BuckTracker: Inferior Albinos?

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.

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Indrebo and his son Shane have taken particular interest in the huge albino buck pictured above. Photographed numerous times by Shane (shaneindrebo.com), 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.