An Open Letter to Hunters

Fall marks hunting season in Wisconsin, beginning with the September 15 bow deer season. It is not a restful time for local residents who know and cherish the area’s white deer. These deer have taken severe hits from both illegal hunting (the shooting of all white deer) and legal hunting (the shooting of nearly all white deer). If you are a hunter in this area and see a white deer, here are some things you should know…

First, it is illegal to shoot white and albino deer anywhere in Wisconsin. And just because they have a black nose or dark eyes does not mean you can shoot them.

Second, if you see a white deer, you are not the first person who has ever seen it. Many people have probably watched it grow from a young fawn to a full-sized doe or buck. Conversations around here commonly involve the latest in white deer sightings.

Third, that deer probably has a name. Most locals refer to various white deer by the farm where they tend to hang out, but some have specific names, like Whitey, who was illegally shot last year in Bear Valley. Deer, white or brown, often get names if they are unique, and they don’t come much more unique than white.

Fourth, the vast majority of hunters respect the white deer and want them protected. Watching white deer is a local recreation for both hunters and nonhunters. Residents used to pull up lawn chairs at Natural Bridge State Park to wait for a certain white buck to come out in the evening and graze in a field across the road. It was killed by a bowhunter in 2008.

Fifth, if you get close to a white deer, it is not due to your hunting prowess. Most of these deer have never been shot at and some are relatively tame–like Whitey again, who didn’t even spook when hunters approached him on a 4-wheeler and was still bedded down when the hunters returned to make their illegal kill. Or the 2012 Leland buck who trotted right past a hunters’ tent while chasing some does. The hunters couldn’t believe their good “fortune” of having a buck come so close. This buck was a local favorite in a field where he had been many times before.

Sixth, if you shoot a white deer, even one that has some brown on it and is legal, you will not be very popular. Shooting white deer has incurred the wrath of more than one community when a single hunter killed what was a popular neighborhood deer. Being legal doesn’t make it right.

Seventh, be assured, killing a white deer of any type will reflect very poorly on hunters in general. Many of us are hunters. It makes all hunters look selfish, ignorant, and insensitive to others. Hunting is more than the rules. It involves ethics, intelligent decision making, and respect for the deer and the community at large.

Finally, white deer are incredibly rare. These deer are so rare, being in their presence should be a privilege and not an opportunity to destroy something special and beautiful. Allowing the white deer to survive will be greatly appreciated by a very large community, and it will hopefully ensure that the white deer will be there for many people to enjoy for years to come.