Rick Brockway

Every once in a while someone shoots a white deer.

They are quite rare. Many of them are called piebalds. A piebald in not an albino and usually has some brown markings somewhere on their bodies.

A few years ago, a friend of mine from Portsmouth, N.H., called me.

“I just shot a huge, white buck,” Tommy said.

“You do know that shooting a white buck is a curse according to ancient Indian legend?” I said.

“Well, it’s not totally white. It has a brown cap on top of its head. ... Why, what’s the curse?” he asked nervously.

I told him that anyone who shoots a white deer has angered the gods and will never have another successful hunt. Well, Tommy had a bunch of bad luck after that.

Some anti-hunters had him arrested for shooting the deer too close to the highway. The game warden confiscated the deer as well as his hunting license. He later got both of them back when found not guilty in court, but the lawyer cost him well over a thousand dollars before it was over.

Actually, the deer was shot several hundred yards back in the woods but ran out next to the highway before dropping. Other negative things happened, but let’s move on.

In Europe, the curse of the white deer is far worse. It was thought that if a person shoots a white deer, someone in his family would die within a year.

In America, the “Curse of the White Deer” actually comes from an old Chickasaw Indian legend. A young Indian brave went to the chief to ask permission to marry his daughter. The chief told him that he could if he brought him the skin of a white deer. The brave named Blue Jay was given a moon (one month) to accomplish this very difficult task.

For three weeks, Blue Jay hunted for a white deer. Finally one moonlit night, he saw a pure white buck. He drew back his bow and released the arrow, striking the deer in the heart. The deer didn’t fall. With fiery red eyes and sharp horns, it ran right toward the brave.

Blue Jay never returned, and Bright Moon — the Indian maiden — never married. She often saw the white deer with the arrow in its heart on foggy, moonlit nights. She waited for the deer to fall so Blue Jay would return, but he never did.

To this day, the white deer is sacred to the Chickasaw people, and the white deer hide is favored for making a wedding dress.

Would I ever shoot a white deer? Never, but not because of a curse or some ancient legend.

I’ve only seen one white deer in my entire life, and I wasn’t hunting.

We were at a family barbecue in New Berlin one summer day. In the late afternoon, several deer moved out of the woods to feed in the meadow. With the does came a white buck.

I watched him with binoculars for quite a while before he went back into the trees. I heard that a hunter from Utica took him that fall.

There is a herd of white deer (a recessive form of the whitetail deer) on the Seneca Army Depot in Seneca County. There are about 300 white deer (not albino) on the 10,600-acre, fenced-in area.

The other day while hunting, I did see a white rabbit — you know, a snowshoe rabbit or varying hare. With no snow on the ground, he was rather obvious. I’m surprised that he hadn’t been dinner for the bobcats that roam my hill.

I could have shot him if I wanted. After all, I’ve never heard about a “Curse of the White Rabbit.”

Rick Brockway writes a weekly outdoors column for The Daily Star. Email him at robrockway@hotmail.com.

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