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Rare albino deer shot in Rock County

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Ted Sullivan
Sunday, November 16, 2008
— Erik Hanewold had heard about the albino deer, but it was just a myth.

“You don’t really believe it until you see one,” the 38-year-old Janesville resident said “It’s kind of like Bigfoot.”


But when he was alone in his deer stand east of Janesville on Saturday, Nov. 1, the white buck walked within 15 yards of him.


“I drew my bow,” Hanewold said. “I put it on is back rib and let the arrow go.”


Hanewold harvested the three-point buck, one of only three albino deer in Rock County.


It’s unusual to see an albino deer, even more unusual to get a chance to shoot one.


Only one in every 3,000 deer in Rock County is albino, said Brian Buenzow, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Natural Resources.


And it wasn’t legal for hunters to kill albinos until this year when their protected status was lifted in chronic wasting disease management zones, Buenzow said.


“It’s real rare,” he said. “This is the first time.”


Hanewold has been hunting his entire life, but he has never seen an albino deer. He began hearing reports of an albino earlier this year. It was seen where he hunts along Townline and Lima roads.


“I never would have dreamed that we would see him,” Hanewold said. “Nobody would have believed me anyway unless there was a body.”


But recovering the deer was nerve-wracking.


After firing his arrow, the deer stumbled away and lied down in the tall grass.


Hanewold didn’t want to scare the animal away, so he left it overnight.


“I was basically positive I saw him go down, but I didn’t’ want push him,” he said. “I was thinking, ‘Jeez, I hope a coyote doesn’t get him.’”


He called a couple hunting buddies, including Troy Avery, 39, of Janesville.


“I didn’t believe him at first. I thought he was pulling my leg,” Avery said.


Hanewold and his friends returned to find the deer the following day.


They saw the albino lying dead. It was much different than normal deer. It had soft, fine white hair like a rabbit. It also had a bushy tail like a horse.


“It’s body was glowing in the woods as white as it was,” Avery said. “I’m telling you, I’m at a loss for words.”


It was one of the best days the men have had in the woods. They had only previously seen albino deer displayed in museums or shows.


The deer will be mounted on the wall, Hanewold said. The meat was not edible.


Hanewold jokes with his hunting buddies, saying next time he shoots an albino deer it will have eight points.


But he knows he might never see one again.


“People say it’s like one in a million,” Hanewold said.


Last updated: 10:54 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012


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