An 11-year-old boy who shot a 12-point albino buck with a crossbow while hunting with his father did nothing wrong, Michigan officials say.
Gavin Dingman of Oceola Township legally shot the albino deer last week, Department of Natural Resources deer program specialist Brent Rudolph told the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus Thursday. The hunt drew widespread attention online after the newspaper's initial report Sunday, including comments criticizing the kill. Others congratulated Dingman on his rare prize.
"I was surprised mainly by the personal attacks on an 11-year-old kid they have no association with. When you look at his picture, he looks like the sweetest kid," said Jordan Browne, a host on Michigan Out-of-Doors Television.
The DNR has seen the incident as an "opportunity for public dialogue," according to Rudolph.
Albino and all-white deer have been legal to hunt in Michigan since 2008, when the state lifted protections for the animals, Rudolph said. The previous restrictions were confusing for hunters, he said, because it's hard to determine the difference between albino, all-white or piebald deer, which are white with brown spots, from far away.
"We recognize there is an intense public interest in albino deer, as they do stand out quite a bit," Rudolph said. "There is no biological reason to protect the genetic trait that causes a deer to be all-white or albino."
The boy's father, Mick Dingman, said his son felt like a "rock star" after shooting the deer that so many locals had been trying to capture. The family plans to enlist a taxidermist to create a full-body mount of the animal.