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Farmington man shoots albino deer near Isle

Owen Clark is pictured with the albino deer he shot Saturday.

Owen Clark has never been a trophy hunter, but he's making an exception for the deer he shot last Saturday. The Farmington resident is used to shooting whitetail, but this one was a little different. It was white all over.

Clark shot the albino deer while hunting with his sons on farmland south of Isle.

"We heard that there was sightings of a white deer in the area from the land owner," Clark said. "We were kind of excited about seeing it on the opening weekend."

Neither Clark nor either of his twin sons saw the ghostly deer on their first weekend up north. They had to be satisfied with the big buck one of Clark's sons shot.

They went back to the land last weekend for another try, but things didn't start well then, either. It was cold and rainy and they didn't see anything. So, after a mostly miserable morning, they went back to their camper to warm up.

That's when the deer appeared, walking through an open farm field about 50 yards away. With all of the browns and grays in the landscape, the animal's white coat stood out like a patch of fresh snow.

"I said to my son, 'Wow, there's the white deer,'" Clark said. "He asked me if he could shoot it and I told him no."

Clark hadn't suddenly turned conservationist. He thought the deer was a little too far away for his son to hit, and his first thought was to grab his camera. He wanted a record of the albino deer. Something to confirm he'd seen it.

Besides, he said, shooting an albino deer is thought to bring bad luck.

But then his son asked again if he could shoot it. He said he wanted his picture in the paper. So, Clark agreed. His son took a couple of shots, but by that time the deer was too far away. Clark took a shot of his own and hit the deer the first time. His rangefinder said the shot was 256 yards.

"I would have rather had him hit it," Clark said. "It's even better when a youngster gets a memory deer like that."

Clark's sons, both 14, have been hunting with rifles since they were 12.

Albino deer don't tend to live long in the wild, in part because their white coats make them so visible. Clark said the animal's coat was also thinner and softer than a normal deer's.

Clark has never mounted the head of a deer he's shot, but he planned to take this one in to a taxidermist Wednesday. He figures it's worth it for a once-in-a-lifetime animal.

"Everybody wants to hang it on the wall," he said. "Personally, I'd rather have a big, brown, beautiful buck, but it's one of those things people never, ever see. My dad's 75 and he's never seen a white deer. Most people haven't."

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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