When Terrence Burke took a 100-yard shot at a nice buck earlier this month, he recognized the 8-pointer from several trail cam pics he had reviewed this season.
But when he actually recovered the deer on his lease in Ouachita Parish on the morning of Nov. 6, the buck had one final surprise for the 40-year-old general contractor from West Monroe.
“It looked like he had ankle socks on,” Burke said with a laugh. “There were no other discolorations or imperfections on his hide or anything — just solid white on his back feet.
“I’ve got numerous pictures of him, but you couldn’t tell anything about the feet. The front hooves are just as black as could be.”
After reviewing a picture of the buck and consulting with the state veterinarian’s office, Scott Durham, a biologist director with the Wildlife Division for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said the deer’s unusual coloration was likely the result of a rare genetic trait that affects less than 1 percent of all deer.
“We think those white hooves would be part of a piebald variation that you see,” said Durham, who acknowledged he’d never seen only a deer’s hooves be affected. “It can be in the legs, so that pigment just ran down into that keratin.
“But I’ve never seen one in just the hooves — that’s the first I’ve ever seen of that.”
Piebald deer are typically colored white and brown similar to a pinto pony. Last year on the same lease, Burke said he shot a nice 8-point with a double throat patch, but passed on putting the deer up on his wall — a decision he now regrets.
“I started researching it, and it happens more in older deer from what I’ve read,” Burke said. “I was like, ‘Dang, I wish I would have gotten that one mounted.’
“It probably won’t ever happen again.”
So he’s not making the same mistake twice — the unusual white hooves will go up on the wall with the 2½-year-old deer’s rack on a leather-wrapped skull plate.
“My taxidermist is sending them to a guy to have them freeze dried, and he’s going to mount them on the same board he puts the antlers on,” he said.
For Burke, the only downside to taking the white-hooved deer so far is where he was when he shot it.
“I was in my wife’s stand,” he said with a chuckle. “I had to contend with her. I’ve been banned from hunting her stand for the rest of the year.”