Leetsdale boy spots albino buck
August Pryor was enjoying a few days off from school, when he glanced outside during the morning of Nov. 22.
In his Leetsdale yard was, what he thought to be, a goat.
Except it wasn't.
The “goat” actually was an albino buck, an extremely rare variation of deer.
“I looked closer and saw his antlers,” the 10-year-old fifth-grader at Edgeworth Elementary said.
He alerted his sister and her friend, and snapped a picture.
His mother, Stephanie, said the visitor remained calm and unnerved for quite some time.
“The three of them (August, his sister and her friend) went out on the patio, and the buck didn't really move or act scared,” Stephanie said. “He just hung out and laid down for a couple of hours.”
August said he originally saw the deer around 9 a.m., and after it ate and rested for a while, left around lunchtime.
Patrick Snickles, of the state Game Commission, said albino deer make up less than 1 percent of the deer population.
“Albino deer, in general, are a big deal,” Snickles said. “I've been a hunter since I was 12, and I'm 54 now. I've only seen probably six or eight my entire life.”
Despite being an extremely rare type of deer, albino deer are not given any special restrictions pertaining hunting.
“Believe it or not, the laws pertaining to hunting albino deer are the same as white-tail deer,” Snickles said.
However, some seasoned hunters know the scarcity of the deer, as well as the superstition.
“There seems to be two strong schools of thought for albino deer,” Snickles said. “Some people have no issue hunting them. But some know about the superstition of bad luck associated with killing them. And because of that, there are definitely many people who won't hunt them.”
Snickles also noted that while many may believe they've spotted an albino deer, they've actually witnessed what's known as a piebald deer.
“Piebald deer can have white on them somewhere, but it's very patchy and the amount of white on them can vary greatly. Albino deer have a distinct pink tinge to their hooves, ears and eyes,” Snickles said.
For August, though, he knew the sighting was unique, and looked forward to telling his teachers all about it when he returned to school the next week.
His mom was equally enthralled. “She texted the picture to some of my friend's moms,” August said. “They all thought it was super cool.”
Christina Sheleheda is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.