A quick look back at two trophy piebald bucks killed in Virginia
Virginia Outdoors - A Resource for Virginia Anglers and Hunters
Virginia Outdoors - Trophy Piebald VA Buck
by J. Burkholder
Posted January 27, 2009 - Updated November 18, 2009

There are basically three color variations that a whitetailed deer can
take (in addition to the normal brown tones).  Those three are:  
Piebald, Albino, and Melanistic.  Albino implies a total absence of
melanin, which leads to pink eyes, pink hooves, and completely white
fur.  Melanistic implies an excess of melanin and the deer appears
black.  Piebald is the most commonly-occurring of the three conditions
and it results in splotchy brown-and-white patterns.  

Most references assert that color abnormalities occur rarely, but then
place the rate of occurrence on the order of 1 - in - 100.  I have been
deer hunting for more than 20 years, using a trail camera for several
years, and living in whitetail country all of my life.  Between hunting and
driving country roads, I am sure that I have seen thousands of
individual deer.  Approximately 10 years ago on Big Meadows in the
Shenandoah National Park, my wife and I viewed a deer that from our
vantage point appeared completely white.  While hunting in the Fulks
Run area around 1996, I saw a deer right at dusk that also appeared to
be completely white.  Both sightings were at ranges of several hundred
yards.  In December 2008 on a midnight drive through Keezletown, VA,
a spike buck that was brown from the shoulders forward and white from
the shoulders rearward crossed the road only a few yards in front of us.
 So, anecdotally, I would put my rate of occurrence at perhaps 3 - in -
10,000.  Certainly no higher than that.  

Much debate has been given to the harvesting of piebald deer, in
particular.  Piebald is a genetic abnormality and the literature suggests
that it is often accompanied by other abnormalities, such as malformed
jaws and legs as well as crooked spines.  The issues range from the
desirability of having piebalds in the herd to the more pragmatic issues
of hunters who want to tan the hide or even full-body-mount a piebald.  

Although the potential for genetic abnormalities may be higher in
piebalds, my research did not uncover hard documentation of an
abundance of misshapen piebald deer.  Reader Matthew O'Brien
clearly crossed paths with a healthy one on January 2, 2009.  While
hunting in Accomack County on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, O'Brien
bagged the beautiful buck pictured at right.  Obviously, a tremendously
healthy trophy buck with some piebald characteristics.  O'Brien
recapped the hunt as follows:

"I snuck into the stand and settled in for the evening hunt.  After about
5 minutes of surveying the area the mind starts to wander and I
remembered that I needed to return a call to the wife.  She had called
the night before and everyone was asleep in the camper so I let the call
go to voicemail.

I didn't expect it to turn on for about another 45 minutes so I figured
now was a good time.  I did a low voiced whisper on the phone with the
wife for about 5 minutes and I guess during the end of the conversation
my voice must have gotten a little loud.  About 40 or 50 yards away on
a dry high spot among the marsh grass I see this rack rise up out of
the grass and turn to look over his shoulder directly at me.

With my heart thumping eyes locked with each other and my wife
yammering on in my ear, totally oblivious to the adrenaline packed
drama that just opened up, we were frozen for an eternity (well
probably 10 or 20 seconds but it sure seemed like an eternity).  Once
he put his head down to stand up I didn't even say goodbye.  I closed
the phone and did my best to get down to the business of dropping the
largest buck I had ever seen, with a gun in hand, in 20 years of hunting.

I hit him several times and I'm not particularly proud of the panicked
shot placement but he did drop.  I then called the wife, who had thought
I had just lost signal, and told her 'You know what is better than getting
the buck of a lifetime ... having your wife be a part of the hunt'."

Congratulations Matthew and thanks for sending us your picture and
story.  Anyone else having off-colored deer stories (please keep the
stories clean and the deer off-colored!), please send them to

NOVEMBER 2009 - Another Great Virginia Piebald Trophy Buck

Chris Blankenship harvested the trophy piebald buck of a lifetime in
Bedford County, VA during the 2009 general firearms season.  Chris
had captured the fantastic buck on trail cameras several times during
the months preceding his harvest of the buck.  The impressive 8-point
rack features a 22" outside spread and 20" inside spread.  Chris plans
a full body mount and who could blame him?

Chris related the story as follows:  

We did catch this buck on trail cams a few times over the last couple
months.  The trail camera is about 500 yards south of the box stand I
was sitting in and he came out of a field about 500 yards north of my
stand.  I noticed something in the field in the early dawn light but
couldn't make out what it was.  Then it moved into a patch of hard
woods that are about 200 yards from my stand just as the sun started
to creep up.  As soon as the light hit him I saw the white all along the
belly through my binoculars and knew it had to be him.  He worked
through the patch of woods as the sun barely made it up and was
heading to the patch of pines that I knew to be a popular bedding area.
 I had to take him on the move, through the trees at 228 yards.  He
dropped in his tracks and I found later that I had shot him right through
the heart.

Congratulations Chris!!
This trophy piebald whitetail buck
featured a 26 inch spread and
check out those brow tines!
Copyright © 2009 Virginia Outdoors, LLC
Ruckersville, VA
Piebald Buck Deer
Piebald Whitetail Buck
Chris Blakenship with his trophy VA piebald
buck killed in Nov 2009.  He captured the buck
on his trail camera the night before (see below)