Q&A: Is this Black Buck for Real?

Jan_29_07 Mike: This photo came to me from Michigan with this note: "this black deer (melanistic color phase) is even more rare than an albino."

Ever hear of or see something like this? Do you think it's legit? If so, how rare is a black deer? Ryan

Ryan: Yes, I have heard of melanistic deer, but no, I have never seen one and likely never will. I did some research and found that a black deer is much rarer than an albino or piebald (see previous post). There seems to be a pocket of melanistic deer in central Texas, but other than that they are just freaks of nature, with one popping up here and there once in a while.

The last one I heard about was a black 8-pointer shot in PA about 5 years ago. It was not this one.

BTW, biologists say that a melanistic buck is usually not solid black. There are various gray and brown/black color phases with white bellies and tails. The buck in this photo looks too jet black, plus something about it just looks too staged. The deer's big face reminds me of a cow, right?

Photoshop I'd say, somebody correct me if I'm wrong.

Wow, it didn't take long for me to be corrected this time. Thanks to ZONER Trent who commented:

Mike, I thought this deer looked familiar, and I found where I had seen it before.

http://www.northamericanwhitetail.com/weirdwhitetails/ww_0904calf/

Come to find out the buck is for real and it was shot in 2004 in the Texas Hill Country where melanistic deer are most often found (not from Michigan, somebody was pulling Ryan's leg). At least I was right about one thing, it looks like a cow (read the article).