View Full Version : Deer Regs We Don’t Need

10-13-2011, 07:25 AM
The Color Conundrum
While most deer are brownish in color, there are several genetic variations. Albino deer lack the enzyme responsible for skin, hair and tissue coloration; white deer have normally pigmented noses, eyes and hooves; and piebald deer have brown and white spotting patterns. These deer tend to have a lot of physical abnormalities, including poor vision, short legs, curved spines and malformed internal organs.
“There’s no biological reason to protect them,” said Brian Murphy, wildlife biologist and executive director for the Quality Deer Management Association. “Protecting them shouldn’t be regulated by the state, but be the decision of landowners and hunters.”

Preserving albino deer goes against sound deer management, but that doesn’t stop many states from doing so. Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Wisconsin prohibit the killing of albino deer. Iowa goes so far as to protect any deer that’s 50 percent or more white—try figuring that out when a huge buck is standing in front of you and you have just seconds to decide whether to shoot!
“A long time ago, a legislator had some albinos on his property, and he managed to get legislation passed to protect them,” said Steve Nifong, chief of law enforcement for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
Oklahoma protects albino and piebald deer out of respect for American Indian culture. Some tribes believe white animals are closer to the spirit world, and it’s bad luck to harvest them.
It can also be expensive, as one former state legislator found out last season.
Shortly after Thanksgiving last year in Oklahoma, former state Rep. Terry Harrison killed a piebald deer on his own property. Proud of his trophy, Harrison called his local newspaper to report the unique kill.
Unbeknownst to Harrison, he had killed the deer illegally, as he had not first received written permission from the state wildlife director to take such an animal. Since 1998, Oklahoma law has required that hunters receive, in writing, permission from the state wildlife director before taking a white or piebald deer—a requirement that makes such deer practically off-limits to any hunter who happens across one in the field.
Upon learning of his mistake, Harrison, who served on the state wildlife committee and helped write some of the state’s hunting laws during his time in the Oklahoma House, yet had no knowledge of Oklahoma’s law protecting albino and piebald deer, contacted a local game warden and reported his violation. He was issued a $296 fine.
“But if you have an albino deer on your property, it’s easy to get written permission from the department to harvest it,” said Michael Bergin, an information specialist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Perhaps, but if you see such a deer for the first time during hunting season, the written permission requirement is a burdensome regulation that will keep you from filling your tag. Members of the Oklahoma Legislature apparently agree, as a bill (HB 1314) is currently pending to repeal the need for a hunter to obtain prior permission in order to legally shoot a white deer.
In Michigan, a state law prohibiting the harvesting of albino deer only came off the books following a lawsuit and a hunter’s four-year battle to clear his name.
On Dec. 19, 2004, hunter John Ingersoll was hunting on private land in Emmet County, Mich., when he saw an eight-point buck that was mostly white, with dark patches on its head and hocks. The buck was a piebald, so Ingersoll harvested it. At the time, Michigan prohibited harvesting albino deer.
An elderly couple filed a complaint with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), claiming Ingersoll killed an albino they’d been feeding for years. The incident set off a flurry of negative reactions against the Michigan hunter. Newspaper articles and letters to the editor claimed Ingersoll killed an albino deer, which led to community outrage.
“I couldn’t go out to dinner, because people would come up to me and start yelling at me, asking why I would kill a pet deer,” said Ingersoll.
Ingersoll filed a defamation lawsuit against several defendants, including DNR officials, who allegedly made false statements against him regarding the deer’s coloration. The case went to the Michigan Supreme Court, before being thrown out.
As a result, Michigan changed its regulation in 2008, allowing hunters to kill albino deer.
When it comes to unneccesary regulations, there appears to be no shortage. In Michigan, it’s also unlawful to carry afield or transport any rifle (including rimfire) or shotgun with ammo five days before the start of deer season. Maryland law prohibits hunters from moving a deer until it’s been tagged (even for pictures). In Wisconsin, it’s legal to shoot a deer in velvet, but there’s a rule requiring that hunters get written permission from the DNR to keep the antlers. And a host of states, including Kansas, forbid the use of hounds to track wounded game, despite a hunter’s ethical obligation to do everything possible to recover his quarry.

10-14-2011, 12:28 PM
No hunting on Sunday is the biggest regulation we don't need. I've had many hunts ruined by mountain bikers, dog walkers, folks on horses, ATVs, etc. that share these sometimes busy state forrests. But, why are we hunters the ONLY group dicsriminated against when it comes to using the woods on Sunday? Our season is rather limited and regulated compared to others. In these busy times of multiple jobs, kids, and seasonal demands, it'd be nice to have more options to enjoy the pastime.

On the taking of non-brown deer, I'd pass on it just because I've never seen one. But, we don't need regulation about it. Politicians should not be making game mgt decisions.