Davidson man logs rare deer sighting

Oct. 04, 2013 @ 05:56 PM

Jerry Hubbard has had the rare chance to see nature at its best.

“I didn’t think I was seeing what I thought saw. It was quite exciting to see,” Hubbard said. “We have had two or three people see it, and I have seen it at least four times.”
Hubbard and his wife Betty have fed and protected the deer that wonder on their property in the northern part of Davidson County for the past 20 years. They put out deer corn, deer apples and salt lick for them.
But they weren’t ready for what they saw on a recent hot summer day. An all-white, albino deer.
“The deer wonder around where we are. I have known about albino deer, but having never seen one, I didn’t think too much about it,” Hubbard said. “Then I went online and looked up albino deer
In July, the couple spotted a white fawn. In September, Hubbard was able to get his camera so that he would have proof. He said he was working in the woods and happened to see it again.
“I went back to the garage and got my camera. It was with the other deer, I used my telephoto lens on the camera and took the shot,” Hubbard said. “They are very rare.”
Since the siting, Hubbard said he keeps his eye open for his albino neighbor.
“All the time. They are around in the morning or the afternoon, although the last couple of times I’ve seen it, it was by itself. The other times, it is around the other deer.”
The fawn has definitely given Hubbard a topic of conversation.
“I was talking to one lady down at Hills Farm Supply in Thomasville,” Hubbard said. “She said in all of the years she worked there, she had never had anyone come in that has seen one.”
Albino and leucistic deer are typically identified by their pink nose and eyes. Wildlife biologists say the odds of an albino deer are one in 100,000 or more. Each parent must carry the recessive gene and pass it along to the fawn.
Stacilyn Bellemare, wildlife rehabilitator at Nature’s Haven Wildlife Rescue, said most of the time when people see a “white” deer, they are actually looking at one that is leucistic.
“If they have blue eyes, they are leucistic. They have a buff color to them with crystal blue eyes,” Bellemare said. “I have had two of them. A true albino has red eyes and are white from the beginning.”
They are not common to the Triad, but Bellemare said that is changing. She said that albino deer make up about 5 to 10 percent of the 1.25 million deer in the state.
“They are just popping up in our environment for some reason,” she said. “They are rare, but I wouldn’t say extremely rare. I have had two babies this year alone, one coming from the Belews Creek area and another out near Burlington.”
Bellemare said there are not many differences between normal deer.
“They are more skittish and standoffish, but they do bond with other deer that do not look like them,” Bellemare said. “The only problem I had was sunburn a few times this year, but I didn’t treat them any different.”
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Fun Facts
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• In the wild, albinism is a curse. If an animal doesn’t blend into its surroundings, it soon becomes a meal.
• Not all white deer are albino. An animal is considered leucistic when the hair lacks coloring pigment, but the eyes, noses and hooves are normal coloration. Deer with white coats and brown eyes may have some brown hairs, giving the coat a tan “wash.”
• Fawns of white deer are born tan or cream colored with white spots. Some may appear tan or gray. They become all white by the end of their second year.
• Albinism is a recessive trait that occurs in many organisms, including mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and plants. Both parents must carry the gene.
• True albinism is the total lack of the body pigment melanin. Eyes appear pink because the iris lacks pigment and blood vessels show through the lens. Later in life, some melanin may “leak,” leading to some color of the fur.
• White deer are considered good luck among Native Americans