Nature

New Braunfels’ Black Deer – Rarest of the Rare [VIDEO]

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The rarest form of white-tailed deer isn’t the albino or even the big-antlered deer. It’s the black deer or melanistic deer. The majority of hunters have never heard of such deer, but they do exist in small numbers and the Texas Hill Country is home to the world’s largest population of the rare animals.

Melanism is a condition where the body produces excess amounts of the pigment melanin. This causes the opposite of albinism: dark coloration. Melanistic deer can be a deep brown or black as midnight. This colorization helps the deer hide in shadows and dark brush. Very few documented cases of the animals exist, the first such records going back only as far as 1929. Though more of them live in an 8-county area in Central Texas than any other place on the planet, the melanistic whitetail is nonetheless quite rare.

Video by Patton Drewett

At this point, every hunter is likely thinking to himself: wouldn’t a black deer make a great trophy? Can the melanistic whitetail be hunted? The answer is yes and no. Northamericanwhitetail.com reports that there are no public hunting opportunities as “most of the animals live on large, leased ranches with tightly controlled access.” However, a handful of hunters have bagged such deer over the years. A semi-melanistic whitetail was shot in Dimmit County in ’97. An eight-point melanistic buck was shot on a ranch near Austin in ‘98.

For those more inclined toward trophies of the photographic variety, the animals have been known to appear in certain neighborhoods of Hill Country towns like New Braunfels. In the Northwoods subdivision of New Braunfels, residents have grown very fond of their wild black whitetails.

Nature photographer Richard Buquoi captured a black fawn in several photos taken in the Austin area. Buquoi said of his rare find, “This is a wild deer, but resides in a greenbelt near a neighborhood. I took the images when the deer were roaming through the neighborhood. The two fawns in the photos are twins, but only the one is black…They are a rare phenomenon to see. We’re always happy to find someone who enjoys viewing our images as much as we enjoyed taking them.”

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