Brooke Bateman will certainly never forget her first buck.
The 14-year-old Dallas native scored a once-in-a-lifetime trophy on Nov. 21, bagging a black buck, which is much rarer than the typical whitetail, The Dallas News reported.
The buck was so dark that Mike Bateman, Brooke’s father, initially identified it as an Angus calf. Even after realizing it was deer, the father-daughter hunters debated whether they should shoot.
The black, or melanistic, buck was a six-pointer. The Stephens County lease, where Mike Bateman is a member and the two were hunting, has a rule that bucks have to be eight-point or bigger.
Facing the dilemma, Mike Bateman called fellow lease hunter Pat Birdwell, who was also hunting that afternoon. They talked it over and decided the opportunity was too rare to pass. Brooke’s shot was clear from 120 yards.
“It was nerve-racking, but I knew I could do it,” Brooke said. At first I was so excited that I couldn’t pull the trigger. Dad helped me calm down with deep breaths. I found the deer in the scope again, took a deep breath and shot. The deer fell over backwards. It was awesome. I love hunting with my dad.”
The black whitetail drew a crowd at the locker plant in Breckinridge. No one, including the game warden and ranch biologist, had seen such a deer, which are fairly common in some hot spots, including the Lakeway subdivision in Austin. The American epicenter is in nine Texas counties in the Austin-San Antonio area.
The black coloring is caused by an overabundance of melanin. Other color variations in whitetails are white and piebald. Piebald deer have large white sports. Some white deer are albinos, but that’s not always the case. It’s estimated that one deer in every 30,000 are albino.
Melanistic deer are much rarer. They’ve been documented in 29 states and reported in 44 Texas counties, but a study by John T. Baccus and John C. Posey pinpointed the area in central Texas where melanistic deer are most common. Both researchers were at Texas State in San Marcos at the time of the study, but Baccus is now at Texas Tech.
Fewer than five melanistic deer are harvested in a typical U.S. autumn, and of the average 600,000 whitetails bagged each season in Texas, one or none are melanistic.