Black Magic

Melanistic (black) deer are even rarer than albino deer. Even more rare are 10-point, 4 1/2-year old melanistic bucks -- exactly what Virginia bowhunter Mike Kaczor bagged this year in Iowa. No official records are kept on melanistic deer, but Kaczor's buck is most likely the largest black whitetail ever killed by a bowhunter.

So rare are melanistic whitetails that scientific literature reports only that the coloration exists, but gives no numbers regarding its prevalence. Melanism results from an overproduction of a pigment called melanin. With over six million deer taken each year in North America, only a handful show this coloration. For whatever reason, most of these come from an eight-county region in central Texas.

Mike Kaczor was hunting in Iowa when he first got word of some dark-colored deer there, but he gave it little thought. Then, about 10:30 a.m. on the first day of his two-week hunt, he heard a noise in a creek bottom and saw a deer emerge as it visited a scrape and then a rub tree.

Man, that deer is dark, Kaczor thought. His arrow covered the 14 yards in an instant, passing through the buck's chest. After waiting 45 minutes, Kaczor followed the blood trail across two oxbows along the creek bottom. As he crested the second oxbow, no more than 100 yards from his stand, he found his prize.

In case you're wondering, Kaczor is getting a full-body mount of his piece of history -- a deer he now calls Black Magic!

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