Eleven-year-old Gavin Dingman of Oceola Township, Mich., shot the deer of his life Oct. 20, 2014, a 12-point albino whitetail buck. Since then, the story has gone viral online. And some comments online in response to the news, from anti-hunters and hunters alike, lead one to assume the youngster shot the Golden Goose or the last of the species, or at least broke the law. Of course none of that is true.
Gavin merely did what deer hunters across the country do millions of times every fall: He shot a nice buck.
The two hunters actually had spotted the deer several times in recent years, Gavin’s father, Mick, told the Livingston Daily. Other hunters had, too. In fact, Mick said some of those other hunters even talked about bagging the buck. But it was Gavin who killed it.
That doesn’t sit well with many folks. “We’ve had death threats and everything else that you can imagine,” Mick Dingman told OutdoorHub. He said family members described the threats as “graphic and disturbing.”
Albinism is quite rare; perhaps only one in 100,000 deer are born albino. And evidently, such scarcity and supposed mystical properties lead many hunters to decide they wouldn't shoot such a deer. I can't find fault with any of that; within the limits of the law and safety, each individual is free to choose what he would or wouldn't shoot. But when hunters force cultural choices and beliefs upon others in the face of scientific evidence to the contrary, they are no better than anti-hunters pleading with misplaced emotion.
I’ve hunted across North America and on two other continents, and I’ve never seen an albino anything in the wild. If I saw an albino doe, or a small albino buck, I’d consider myself lucky. I’d note the day, and tell everyone about it. But I wouldn’t shoot it. But if I saw a 12-point albino buck, you can bet the farm I’d shoot it. And I’d tell everyone about it, too.
Some wildlife experts actually recommend targeting albino deer, and why not? Who wants a recessive trait running rampant in a herd? Albinism is a freak of nature. Albino animals are born into health problems. If that isn’t enough, consider an all-white critter in the woods: Makes a pretty easy target for predators, does it not? How long does anyone think such an animal has to live? Protecting albinism, a recessive gene, isn’t anything to celebrate.
Consider a sixth-grader hunting with his dad. Consider his joy at seeing not only a rare member of a species, but a trophy to boot. “My dad was like, ‘Take a deep breath. Are you sure you can take the shot? If you’re not 100 percent, we don’t want to injure it,’” Gavin told the Daily Press & Argus. Sounds like pretty responsible hunting if you ask me.
Many comments online are written by anti-hunters. Of course we all know how they feel about hunting, and how hunters feel about them. (Don’t get me started on their lack of spelling skills, their inability to form proper sentences, their failure to grasp simple rules of punctuation … ) But a hunter who blasts a kid for shooting a trophy? Lighten up, Francis.
The Dingmans plan a full-body mount. I concur. Cheers, Gavin.