Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For January 14th, 2011 Edition.
One highly treasured gift I received during the Christmas Season was a stunning beautiful “picture book” entitled “White Deer, Ghosts of the Forest” by Jeff Richter and John Bates. It goes well with Jeff’s earlier book, “Seasons of the North” (2003).
Jeff is a renowned outdoor photographer who shuns digital enhancement of photos and only uses original photos taken of his outdoor subjects without any alterations! John Bates is a five start naturalists and author who is nationally recognized as an authority on a wide variety of flora and fauna native to North America. Together they have created an outdoor masterpiece.
“White Deer, Ghosts of the Forest” is a perfect “cabin book” filled with magnificent photographs of numerous white deer interspersed with much interesting information concerning one of Ma Nature’s most beautiful and mysterious animals. The book certainly ignited a host of personal memories concerning our local population of white deer, which most folks call albinos.
One of Jeff’s quotes, found on page 19, really opened a flood of memories concerning my personal sightings of the elusive and rare white deer. “Whenever I talk with people about white deer, almost without exception they recall with great clarity their first sighting.”
My first sighting of a white deer occurred in 1946. I was riding to school in St. Germain’s only school bus one late May morning when our bus driver, Len Weber, suddenly pulled over to the side of highway 155 and stopped. “Hey kids – look at the white fawn!”
Just a few feet from the edge of the roadway was a mother doe and her two newborn fawns – one brown with white spots and one just plain white! As Jeff predicted, I recall my first visual sighting of a white deer with great clarity!
St. Germain, like the Boulder Junction area has had a long history of white deer sightings being fairly commonplace. One of our townships most famous white deer was “Deerie” a white doe that was reportedly discovered motherless by Lester Dedlow who lived on Juve Road in St. Germain. I do not recall the exact year when Lester befriended the supposedly orphaned animal but my memory tells me it was in the late 1940s or early 1950s.
Lester and Deerie became the best of friends and his wild pet could nearly always be seen in or near Lester’s yard. If curious visitors arrived hoping to see Deerie they were infrequently disappointed as Lester would whistle and call out “Come Deerie, come” and Deerie would romp out of the surrounding forest and pose for photos while eating treats out of anyone’s hand.
Lester created a fairly lucrative summer business out of Deerie’s friendly and photogenic personality. Although Lester did not charge a fee for photo sessions with his pet deer he did have a large “donation can” occupying a convenient location in his yard that bore a sign suggesting; “Donations for feeding Deerie during the winter gladly accepted.” Ah yes, Lester was a good businessman!
During deer season, even though white/albino deer are protected by law in Wisconsin, Lester tied a large red bow around Deerie’s neck and kept her in his garage during daylight hours as added insurance his meal ticket wouldn’t be shot.
Lester claimed Deerie lived for seventeen years and produced over 30 offspring, several of which were white/albinos.
For as long as I can remember the area in St. Germain from the north shore of Big St. Germain Lake northeastward to Lost Lake has always had a population of white deer. As a youngster my pals and I frequently hunted an area north of Big Saint locally known as the “section sixteen area.” It lies north of the lake, east of Section 16 Road and west and south of highway 155. Back then the area was pure wilderness containing numerous ridges and ravines covered in old growth hardwoods and balsam thickets.
It was a popular area for grouse, gray squirrels and deer, some of which were the white variety. During the mid-50s there were at least four white/albinos living in that area as my pals and I saw all four of them mixed in with a herd of normal brown deer several times while hunting the area. What great memories!
There is still at least one white deer still roaming that area and some residents have claimed to have seen more than one living there in recent years. I personally have viewed one such animal numerous times crossing highway 155 between the northern entrance to the Section 16 Road and east to Lost Lake Drive West. This is a danger zone for deer/vehicle collisions as the long curvy section of highway 155 contains many major deer crossings. Drivers are advised to slow up and stay alert.
I’ve also viewed a white deer along Lost Lake Drive West between highway 155 and the intersection of Four Corner Lane. My most recent sighting of a white deer took place in late July of 2010 while fishing with clients on Little Bass Lake, which is located just a few hundred yards south of Lost Lake Drive West.
The deer was feeding on native vegetation in a swampy area along the north shore of the quiet, pristine lake, which allowed my clients, Lou Kristaniac and Dick Balboa, both from the Chicago area, to snap several photos of the rare animal. I’m certain their memory of the event will always be recalled in great clarity!
Despite the fact white/albino deer are protected by law occasionally some uninformed or uncaring hunter shoots one. Also, occasionally an albino is killed in a collision with a vehicle. Normally when either of these two scenarios takes place an attempt is made to preserve the dead animal via the taxidermy route.
Naturally, permission/permits have to be obtained from the DNR prior to transporting the specimen to a taxidermist. Failure to do so will undoubtedly put you in deep trouble with the DNR, a situation everyone should try their hardest to avoid!
Mounted specimens of white/albino bucks can be viewed at two local localities, one of which is the main office at the DNR Service Center on highway J between Woodruff and St. Germain. The second locale is inside the main entrance of North Lakeland School, which is located at the intersection of county highways K and P.
As I understand it, the buck displayed at the DNR station was shot by a hunter and confiscated and the buck displayed at NLS was hit by a vehicle on highway K. The school gained permission to have the buck mounted and displayed at the institution.
Keep your eyes open and possibly you too will record a memory that will always be recalled in great clarity!
Mr. Leon "Buckshot" Anderson is one of the few old time hunting and fishing guides left in Northern Wisconsin. Buckshot is a personal friend of the family and has known and worked with my grandfather, Howard "Pop" Dean, both of whom are members of the fresh water fishing hall of fame, Legendary Guide. Buckshot has authored 7 books on the great outdoors. All of his books can be purchased directly from him, at a discount, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to: 2220 Deadman's Gulch Road, St. Germain, WI 54558.
Books by Leon "Buckshot" Anderson Click Here
Yes; Deadman's Gulch is the correct name, I have been on that road many times. Sincerely David D. Cruger
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