The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is investigating the death of an albino buck found near a tree stand in the town of Gordon Sunday.
Michael Zeckmeister, northern district wildlife supervisor for the DNR, confirmed the deer had been shot, but could not determine if it had been shot with an arrow or bullet. It appeared the animal had been shot prior to the gun deer hunt, and could have been dead as long as a week.
The warden who was called to the site Sunday morning noted that the buck was bloated and the hair on its coat was slipping.
“That doesn’t happen in a day,” Zeckmeister said.
The buck sustained a gut shot, he said. It would have been hard to track because deer shot in that location can travel quite a distance before they die.
The deer was definitely in rut and had the characteristic pink eyes and muzzle of an albino animal. It’s illegal to shoot an albino deer in Wisconsin. The animals have been protected in the state since 1940. The fine for shooting one is $303.30.
“They’re quite rare,” Zeckmeister said. About one in 20,000 or 30,000 deer are born with the recessive albino gene, according to literature he’s read. The Boulder Junction area of Wisconsin, however, has a higher percentage of albino deer due to a higher population of the animals.
The odds are stacked against albino deer. Their white coats stick out without snow cover, making them more visible to prey.
Trail camera pictures of the Gordon area buck began showing up in 2011, making him at least six years old. The man who found the body told Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Andrea Dittbrender that he’s been hunting in the area for years, watching the approximately 170-pound albino buck.
“It’s very unfortunate this deer was shot,” Zeckmeister said. “I kind of feel sad about it.”
The DNR currently has no leads or suspects. Anyone with information on the shooting of the albino deer in the Gordon area is asked to call the DNR tipline, 1-800-847-9367.
On the hunt
Fewer deer were harvested statewide during the opening weekend of the gun deer hunt, according to preliminary deer harvest totals released by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Hunters bagged 102,903 deer over the weekend, compared to 116,615 in 2016.
In Douglas County, however, numbers were up. DNR preliminary numbers indicate hunters took 1,470 deer over the opening weekend in Douglas County, compared to 1,344 last year. In addition nearly twice as many antlerless deer were harvested over the weekend in the county, 263.
The entire northern forest zone had higher opening weekend totals this year than 2016, according to the preliminary numbers. Hunters bagged 21,941 deer in the northern zone over the weekend, compared to 19,686 in 2016.