An 11-year-old hunter from Oceola Township, Michigan took the deer of a lifetime when he shot a 12-point albino buck with a crossbow on Monday. The animal was well-known to local hunters, but Gavin Dingman ended up being the one to harvest it.

“My dad was just like, ‘Take a deep breath. Are you sure you can take the shot? If you’re not 100 percent, we don’t want to injure it,'” Gavin told the Daily Press & Argus.

The sixth-grader was hunting with his dad, Mick Dingman, at the time. Although this albino buck was not Gavin’s first deer nor likely his last, it will be one that he will remember for a long, long time. Albino deer are incredibly rare, and mature bucks rarer still. Even sightings of these snow-colored deer are notable occasions, and only a handful of hunters have had the chance to harvest an albino buck. Wildlife biologists estimate that perhaps only one in a 100,000 deer are born albino.

True albino deer are markedly different from white deer, which carry recessive genes for all-white coats. One visual difference between the two is that all albino deer have pink facial features, notably the ears and nose. Albino deer are also sometimes born with health issues and even if they survive into adulthood, their strange coloration means that they make a big target for predators.

Some wildlife experts advocate targeting deer with albinism, since the trait is seen as undesirable among wild populations. However, some people see albino and white deer as animals that shouldn’t be hunted. Whatever the opinion, most sportsmen agree that the choice to either take or pass on a deer is entirely up to the hunter.

Yet not everyone thinks that way. A call to Mick Dingman revealed that what had once been a celebration over his son’s unique deer has quickly turned into something else.

“We’ve had death threats and everything else that you can imagine,” he told OutdoorHub.

The Dingmans did not expect a backlash on social media and in real life over the albino deer. Much of the criticism came from anti-hunting advocates and family members described the threats as graphic and disturbing. In addition to specific death threats, critics used to opportunity to bash hunting in general. Commenters on WZZM’s Facebook, which reported the story, called for a ban on hunting or even an “open season” on sportsmen. However, there were those who supported the Dingman family.

“Great trophy! Be proud young man!” wrote one commenter.

“While I personally am not a deer hunter, I think this young hunter is being taught very well. That [deer] will make for many meals for his family and a nice memory of time spent with his father,” stated another.

Most agreed that no matter your stance on hunting, sending personal death threats is not the correct way to go about debating the issue. Hopefully not too long from now, Gavin and his family can look back on this hunt with only pride and good memories.

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66 thoughts on “One in 100,000: Young Michigan Hunter Harvests Rare Albino Buck

  1. Awesome trophy, kiddo! Haters are gonna hate. Don’t listen to them. Fair chase ended with you winning the game against an animal on its own turf. Be proud

    1. What’s fair about someone with a weapon chasing an animal that just wants to live its natural life? I think killing this beautiful animal—only one in a thousand, for god’s sake—is reprehensible, and the fact that it was a kid doing the killing makes it downright shameful for us as a species. We are supposed to care for and nurture the earth and her wild creatures, not obliterate them.

  2. The rare albino Deer is ‘Awesome’ ! The killing of this beautiful creature is not.!! It is a moronic act of wanton destruction! Do not be proud of killing for ‘fun’. Your Pride is worth nothing and makes you a lesser, not a better person.

    1. When you eat what you shoot, it is not just for fun. The meat that you buy at the store did not just magically appear in the meat counter; someone killed it.

      1. No shit. But I don’t buy meat at the store, so your argument is pointless and, frankly, sophomoric (or foolish/naive, if you don’t know what that means. It’s a big word, after all).

    2. lol maybe we should hunt you. since you think, an animal’s life, is worth more than a humans!! if the economy, took a shit! you people would would starve. ” not a bad idea”

    3. Hunters don’t kill for “fun”. My grandfather was an avid hunter, and when we didn’t eat what we killed we donated the meat to fellow members of our church. Whether you believe in God or not, animals are food, for us and other animals. Unless you are a vegetarian, if you’re not killing your own dinner someone else is doing it for you. This deer may be beautiful, but he’s still part of the food chain.

    4. Hunting is a tradition in their family and a way to put nutricious and delicious food on their table. The young man broke no laws and regulations and did not kill for “fun”, but for food. Meat bought in stores is filled with growth hormones and other unhealthy additives. He and his family will have many great meals from this deer. Perhaps if disaster strikes and your market shelves become empty, you can swallow your pride and ask a hunter to keep you alive.

      1. Really? Didn’t do it for fun? Then don’t call it sport and wipe that big ol’ grin off your faces when you stand next to a dead-eyed animal that you killed “for food.” We’re not cavemen anymore. Strike that.

  3. I would like to address this comment to Jacqueline Marie and the naysayers who have violently addressed this wonderful accomplishment. First, let me say to Jacqueline that perhaps you should be more selective when perusing websites that interest you. It is obvious that you are an anti-hunter and while this website promotes much more than hunting, it does indeed boast the accomplishments of hunters young and old. Furthermore, you do not understand the natural laws of conservation, nor albinism. Albino animals almost never survive when they’re born in the wild. Baby albinos are viewed as an oddity within their own species and if they survive their own parents, are more visible to predators and rarely survive to adulthood. These animals most often are cursed with major health problems. Those lucky enough to be born in a zoo can look forward to a relatively comfortable life in a small pen, being gawked at by humans.
    One thing that was not mentioned in the article is the fact that successful hunting in Michigan is in itself a feat. The area where this young man bagged this trophy buck is densely forested, and even an albino animal would be difficult to see. If you read the article, you would see that harvesting this animal was not “for fun”, but to supply food for the hunter’s family. Admittedly, if your ancestors had not hunted for food, you would not be here.
    Like I said initially, you should be more selective in your website choices, but more importantly in the comments you post to those websites. Comments such as yours only prove your ignorance of the situation.

  4. Lori, I will agree you, if Jacqueline and others don’t like the fact that this buck was harvested…then wait until she and those others need food and see if they pass this buck up. When I hunted, yes, I like the hors but you know what…you can’t eat them.As for the young man and his Dad, they got to enjoy each others company and the taking of this fine animal, and putting food on the table for the family. I hope they have many more hunting years together…my Dad has passed and I will not be able to do that anymore.

  5. For anyone to stand up for protecting albinism, a recessive gene, a flaw, weakness, detriment, etc. proves a lack of practical knowledge. It makes as much sense as me reprimanding a doctor, lawyer, nuclear physicist, etc. I would sound like a “boob” spouting off about something I don’t understand. The fact the albino deer got to 3 1/2 probably illustrates the overpopulation of deer and at least in that range a lack of predators. When biologist say”rare” they don’t mean it is a strain that is being oppressed. They don’t mean it should not be hunted in order to promote more albinism, which usually means early death due to a general weakness. It is not a unicorn. Left alive the deer reintroduces a recessive gene into the herd, which is why they usually don’t survive even their own herd.

    However, the young man should be able to be proud of his harvest. It is a way cool trophy! Anyone who would harass, or threaten a boy and his family over this is obviously sociopathic. They have their priorities mixed up and don’t care. Putting animals over people, even rude narcissistic people (as are these liberal “boobs”) is wrong. They should get educated and turn off the “Disney” mentality.

    1. It is a rear animal why kill it you are a young lad you are interested in this you should take part
      in shooting competition. there you show your skill . what so good about your self to show the world that you are
      one of the member who destroy our world. Your father so proud of himself? Please save the world.

      1. Word mashing together make much sense. Thank for you speak many thought at time one. You can has venison charge now.

      2. He’s not “destroying the world” He’s hunting for food for his family! All you people saying that He’s a bad person needs to rethink your actions! It’s pitiful to see ADULTS bashing a little kid for killing a deer, probably one of his most happiest moments in his life. If y’all had any knowledge about this situation you’d know that an albino deer is not healthy for the population. They are born with many defects and are very unlikely to live to adulthood. I laugh at all the childish and ignorant people up here. How do y’all think you get your fancy steak or fish or chicken…oh Yeah, someone kills them for you!!! The only deference is that they don’t stand a chance in a tiny pen.

      3. Great always like to see children and young adults involved in hunting the father is making a lot of childhood memories for his son when he gets old he’ll probably say hey dad Remember that hunt I know my son does keep your hooks wet and your powder dry great job kiddo!!!!!

      4. Hunters for the Hungry donates millions of meals to needy families every year! Although rare, it was a legal animal to harvest. Hunters do not “destroy” the world. You would not be here if it were not for hunters feeding your ancestors…and they were most likely hunters themselves! The meat you buy in stores is not made…it is killed by processors to eat just as this fine young man killed this animal to feed his family. The U.S. is the only country in the world allowing growth hormones in our food! Why? Because they are bad for you! This deer will provide healthy meals.

    1. Pile, “harvest” illustrates the entire process, from “killing” to doing the dishes. I’m not softening anything. It is a way of life. If you think that hunters “kill” and that’s it, then you are proving your ignorance. Yes indeed I kill animals. But I also open cans, sometimes. If I stated I was operating a vehicle, would you call me out and say “the reality of it is driving?”. There are many words in the English language that allow us to specify what we mean. If we just throw around words our meaning is lost inside our heads, then people don’t understand because they can only go by what they think instead of responding to what is actually said. How’s that for a reality?

    2. Because hunting isn’t just about killing an animal it’s about food as well when they say harvest they are talking about the meat that they will take from such animal to harvest for food or to supply those in need of food

  6. Way to go boy. Me personally would not have taken the shot. But if my son had an opportunity too you can bet I would make sure like this boys dad did to make a safe and clean kill. I have seen two true albino deer and 1 half and half. All three time I chose not to take the animal. Just enjoy the view of them. Again way to go boy. And for the anti hunters out there go hug a tree maybe a squirrel will share a nut with you

    1. Jacqueline Marie sounds like you may have learned a thing or two from this article, stemming from the fact that you had no further comment. lets hope so .

  7. One has to remember that a recessive gene is exactly that, and having a wild animal with a recessive gene like this albino, is better taken out of the gene pool than left in. For those of you that disagree with hunting, please do your research. Legal hunters like this young man and his family are conscientious conservationists. They probably do more direct and personal good for local habitat and preserving healthy wild populations than most of the people posting negative comments. Help us conserve and insure the health of wild populations by supporting local hunters and their conservation efforts.

    1. Thank you for your encouragement. Not sure if you are a hunter, but you get it that’s for sure. You are correct about fishermen and hunters, we are the ones who float the boat for our natural resources in hunting and fishing and non game and predator relationships. The donated money to these causes amounts to a small percentage of actual spent dollars. The vast majority of us are also educated, and have continued our education and awareness about wildlife and natural resources, on a daily basis, our entire lives. We are not ” drive bys”. Even us folks who don’t take it to that level, still know quite a bit about stewardship. Very few are negligent, or abusive, and as a stewardship we as hunters and fishermen do not accept these kind of folks as hunters and fishermen.

      1. Exactly! We (yes, I hunt, and have working dogs) pay license fees that support state and federal habitat professionals who set limits each and every year to control the natural flora and fauna resources of every square foot of wilderness. We hunters boost local economies by spending our discretionary funds on travel, lodging and equipment. We donate hard dollars and personal hours to conservation efforts to clean up, renew, maintain and support wild habitat. MN Steward I like your comment “We are not ‘drive bys'”. Not in any way, shape or form. We are here to protect sustainable wild populations responsibly and we frown on misuse or waste of our natural resources.

  8. I am a hunter and have been one for 50 years. Am embarassed when a thoughtless act like this occurs. When I was living up in northern British Columbia there was an albino moose close to town, everyone knew about it, I saw it along with many others but would never shot such a magnificent animal. I think it is a burden that this young man may come to regret in the future as he matures and has a chance to think about what he did. It is not about the killing…This debate will go on but that is my thought.

      1. You don’t represent yourself or us hunters well. People are alowed to have their opinions but do so without being rude and put thought in your replies.

    1. Albinism is a flaw. You obviously have a hugger streak in you. Pomposity is flaw too, should you keep it up? There is no burden this boy should feel. He did an awesome job! A clean kill and harvest. Who cares if you think you are so great because you passed on the job.

    2. So you think an animal with recessive genes is magnificent, and less worthy of harvesting than a healthy animal? You’re no hunter.

  9. If these rare albino deer rarely live into adulthood because they sometimes have health issues and might not even survive their own parents, and are also greater targets for predators due to their coloring, I’d say this deer was doing just fine until this young hunter came along…this story is more about the thrill of bagging a rare deer than feeding anyone…I don’t like the hate comments from non-hunters, but I do understand where the feelings are coming from…and, believe me, the tables are always turned…anti-hunters get just as much visitation on their websites with the same vile comments and death threats…

    1. “Rare”, as in, it doesn’t happen very much. Not “rare”, as in there are only a few of this type of animal left. You pick and choose what you want to call reality. Albinism is a flaw. Not good for the herd. The fact that it doesn’t happen much only means there isn’t anything anyone can do about it. It does not mean a defect should be protected. The fact that you “ok” death threats and vile comments because you say you’ve seen it on other websites is truly disturbing. You are a monkey reacting to a bunch of monkeys and none of realize the detriment to yourselves. READ A BOOK!

      1. MN, I would have replied sooner, but I was busy reading a book…really, do you have to go there? Calling me names? How do you think that helps your cause? When hunters talk about protecting a herd, then why is it they only want to go after the big, healthy ones, the ones that the herds need to stay strong? Read my comment again…I never said I ‘ok’ death threats and vile comments…what I said was ‘I don’t like the hate comments from non-hunters’…when I say I understand where their feelings are coming from, it’s because people who are against hunting are more than likely to work, in one form or another, for the rights that animals should have…you should see the disgusting things being done to animals on a daily basis…it makes me sick, as it does others…you get to a point where you cannot…CANNOT…stand seeing the pain and suffering inflicted on animals…and then things are said that probably shouldn’t be said…but hunters do the exact same thing, so don’t try to be righteous…if you should reply to me again, let’s try and be civil and not call names…

  10. I believe Gavin should send a photo of his white deer to Bass Pro Shop or Cabela’s. They might have a really good interest in what to do with it so all could enjoy viewing his trophy!

  11. Sorry to see he decided to kill this animal. I can think of other ways to have a great acheivements in life without killing this beautiful animal.

    1. Experienced hunters know no matter what buck you shoot, someone will have negative feedback. Congratulations on a nice buck.

  12. Congrats son on being able to hunt with your dad, enjoy the outdoors, and harvest a trophy in many different ways. Food, trophy, and family memories. There will always be critics. Press on in your hunting and time with your family. Life is good.

  13. If there is no law against it (as is in Illinois), then you should enjoy the hard and difficult challenge one takes in harvesting a deer. If they have an issue with it, then let them come up with the funds to purchase the deer from you and have it mounted in a museum (bet they crawl ifsh when that comes up)

  14. Why is a DEER called a UNICORN???!!! I’m not a hunter, so I don’t understand. I thought unicorn means, 1 horn, last time I checked that’s not a deer? Will someone please explain this to me? Nicely?

    1. Mandy- it was an analogy. Not a ‘unicorn’ in the strict sense, but an animal that is- as mentioned several times- one with a genetic defect that does happen occasionally (even with us). The unicorn analogy meaning a ‘rare’/ near extinct (or mythical) creature.

  15. You do not kill animals for trophy kills! For food yes! And why kill an albino deer? Like really? They deserve all of whats coming to them. Karmas a bit*h why kill a rare animal? Stupid people!


    1. Well there you go Marcy, you are a Vegetarian so we do not expect you to understand! When we hunt we kill for food, food that is pure as it can be without all of the man made chemicals shot into it to make it grow faster and better. I do not trophy hunt nor do I hunt with anyone who trophy hunts. We all have our favorite stories about hunting that we carry through life just like anyone else. If you want to believe this kid is messed up then so be it but killing for food is not messed up!

  17. I’m not against hunting in the least. I live in New York where like many other places the deer population is enormous and you see them killed in the side of the road. Hunting is a necessity to jeep the deer population under control and it allows bonding between parents abs their children and more importantly puts food on the table. In fact, I want my husband to take my boys out hunting when they are of legal age and have taken a gun safety course. My ex doesn’t hunt, but lives venison and us not against it, therefore I thought it was a good bonding thing between my sons and their step dad. My husband has hunted several times and I was even impressed when he shared the same views as I do on this story. Here they are I have recently read that there have been ridiculous people making death threats towards this child and I don’t agree with that one bit, for those people I say grow up and act like an adult. However, I believe this child should have left that Albino deer alone as there are many other deer out there that could have had it’s life taken to provide good venison for this family. I’m sick of people killing these rarities and then gloating and sporting about it. The way the father spoke he made it seem like it was all about who could get the Albino deer. That is wrong!!! It is this same sick mentality that goes on an African safari and has their picture taken after killing a wild and exotic animal an elephant, lion or zebra. This kid will grow up not appreciating anything in wildlife because of his father’s attitude towards this hunt and that is what people have an issue with. The hunting of Albino deer used to be illegal in Michigan up until 2009 and it still is in several other states. Why do you think that is? Because they’re rare and the states are trying to keep them protected and I say “way to go” to the states that implement these laws. But to this father and son, I shake my head in disgrace and say “you couldn’t wait, you knew the deer frequented the area and you didn’t give this poor deer a fair chance, there are Manu other deer that you could have hunted, but instead you chose the rare one, why? Just because your sons name could be known everywhere for killing something so beautiful that should have been left alone, I don’t say great job, I say make better choices the next time.”

    1. this is for people like you marcy who mention gods creatures in there comments. Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and
      increase in number and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will
      fall upon all of the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air,
      upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish
      of the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and
      moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, now I
      give you everything.” Genesis 9:1-3 so god has giving us the right to do so with respect for the animal. so if you want to mention god in your comments read the bible first.

      dave j canada

  18. Albinism is a Genetic Defect, its best to shoot them. there pretty to look at, but they’re not good for the hurd. google it!

  19. I doubt this kid and his dad had the genetic interests of the herd in mind. It’s a trophy. Hunting nowadays is more of a sport than a means of providing for one’s sustenance or “harvesting.” That’s a stupid euphemism – you “harvest” vegetables, not animals. I’ve heard of shooting and processing, but “harvesting” is ridiculous. Anyway, enjoying hunting is not the worst thing. I can’t believe they’ve received threats – that’s ridiculous too. As far as an albino, I would think it would be more revered and left alone – maybe that’s what Native Americans would have thought. If you have the genetic interests of the herd in mind, why do you go after the biggest bucks? Shouldn’t they be left to live on to spread their stronger seed? That’s what happens in nature. The young, the sick, the weak, and yes probably the albinos, get it. Not the big 11 point mothers that you’d like to stick on your wall.

  20. What I don’t understand is how killing something, an animal that’s not an immediate threat to you or your family, can be pleasurable. You want sport? Go out with your bare hands and fight a mountain lion, or even a buck. NOW it’s fair.

  21. congratulations Gaven buck of a lifetime don’t let them non hinters get you down good luck to you and your dad on many more hunts

  22. Look, Its great that you killed a deer. I still havent. Killing a deer isn’t for fun and im sure you saved the meet and did. It’s a beautiful creature and I for one would not have shot it. You did have a unfair advantage considering its albino and you could see it easier in the fall then normal deer. I think killing of albinos should be illegal. Good job though. I wouldn’t have the heart to kill a normal deer.

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