Ahab Should Have Used a Camera


This has been a pretty good couple of months for a white deer.

A month or two ago I saw this lady (it is a doe right?) and her herd of between six and ten friends roaming Charlottesville’s backyards. Seeing her was the impetus for purchasing a new camera. I get the camera and the herd is gone, until yesterday!

I’m not printing where I see her, it makes me happy to catch a glimpse and I imagine I’m not the only one, hunting season is gone but you never know. That is a curious thing though, enjoying a rarity.

A 2oo to 300 member herd lives in Seneca County, New York. Seems that a little selection is taking place as the herd has been protected. The area the herd inhabits was originally a fenced-in army depot whose General took a shine to the white deer that began popping up. Sixty-odd years later you’ve got the world’s largest white deer herd.

Apparently, white deer are sacred to some Native American tribes…

Ghost of the White Deer

Chickasaw Lore

A brave, young warrior for the Chickasaw Nation fell in love with the daughter of a chief. The chief did not like the young man, who was called Blue Jay. So the chief invented a price for the bride that he was sure that Blue Jay could not pay.” Bring me the hide of the White Deer, : said the chief. The Chickasaws believed that animals that were all white were magical. “The price for my daughter is one white deer.” Then the chief laughed. The chief knew that an all white deer, an albino, was very rare and would be very hard to find. White deerskin was the best material to use in a wedding dress, and the best white deer skin came from the albino deer.Blue Jay went to his beloved, whose name was Bright Moon. “I will return with your bride price in one moon, and we will be married. This I promise you.” Taking his best bow and his sharpest arrows Blue Jay began to hunt.Three weeks went by, and Blue Jay was often hungry, lonely, and scratched by briars. Then, one night during a full moon, Blue Jay saw a white deer that seemed to drift through the moonlight. When the deer was very close to where Blue Jay hid, he shot his sharpest arrow. The arrow sank deep into the deers heart. But instead of sinking to his knees to die, the deer began to run. And instead of running away, the deer began to run toward Blue Jay, his red eyes glowing, his horns sharp and menacing.A month passed and Blue Jay did not return as he had promised Bright Moon. As the months dragged by, the tribe decided that he would never return.But Bright Moon never took any other young man as a husband, for she had a secret. When the moon was shinning as brightly as her name, Bright Moon would often see the white deer in the smoke of the campfire, running, with an arrow in his heart. She lived hoping the deer would finally fall, and Blue Jay would return.To this day the white deer is sacred to the Chickasaw People, and the white deerskin is still the favorite material for the wedding dress.

4 thoughts on “Ahab Should Have Used a Camera

  1. shannon says:

    I had always thought of white pigmentism in deer to be a genetic anomaly. Seeing the photos and your comment of it being a good season for this white deer gave me my first thought of possible selective advantage.

    When large predators were more common than cars, deer may have been more elusive than small prey in the brown/green seasons but more of a choice meal than those wee nesters and burrowers in the white season …?

  2. Devin S. Floyd says:

    A recessive gene maybe? one that passes along whiteness? That photo showing the deer in the thicket is phenomenal…showing an obvious advantage for hiding from predators. Why is it that we don't have a species of white deer in the far north?..hare, bear, fox, owl, and others have managed to take this route…or do we?

  3. Jesse says:

    Wow! I've never seen a full white deer. I've seen several partial leucistic deer before, but not solid white. I can't tell from the picture, but is this deer leucistic or albino? Albino will have pink nose, eyes, insides of the ear, and even feet. leucistic is only the lack of melanin in fur, but the other features maintain their normal colors. Very cool. I've also seen several leucistic birds, such as Juncos over the years. The Sparrow family really seems to retain this trait.

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