Thanks to Midwest Whitetails @thwackem for posting this beautiful picture: Donny Kay with his rare melanistic buck. Killed near Boone, IA.
This is just the second black-phase buck shot by a hunter that I have posted in all my years of blogging (here’s the other one).
I did some research and found that a deer w/melanism– their bodies produce too much of the hair, skin and retina pigment known as melanin – are definitely the rarest of the rare whitetails. A black deer is certainly more uncommon than a brown-and-white piebald, and even rarer than the odd albino.
Biologists say that a melanic buck is usually not solid black. There are gray and brown/black color phases with white bellies and tails. I can’t imagine one prettier than Donnie’s.
Interestingly, a distinct pocket of melanic deer lives in several counties in central Texas, but otherwise a black deer is a freak of nature, with one popping up here and there every once in a while, most recently in Iowa.
Anybody ever seen a black deer? I never have in all my travels and days of hunting, but I’d sure like to.
Nope, never have seen a black one. I have seen 6 piebald deer, 2 albino raccoons, and an albino squirrel but no melanistic animals. I did see a black phase red fox called a silver fox but that is as close as I have come. Really great looking deer there..You don’t hear about them very often. Thanks for the pictures and the article.
I saw a black doe while bow hunting on a large farm that I used to hunt about 10 yrs ago. She was with another doe and the contrast of color was so cool! At first I thought it was a colt that had gotten loose hanging around with a deer.
2 years ago I also seen a very very dark doe at Cades Cove in the Smokey Mountains. Congrats to the hunter!
I’ve seen a melanistic coyote while hunting for deer which was really cool, but never have I seen a whitetail that’s all black. That would be one really neat mount! Congrats to you Donny on taking a true “unicorn” of a buck