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  • July 31, 2008

    New TV Show: When Whitetails Attack

    By Scott Bestul

    From WTHI TV News:

    The story of deer attacking pedestrians on the Southern Illinois University campus in Carbondale is drawing national attention.

    SIU wildlife researcher Clay Nielsen is set to appear Sunday night on an hour-long Discovery Channel program called "When Animals Strike. . . ."

    Nielsen addresses a series of human-deer encounters at SIU during the summers of 2005 and 2006. That's when a half dozen people required hospital care after being attacked by deer at the school.

  • July 31, 2008

    Whitetail News Roundup

    By Scott Bestul

    Bob Barker Bashes Suburban Deer Hunts

    Wisconsin Plans Deer Hunt For Disabled

    Airport Sharpshooter Misses Deer, Nearly Hits Workers

  • July 30, 2008

    BuckTracker: Back In the Picture

    By Scott Bestul

    I’m messing with trail cameras again. There are, as we all know, folks who run a circuit of scouting cams like some men run trap lines. I’ll admit I’ve never been one of them, and I can’t really explain why. Laziness is my best guess. Cameras got big about a decade ago, and my wife and I had our hands full with newborn twins. Maybe I didn’t want to add one more thing to my already-heaping plate? I honestly can’t remember.

    I know this much: I have never counted myself in the crowd that says cameras are unethical or, somehow, cheating. Snapping a buck’s picture is like finding one piece of a thousand-part puzzle, not a visual slam dunk that puts your tag on him. And as for a scout cam spooking a buck, I have no doubt of that possibility and, indeed, have seen it happen. But will that event blow him out of his core area? Doubtful, unless you place the thing in a sensitive area (for the buck, of course) and you’re running in there every other day and mucking about.


    But for me there has never been any doubt that candid shots of whitetails are simply cool. So I decided to get a little more serious this summer about getting some. I read up on some tactics. Talked to some scout-cam freaks and took notes. And then I started sticking cameras out. I made a few dumb mistakes and corrected them. Took some neat photos of does, fawns and young bucks. And then, this week, the buck below. I nicknamed him Hollywood because he posed in front of my StealthCam six times and gave me multiple views of his antlers. Of course he’s no world-beater, but for my neighborhood he’s awful handsome. And know what? On a hot summer day, with bow season 49 long days away, it just makes me happy knowing he’s out there. Even if I never see him again…

  • July 24, 2008

    Spyder The Six-Legged Deer Makes Headlines

    By Scott Bestul

    From Georgia’s Rome News-Tribune:

    Melissa and Alan Dunagan were out walking when their dogs chased the fawn, separating it from its mother. “It wasn’t until after we put the dogs back in the house and were about to release the fawn that we realized it had six legs,” said Melissa Dunagan.

    And from a follow-up News-Tribune story:

    The six-legged wonder deer that has captured the attention of the world will now have a permanent home in Athens, thanks to the work of Dr. George Gallagher.

    Spyder, as Gallagher named it, will spend the rest of its life at a private facility run by an Athens woman who rehabilitates deer.

    Be sure to check out the video.

  • July 24, 2008

    Whitetail News Roundup

    By Scott Bestul

    Minnesota DNR Shoots Sheep Carcasses To Test Lead

    Florida Woman Trampled By Deer

  • July 23, 2008

    BuckTracker: Inferior Albinos?

    By Scott Bestul

    Could the long-standing belief that albino whitetails are genetically inferior be an old wive’s tale? This week, I had a chat with friend Tom Indrebo that has me rethinking that theory. Indrebo, who owns the well-known “Bluff Country Outfitters” in Buffalo County, Wisconsin, has seen his share of white deer over the last two decades. In addition to trophy bucks, Western Wisconsin is famous for its population of albinos. At one point, the game manager there told me he knew of 18 different albinos in his area.


    Indrebo and his son Shane have taken particular interest in the huge albino buck pictured above. Photographed numerous times by Shane (, a professional photographer specializing in wildlife and nature, this buck is now 8-1/2 years old. “His shed antlers are regularly found, and have gross-scored over 170” each of the last four seasons,” Shane says. “Last year’s set—a 12-point typical with one sticker—would have grossed in the 190’s. I’ve photographed and filmed the buck frequently, and body-wise he’s larger than any brown deer I’ve seen.”

    Tom’s experience with this and other white deer have him wondering about the old “genetically inferior” argument. “Sure, we’ve seen some of these bucks get sick and sometimes die, but invariably it’s when they’re 6, 7, 8 years old or above,” Tom says. “Who knows if the same thing would’ve happened to a brown deer? It’s hard to tell, because the brown deer almost never get that old; they always get shot first (albino deer are protected in Wisconsin).”

    So what are your thoughts? Does this look like a whitetail suffering from a poor dip in the gene pool? And please correct me if you know otherwise, but I’d hazard a guess that this may be the largest walking white deer ever photographed.

  • July 18, 2008

    Atari Unveils Deer Hunter Tournament Game

    By Scott Bestul

    From (a site dedicated to video games):

    One of biggest surprises here today at [the] E3 [gaming show in Las Vegas] for me came from Donny Clay, a producer at Atari. The game? Brace yourself: Deer Hunter Tournament. . . .  The game was made even more fun by Donny’s colorful attitude. He wasn’t afraid to make a joke or two and seemed to thoroughly enjoy the product he was pitching. 

    “There are two kinds of hunting,” according to Donny. “There the days when you go out and get hammered with your friends and shoot at everything that moves and the kind where you go out and you cover yourself in deer piss and try to nail a big buck. This is a game for the deer piss hunters,” Donny laughed.

    So, does Donny’s description make you more or less apt to buy the game?

  • July 18, 2008

    Whitetail News Roundup

    By Scott Bestul

    Car Hits Deer; Deer Hits Bicyclers

    Ready Or Not: Deer Breaks Boy’s Jaw In Hide-And-Seek Collision

    Ohio Opens Metro Parks To Deer Hunting

    Connecticut Deer Gets Tennis Ball Lodged In Mouth

  • July 17, 2008

    BuckTracker: The Thrill Killers

    By Scott Bestul

    My truck was at the end of the driveway when we spotted the deer. It was laying in a little square of timber—fifty yards wide, the same distance deep—just beyond my mailbox. “Oh,” I said to my hunting pal Mark, “someone hit a doe and she died right there.” But when we walked toward the “roadkill,” the deer was not only antlerless, but headless as well.

    In an instant I knew the deer we were approaching. In the weeks prior, most of my neighbors had seen a giant 10-point feeding and chasing does in the field across from my home. While there are always one or two decent bucks in the area, this deer was special, a monarch that was making himself visible and getting folks pretty excited. I had high hopes that one of the neighbors (or of course, me or my dad) would get a shot at him. I called the warden out to investigate, but they never were able to nail the poachers who shot the buck with a small-caliber rifle.

    A few years ago, I’d have been tempted to think the buck was shot by a pro; someone who could benefit financially from killing a trophy buck. But the more I read, the less I believe that. Many of the top poaching busts made in this region lately have basically amounted to the thrill-killing scenario described in the news account preceding this blog. These cases seem to play out in similar fashion; a local (often a kid or group of kids) shoots a deer from the vehicle. They get away with it once, then twice, then…Well, they get hooked. Pretty soon they’re out there all the time, killing stuff off the road. Sometimes they take a head, sometimes not.

    Unfortunately I’ve read about several cases like this, including an Iowa man whom wardens caught with over 40 deer heads in a shed, and a group of Wisconsin teenagers who shot a pair of twin albino fawns and left them lay. Is this scenario playing out in other areas of the country? Or are the poachers finding a way to market their deer? And perhaps most important; is there anything we can do to stop this disturbing waste of wildlife? I’m anxious to hear your thoughts.

  • July 11, 2008

    Poacher’s Defense: “I’m Addicted To Killing Big Deer”

    By Scott Bestul

    No surprise, the judge wasn’t buying it. From the Zanesville Times-Recorder:
    Jonathan Martin, 43, of Greenfield, [Ohio,] was convicted of eight misdemeanor counts related to the illegal harvesting of white-tailed deer and wild turkey. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail, with the time suspended, pending additional wildlife violations. He was also ordered to serve 60 hours of community service. His hunting privileges were revoked for a total of 20 years and he was ordered to pay more than $2,500 in fines, court costs and restitution. In addition, he was ordered to forfeit a high-powered rifle, archery equipment, photographs and deer parts to the state. . . .

    At this week's sentencing, Martin told Judge David McKenna of Hillsboro Municipal Court: "I can't help myself; I'm addicted to killing big deer."

    Minnesota Issues Lead Warning To Deer Hunters
    New Jersey County Installs Roadside Deer Alarms
    Michigan Whitetail Crashes Class, Charges Prof
    Deer Wakes Up South Dakota Man On His Birthday

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