oral overbite. Beyond the surface, a piebald deer normally experiences certain organ deformities, and even arthritis.
According to geneticists, this boils down to something called “pleiotropy,” which causes one single gene to control numerous traits. The affected traits range from pigmentation to bone development and more. It’s not unusual to see a piebald deer with debilitating genetic mutations and severe birth defects. Combined, these factors make it exceptionally challenging for piebald deer to survive in the wild – let alone make it to adulthood.
In one recent case study, Missy Runyan, a New York-based wildlife rehabilitator, was called to the scene of a distressed fawn in May of 2017. The white-as-snow piebald fawn was plagued by severe birth defects, including life-threatening internal genetic mutations. The fawn didn’t live for much longer, but Runyan managed to X-Ray the fawn’s body and detect numerous internal abnormalities. The results showed internal defects that made it impossible for the fawn to survive in the wild.
Piebaldism Vs. Albinism
The genetic causes for piebaldism and albinism differ, something you can easily spot by gazing into the affected deer’s eyes. While an albino deer’s eyes are pink, accompanies by a pink nose and hooves with pink hues, piebald deer have brown eyes, a brown nose, and black hooves.
Piebald deer should also not be confused with melanistic deer, which typically lack brown or white color variations and usually appear to be black across their entire bodies.
While geneticists and scientists are still hard at work to fully understand the genetic mutation that causes piebaldism, one thing is for sure: If you see one, you should count yourself lucky. Few hunters will ever get the chance to get a glance of this rare creature out in the wild.
Piebald Deer | To Shoot…Or Not To Shoot?
More and more hunters are emerging on social media, slammed for their short-lived success at when taking rare trophy piebald deer. In various parts of North America, these rare white animals are seen as “sacred,” and not to be harmed. Certain indigenous communities see piebald deer as “returning ancestors,” serving as a “reminder that something of significance is about to happen.”
There are also various “myths” and “legends,” stating that by capturing and killing a piebald deer, you will “experience bad future hunts,” or, “guarantee your own death in a year’s time.”
Laws Regarding Piebald Deer | Check Your State Hunting Regulations
If you aren’t superstitious, do your homework by researching the rules and regulations of your state. For example, it is illegal to shoot any white deer in Wisconsin, as herds of white deer are rising in numbers, making locals rather protective of the rare animals.
While certain jurisdictions have laws in place to protect piebald deer, among other white animals, many locations allow (licensed) hunters to lawfully harvest these rare creatures without consequence.
According to Brian Murphy, wildlife biologist and the Executive Director of the Quality Deer Management Association, there is no biological reason to protect piebald deer or albinos. Protecting them should not be regulated by the state, but rather, should be the decision of the landowners and hunters.
While piebaldism is indeed rare, population problems are apparently not a concern. Emerging research shows that the act of hunting a piebald deer will have no significant impact on the deer population, let alone damage it. If you would wish to take such a rare trophy (and meat) back to your home, and if it is legal to hunt them where you live, there’s no reason not to hunt piebald deer.
Have you ever seen a piebald deer out in the wild? Leave a comment on this post or share your photos with us here at N1!
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Who doesn’t want to see bigger bucks during deer season? Do you wish you could see greater antler growth in your deer herd, but just aren’t sure what to do to make it happen? We want to help you learn how to make your own deer mineral recipe, so that you can not only make a product that will help you have a healthier deer herd, but be able to do it without breaking the bank (SCROLL DOWN TO WATCH VIDEO).
Minerals: A Recipe For Deer Success
Of course, larger antler size gets most hunters giddy. But bucks aren’t the only ones that need mineral supplements. Does need it just as much. When the does are pregnant, start to produce milk and lactate for the fawns that will be born, they need extra calcium. This will help with lactation, but it also is essential for a healthy bone structure of the fawn that is growing in the womb.
Bucks also need the extra calcium boost, as they will use around 40 percent of the calcium in their own bone structure to grow antlers. This happens every year and calcium plays a huge part in the process. This means that a buck needs not only a good food supply during the antler growing process, but it also needs calcium during the growth process in the mother’s womb. A healthy bone structure will contribute to greater antler growth later in the deer’s life.
Diligence Is Key
Supplementing your deer herd with the proper nutrition and minerals needed to promote good antler growth is not something you can do just once. So, if you’re hoping to just visit your local outdoors store, buy a mineral block, put it out and hope to see and kill big deer, you may want to temper those expectations. If you want a deer herd that consistently produces bucks with good antler size, you have to be consistent yourself as well. Start making your own deer mineral supplements today and do so every year, so that you can reap the benefits for years to come.
You’ll find in the video below, that all the ingredients you will need to begin making your own deer mineral sites can be found at your local farm or feed store. We hope you enjoy learning how to create your own minerals for your deer herd! (Note: Be sure to check and follow your state’s laws on use of attractants and supplements on private as well as public hunting land.
N1 Minute: Make Your Own Mineral Licks
In this edition of the N1 Outdoors N1 Minute, learn how to make your own mineral licks for deer. We show you a simple deer mineral recipe that you can make. We also give you some tips on where to place it. If you want to improve the overall health of your deer herd, then this is one of our must-see hunting videos. We give you the deer mineral recipe for whitetail success!
Hey, Josh Wells here with the N1 Outdoors N1 tip. We’re gonna make mineral licks today and what we’ve got here that we’re using for the minerals is trace minerals… we are putting two parts trace minerals, one part mixing salt, one part dried molasses and one part dicalcium phosphate.
Why the mineral nutrition is important for deer
What this is going to do for our herd is give the does that are now impregnated, more or less a prenatal vitamin. It’s going to give them what will be equivalent to our multi-vitamins. As the bucks are shedding their horns, they’re automatically starting to grow them back right now. It’s going to help increase their potential of growing big horns.
Where to put the mineral lick
There is a major trail on this side and a major trail on that side of this mineral lick. Now, you don’t want to necessarily put it in the middle of a trail. Put it close to nearby trails and they will find it. They’re not going to eat this like they would a feed or a protein feed or corn. They will come and use this as their body craves the mineral.
As you can see, just last night, there are some tracks in this mineral. So, they have already found it. That is because of the dried molasses. The dried molasses has a strong, sweet, cane smell, and that is why they’ve already found this. We will check back on this in about two months and see how it’s going, and my supplement this mineral with some more material.
Thanks again for joining us for this edition of the N1 Outdoors N1 Minute. Be sure to visit N1outdoors.com, where you can read all about unforgettable moments outdoors. Also, connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
We hope you have a great week, and remember, “where the moment happen, we’ll meet you there.” We’ll see you next time.
N1 Outdoors – How To Make Your Own Deer Mineral Recipe: