A rare albino deer was shot by an 11-year-old boy in Michigan last week and all the news stories I could find were celebratory. His father, Matt Dingman, said:
He kind of feels like a rock star right now. Everyone is calling, all of the hunting shows and hunting magazines.
A rock star. For killing an animal of rare and exquisite beauty, using a crossbow from thirty yards. The boy, Gavin, explained his kill:
I double-lunged it.
But the boy’s skill with a crossbow isn’t the point. It’s not even the fact that an albino deer stands out in the forest like blood on snow, so spotting him wasn’t much of a feat. This particular buck was estimated to be about 3 ½ years old, so either he was exceptionally skilled at survival, or others made the decision for a long time to leave this majestic creature alone.
Sometimes the right thing to do is pass up a shot.
Before there is a barrage of protest, I get that Michigan is filled with hunters. I get that many, if not most, hunters use the meat from their kills. What I don’t get is how a parent doesn’t instruct his child in the beauty found in nature and that, sometimes, the right thing to do is to pass up a shot.
It was left to readers, especially hunters, to make that point in their comments to the media.
From readers of The Blaze.com:
Im a hunter, shooter and overall gun nut but I still would not have killed this deer.
I had a chance to do the same thing in central Wisconsin when I was I kid. I passed on the shot figuring there were plenty of other deer in the forest. [It was] fun to watch the white deer for the next few years.
From fans of WZZM:
Ann Dunlop · Top Commenter · Instructor at Michigan State University
With a deer so rare, it should have been left in the wild to live our his days and so others can enjoy. I’d much rather see it in the woods or in a field than on someone’s wall
James Sager · Top Commenter · Central Texas College
I remember when a REAL hunter only killed to feed the family. Not for sport. A dear like this would never have been shot by a real hunter. What the hell are we teaching (or not teaching) kids today? My father wold have taken my gun away from me for doing this. (and I probably would not have been able to sit down with out a pillow for a while)
Sad that he is now dead and people can’t see him. I would love to see him but I would have only shot a picture of him.
Of course, to every response that was critical of the decision Matt Dingman made, there are dozens of replies calling the commenters “scum” and “hippies” and “liberal shit” and “anti-hunting fanatics.” But they simply don’t get the point. This isn’t about hunting, per se. Why does anyone have the right to selfishly possess this rare creature rather than letting him exist for others to enjoy the sight of? The subject under examination is respect, as well as reverence.
An albino deer is a rare gift of nature.
How rare are albino deer? The estimates range from one in 20,000 to 1 in 100,000. They’re rare enough that in some states — notably Illinois, Iowa, Tennessee, Wisconsin and parts of Montana — it’s illegal to kill them. It used to be illegal in Michigan, too, until 2008.
Matt Dingman is going to have the whole animal stuffed by a taxidermist. He said:
It’s too rare and too pretty not to spend the extra money and have the whole thing done.
What a shame that he didn’t recognize, and tell his son, that many others appreciate how rare and pretty it was — too rare and pretty to destroy. Dingman also told the media:
The whole neighborhood is familiar with it. Quite a few of the guys in the neighborhood were trying to get it.
The first part I can buy — that “the whole neighborhood was familiar with it.” The second part is harder to swallow. If “quite a few of the guys” were out to get it, why did it live peacefully for 3 ½ years only to be brought down by an 11-year-old?
It’s a sad story — one that will leave an ache in many a reader’s heart.