Legendary Albino Buck Harvested by Bowhunter
The top story in the outdoors this past week has been well-documented and dramatically over-reported on, so staying true to journalistic form, I’d be remiss if I didn’t beat it into the ground a bit more!
Here’s the headline: “The majestic White Stag from Narnia was bludgeoned to death by a heartless murderer in the name of fame, fortune, and evil, and now the good townsfolk are arming themselves with pitchforks and torches and aiming to lynch the accused.” That might had well been the headline anyway, but at the end of the day, the only thing that happened was a deer hunter killed a deer, and a pretty nice one at that.
Jerry Kinnaman from Cape Girardeau, MO took the big, mature, white buck that has caused a lot of uproar and nonsensical dramatics among our community. It was a great kill for a lifelong hunter, and one he should be proud of and able to enjoy, rather than have to get bashed by people who know little and have done less to help this deer, let alone the rest of his species.
First and foremost, Jerry passed on this deer before, because his neighbor had asked him to, and it wasn’t until his neighbor’s property was becoming overrun with people attempting to see and photograph the deer that he told Jerry to please harvest the buck. As Jerry told him, it’s not that easy, and it was 3 years later before he had the chance to shoot the buck, who at 7 ½ years old had a very small chance at making it through the winter.
Secondly, albinism is not a gift from God, and as far as nature is concerned it would much more closely resemble a curse. Deer are brown for a reason, and white deer very rarely make it in the wild. Many states, like Missouri, encourage the shooting and harvesting of white deer so that their traits are not passed down causing an unhealthy balance in the herd. That’s THE HERD, encompassing all the deer in the state, not just the pretty ones.
White fawns are very rare, but white 2-year-olds are much rarer, as predators pick them off easily due to their lack of camouflage. This buck living as long as he has has produced many fawns that didn’t make it to their 6th month, but hey, that’s just nature being nature, not blood thirsty humans shooting them for sport, right? Not quite.
The problem with that line of thinking, or lack thereof, is that if weren’t for hunters, there would be no white deer, brown deer, or any other deer. In 1925 our state’s deer herd was estimated to be around 400 due to the European settlers wiping out anything and everything they could eat, wear, or turn into a dollar. In 1937 the first Conservation Commission was formed by concerned hunters, and deer season was closed for five years, while they stocked deer from northern states. The state began training conservation agents, and by 1944 the state’s herd was estimated at 15,000 and Missouri held a 2-day, bucks-only season that 7,557 hunters bought licenses for and took 583 deer.
Today the deer herd in the state of Missouri is estimated at over 1.5 million, and our conservation agency is touted as one of the top in the nation. In 2013 alone, 4,487 hunters donated 227,358 pounds of venison to the Share the Harvest program to feed the needy, and the opportunities for youth to enjoy the outdoors through our conservation departments numerous programs are the envy of other states, and continue to grow. Hunters and fishermen alone supported the MDC up until the late 1970’s, when Missouri passed the Design for Conservation Tax, allotting 1/8 of 1 percent of the state’s sales tax to go to the conservation department. This money, along with the licenses and tags bought by hunters and fishermen, along with the deep appreciation of land management and the conservation of fish and game by outdoorsmen and women, is the reason that majestic white buck was there in the first place.
Hunters and fishermen, WE are the ones who put in the work, who pay the bills, who manage the land, and who undoubtedly have a much deeper connection and appreciation of deer, ALL DEER, not just the pretty ones, than anyone else.
So in closing, if you truly loved that white buck, rather than curse and demean Jerry Kinnaman, go shake his hand, and thank him for doing his part for conservation, and hope that we outdoorsmen and women remain the vast majority, so that the rest of you will have plenty of beautiful animals and picturesque landscapes to enjoy for years to come.