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East Tennessee Outdoors… Tall Tales from Hunting Camp

BY DANNY BLEVINS

STAR CORRESPONDENT

It’s time once again to explore some of the tales that many hunters tell in the hunting camp.

Some of these are true, some are filled with fabrications, and still, others are for pure entertainment purposes only. Regardless, all of these have one thing in common. They will make your hunting camp a memorable place.

The Black Whitetail Deer

We all have heard about hunters who have seen albino whitetail deer. These deer are usually white and have eyes that have a pink tint to them.

Killing one of these wonders of nature is rare. Most states, including Tennessee, have laws that prohibit the killing of a pure albino whitetail.

Other people have seen albino opossums, albino turkeys, and even albino raccoons.

But how many of us have ever seen a black whitetail deer?

The technical term is “Melanism”. This is a mutation where the deer is born almost completely black.

It is believed that this mutation makes it less likely for the deer to be killed by predators, while any deer born with the albino mutation are more likely to be killed by predators because white is not a normal color in nature.

To date, there have only been six states where black whitetail deer have even been spotted. Those six states are Mississippi, Michigan, Virginia, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas.

Most of these sightings have been in Texas.

It is believed that the odds of seeing one of these whitetails is 1 in 6 million. Also, only a handful of these animals have ever been killed.

There are people who have seen one of these animals but have refused to legally take it during hunting season because they hope the deer will reproduce and their area will have a population of these whitetails.

The only problem with that idea is that these deer have an aggressive gene, so even if they reproduce, they will have fawns that are only dark brown. They will not produce more black deer.

For me seeing one of these would be one of the thrills of my life.

I expect that someone in Tennessee will one day spot one, but I personally hope they do not kill it. Leaving it alive would make the woods a little better place.

Lost Deer

There are many stories of whitetail deer that got away. Usually, these involve a hunter only getting a glimpse of massive antlers as the deer runs away in the opposite direction.

But my favorite whitetail deer stories are the ones that are hard to believe. This is one of those.

Several years ago, a gentleman was hunting in one of the mid-western states when he spotted a giant whitetail that would make a beautiful trophy for his wall.

The hunter shot this giant and walked up to it. The closer he got to the deer, the bigger the deer looked.

Excited by his kill, the man wanted a photo, and he decided to make the photo look better by turning the head of the deer facing him and placing his $1000 Browning rifle in the cradle of the deer’s antlers.

Once he snapped his photo, the deer snorted jumped to his feet, and ran as fast as he could to parts unknown still carrying the hunter’s rifle.

The hunter never recovered his deer nor his rifle.

He was left with a photo of the deer and the rifle and a story that no one wanted to believe.

The longer I live the more I realize how interesting the outdoors can be. Get out and see what you can see.

Who knows, you may see a bigfoot as one hiker did near Watauga Lake, but that is a story for next week.

Have a safe week and God bless.