More On Melanistic Deer

On August 4, 2009 I posted a story, “[What Is A Melanistic Deer]” with pictures of a melanistic doe that my Son, Randy, “shot” while on his afternoon run. Randy, is a Baptist Pastor in San Marcos, Texas and just sent me these two pictures of a nice, melanistic, buck.

Melanistic deer are so named because their bodies produce far too much of the hair, skin and retina pigment known as melanin. They are very rare, but for reasons not well understood by zoologists, the eastern edge of Texas’ Edwards Plateau and the adjacent areas of the Blackland Prairie region are the epicenter of the world’s population of melanistic, white-tailed deer.

In reviewing all of the scientific literature, Dr. John T. Baccus and John C. Posey of Texas State University in San Marcos, who are the world’s authorities on melanistic deer having observed them in the flesh, have been unable to find any record of “dark” deer being documented anywhere prior to 1929. None of the research done to date suggests that melanistic bucks have inferior antlers. The velvet on their racks tends to be brownish, but the Texas State researchers say that they have seen one melanistic buck with gray velvet. Randy, who lives not three miles as the crow flies from Texas State, should send his pictures to these men also.

There are now more melanistic deer alive in Central Texas than in every other part of the planet combined. Melanism is actually fairly common in all or parts of eight counties in Texas; Hays, Travis, Comal, Williamson, Blanco, Guadalupe, Burnet and Caldwell.

Mills County, located on the northeast edge of the Edwards Plateau, where we just spotted a melanistic deer pictured above, is just one county removed from Burnet and Williamson County.