The White Deer Experience

There are those that argue that white deer are no different than any other deer, but the people below might disagree. 

DSC00141From Jeff Richter, photographer and co-author of  White Deer: Ghosts of the Forest
Jeff has been observing and photographing a herd of white deer in Boulder Junction, Wisconsin for 15 years.

“People are really, really interested in the deer (and) keep close tabs on them. These white deer really get a hook into people.”

“An animal so unique and mysterious that it holds a spell over anyone lucky enough to behold its gaze.”

“I’ve spent my life traversing field and forest with countless unique wildlife observations, but few have compared with the startled realization of that first white deer.”

“Are these white deer nothing more than genetic freaks of nature that deserve nothing more than to be dismissed as oddballs; or like the white buffalo, an animal that causes us to think about the natural world and our place in it in a different context.  I know my life has been enriched in ways only nature can, touched to the core, by the white deer, ghost deer, spirit deer.”

From WXYZ News–Detroit, Michigan (July 8, 2015)

MILFORD, Mich. (WXYZ) – It isn’t unusual to see wildlife at Kensington Metro Park, but what photographer Lou Waldock saw one day is unusual to see anywhere.

“You are driving through the park and all of the sudden you can’t believe your eyes,” Lou said of his experience.

What he saw was a white, white-tailed buck. It was an encounter that would change his habits.

“After I ran into him a few times I learned his habits. I would go out before dark, about an hour and a half, and I would wait. He would just materialize out of nowhere. To see him, the feeling is indescribable. He’s like a magical being. You felt privileged to be in his presence,” said Waldock.

From Jim Ridley, visitor to Kensington Metropark near Detroit, Michigan, who remembers his first experience seeing a white deer and his sadness at its death.

Ridley said he regularly visits the metropark to photograph wildlife and he first saw the deer two years ago on his way into the park.

“It was just standing on the side of the road,” he said. “I pulled my car off to the side of the road, jumped out, and the deer kinda went into the woods more. I ended up running without my coat through the woods and got a few pictures.”

Ridley said the albino deer grew from a three-point to a small eight-point buck by this past winter.

“It’s such a shame, it was such a beautiful animal,” he said. “This was a gorgeous deer.”

From Gregory Miller from Howell, Michigan, in a June 26, 2015 letter to Kensington Metropark leaders after a white deer is shot during a park cull

Last November, while alone in the fading light of an early winter evening on the nature trails, I had an encounter with the deer that I shall never forget. I spotted it some distance away, and wasn’t at first sure of what I was seeing. I was able to track and approach the animal, and then realized what it really was. I literally dropped the coffee I was carrying. As a photographer with thirty years of experience, I was fortunate to have all my gear with me, and I stood just yards away from an animal of such grace and beauty that words fail to describe. I stood in full view of the deer, and as if on cue, it stopped between two trees and turned to look at me. The animal could not have posed more perfectly. I fired the shutter and recorded a photograph that ranks as rare at the very least, perhaps a once in a lifetime event. For me, it was a highly charged emotional moment that, again, words do not fully convey. I was so inspired by this event that I printed, matted, and framed, at considerable personal expense, a large format copy of my image and donated it to the Nature center at Kensington. My intention was for it to serve as an educational and inspirational tool for park visitors, and especially children. What a wonderful ambassador you had in this animal of such exquisite and exotic beauty, and I am heartbroken to learn that it will never be seen again, and an experience such as I had will never be repeated by anyone else.

From the Boulder Junction Chamber of Commerce website
“The albino deer herd of Boulder Junction is one of Wisconsin’s great natural treasures.”

“Seeing one of Boulder Junction’s albino deer is an unforgettable experience.”
“Would you like to visit the realm of the albino deer?”  (Note:  Boulder Junction sees its white deer as a valuable community resource and tourist attraction.)
From a JSOnline (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) story:  It’s like a white flash

“Journal Sentinel photographer Jeffrey Phelps recently traveled to Vilas County to find and photograph the (white) deer.  Over five days he had 10 sightings.  Some of the photos he snapped were blurred – he was shaking with emotion. Other photos, though, capture the poetry, beauty and majesty of the animals.”

“They are as white as a covering of fresh snow, white like mystical and magical ghosts.”

“You see one in the dark forest and then it vanishes,” Phelps says. “It’s like a white flash.”

“Many years ago, (a) hunter took his son into the woods and saw a glorious white deer, a 10-point buck. The hunter told the child, ‘Take a close look at that.  You may never see another one like that the rest of your life.’ “

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:  All-white buck photographed near Port Washington 

In the dim light of late afternoon, “it almost looked like an angel or something,” she recalled.

“I can’t imagine why anyone would want to shoot it.”

From the Appleton/Fox Cities Post-Crescent:  Ghost deer: An encounter with rare albino deer

“As two extremely rare, albino deer stepped into a clearing in the snow-covered woodlands at sunset, my heart skipped a beat.”

“The deep darkness settling among the forest trees prevented any truly stunning photographs, but simply being able to view these ghostly animals moving through the snow-covered forest was a once-in-a-lifetime dream.”

“Seeing one of these animals in the wild is much different than seeing a picture in a magazine or on a website.  The beauty of these angelic woodland dwellers is breathtaking.”

From a Peoria (Illinois) Journal Star story:  All white white-tails notable

“My wife (Lisa) just loves them to death because they are so neat to see,” said Tim Guinan, a Springfield-area bowhunter who frequently sees albinos at Sangchris. “And I’ve taken friends out (to the inner peninsula at Sangchris) to see them, and they are just mesmerized by them.”

From Chapel Hill, North Carolina–a spiritual experience

Photo:  Kay Goldstein.  Used with permission.

“It is impossible for me not to experience magic, mystery and an immense sense of wonder when I look at this photograph.  The white deer’s visits, while frequent, never seemed commonplace–perhaps because he was not ordinary. His appearance, first with his brown spotted twin and mother doe, then on his own, always caused a ripple of excitement to run through the house, a dash for a camera, and reverent hushed voices. He may as well have been a unicorn. Perhaps he really was.

If I had known nothing of these stories (about the specialness of white deer in different cultures), its appearance in my life would still have been deeply moving. For the white deer evoked in me the world of imagination, spirit, and a reminder of that which is not easily seen in our everyday world.”

From Virginia’s Goochland Gazette:  White deer population deserving of protection

“Some time ago, when I was driving to Charlottesville early one morning, a large white doe was standing in the center of the road.  The highway was quiet, no cars in sight.  I stopped the car and sat mesmerized by the sight before me.  Calm and deliberate, the doe returned my gaze, then walked to the side of the road and at the edge of the woods turned and looked at me before disappearing into the dense foliage. 

That moment electrified me with its astounding beauty.”
From “Whiter Shade of Tail,” an albino news blog

“He (an albino Wisconsin buck) is now a monstrous 10-point with candelabra antlers that appear anything but genetically inferior.  People drive for miles to check him out, lining up along his favorite fields with spotting scopes sprouting from their truck windows.” 

From the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch
Hunters are also awed by the white deer.  This is one hunter’s experience.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing…  A hunter sees one, and it’s like hitting the lottery.”

“What kept drawing his utmost attention…was the wondrously pallid buck.”

“The very first thing I noticed was his stunning pink eyes…  Then I looked at his pure-white body.  His coat was perfect, and not a mark on it.”

“…the whiteness of the deer registered the way a floating apparition might.  …the pink-eyed specter was close.”

“He stopped and turned, positioning his body…for a perfect shot…”

“(The hunter) wondered…for a while after whether he should have taken the white deer.  He acknowledges that some people might wish he hadn’t.

“The pats on the back from hunters who’ve heard  the whitetail story have assuaged some of the guilt, but public kicks in the derriere from animal lovers have had a different effect.  Ambivalence about killing the once-in-a-lifetime deer perhaps is being demonstrated by (the hunter’s) plan to ‘share’ the deer with others.”

“(The taxidermist) began crafting a full body mount.  The plan is to display the animal during the Deer & Turkey Expo in March.”

“It should be a real draw…Hunters will want to see an albino deer.”

“After that, it would be nice if the mount could be displayed in a local store for kids and others to see…”

 From reader post:  The mysterious albino deer herd

from Charlie Elk

“Once upon a time I was an opportunist hunter if I came across fowl or beast during an open season I did my best to kill it. Then somewhere along the way it came to me I do not have to kill everything. Perhaps it was during my first white deer encounter but I can’t be sure. While watching the particular small white doe her pink eye shining back at me a feeling of peace and contentment descended around me. With the thought; if I kill this deer I deny another the same experience.
Like many hunters I have numerous mounts which I have always viewed as my feeble attempt at possession of their beauty & wildness, as all hunters come to realize eventually. The mount will trigger pleasant memories of the hunt.(making it well worth effort to get a mount)
But there is a certain sadness in the back reaches of your mind – your possession is never really complete.