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Our Encounter with an Albino Stag

And its potential spiritual meaning

By Jason HauserPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 5 min read
Image captured January 1st, 2022, Oconeechee Park, Virginia

We were hiking at Oconeechee Park, Virginia, on New Year's Day, 2022. The weather was mild, a few clouds, but otherwise a perfect day to stroll in the woods. We had a white husky tagging along, little more than a puppy at a year old, and she galloped down the trail or out in the woods at full speed.


About an hour into the hike we spotted Blanca off in the distance chasing a deer. A few seconds later we realized it was an albino deer. Very rare. A big one too. The deer didn't want anything to do with the dog, but Blanca - as is her nature - wanted to hunt and play mercilessly, so she kept the pressure up. We watched them zig and zag through the thick trees, two white animals, bounding first one way then another as the deer desperately sought escape - and then they abruptly charged our direction.

They'd been too far away previously to bother taking a picture, but this had taken an interesting turn, so I fumbled with my phone, trying to unlock it, but under increasing pressure from a 10-point buck barreling closer, its rack down. The deer barely looked where it was going; it ran blindly in sheer terror, and that trajectory was about to trample us.

"Behind the tree!" I hissed. We scampered back, heart rates accelerating, adrenaline kicking in. Thirty feet...twenty feet...ten feet - I still couldn't get the damn code unlocked, but my friend had his phone out and he took two quick snaps, hence the zoomed and cropped image of the stag shown above (sorry for the low resolution, but it was taken under duress; if only the stag had paused to pose!).

At the last second it must have heard us; three horrible humans clustered near a tree. The stag did an abrupt ninety degree turn, slipped and skidded, kicking up leaves and bounded away. Blanca gleefully followed. For her this was all one big game. We collectively sighed in relief, glad to not have been run over or impaled by a desperate deer. We kept walking, hoping to catch sight of the deer again and get a better picture, but he was gone. Blanca eventually wandered back to our pack and we returned to the parking lot, talking endlessly about what we had just experienced.

Oddly enough, that wasn't the first albino deer I had ever seen, but the second. The first was in Chapel Hill around 2001. Wintertime also, and while driving home from work I passed a small cemetery. It was snowing lightly that day, but in the middle of the cemetery stood a white deer with pink eyes, snowflakes gusting around it. Very surreal, and in the middle of city limits beside a busy road. That would have been a good photo op too, but it didn't happen.

So, back to 2022. Because we all have smart phones, we start looking up the odds of actually seeing an albino deer.

Turns out the odds are around 1 in 30,000. While rare, there are actually two reasons for a deer to be white, and they're slightly different. Albinism is a congenital trait defined as absence of pigment in the skin. It can happen in humans and other animals too, and under most conditions makes a creature particularly vulnerable because it cannot hide as well. They also have poor eyesight, which also explains why the thing nearly bowled through us. We narrowly missed a catastrophe, all because of an overzealous husky.

By Kelli VanDenBerg on Unsplash

A leucitic animal (also known as piebald) lack pigment over all or part of their body, their eyesight is not affected, and they generally have a better chance of survival than their albino brethren. Wildlife photographer and deer expert Leonard Lee Rue III noted in his book Whitetail Savvy, “Many piebald deer also exhibit hunched backs, bowed legs, and short, rounded noses.”

So, following the rarity of actually seeing an albino deer, we looked into how the Native Americas viewed them. Here's what we found.

They believed that sighting a white animal was a prophecy – a sign from spirit of a significant shift in the world about to come. White animals were usually seen during vision-quests, but if one was spotted during a normal day (such as our experience), this would cause tremendous excitement in the tribe. They would call a meeting, consult the elders, and try to communicate with the animal spirits to discern their hidden message.

The significance of a white stag has many connotations, including but not limited to: higher thoughts, higher ideals , purity of soul , attaining higher knowledge , benevolence , kindness , spirituality, longevity, virility and endurance.

This powerful sign can be a message that one is on a path of growth that can lead you in exciting new directions. The message of the white deer means “get ready.”

So, was our encounter a catalyst for some fantastic new revelation in 2022? After all, it happened on the New Years Day! The timing couldn't have been better. It was food for thought, and we mused over what we had learned for days, if not weeks. We also wondered how the deer hadn't been shot by hunters. In some circles, it is considered bad luck to kill an albino animal. While probably just pure superstition with no actual evidence, it still persists among many hunters. That is perhaps how the buck lived to such a ripe age; or, it was just elusive as hell.

I don't know about the spiritual significance or the curse. In the five n months since our encounter I haven't seen a significant change in my life. And I've been looking! The year isn't done yet though, so perhaps the spirit-soul of that grand beast has yet to work its magic.

I'll be waiting, and if by some miracle I see a third albino buck soon this year, that will make me a believer.

Author's Notes: Thanks for reading! This was a true story that recently happened, and I was lucky to have one photo to share on a site that includes media. If you enjoyed it, please heart and subscribe and check out my other stories which are a mix of fiction, longform poetry and articles.


About the Creator

Jason Hauser

I am a writer, artist and poet from North Carolina. I recently self published a children's/YA book called Harold and the Dreadful Dreams. You can learn more about it at my blog, as well as other projects.

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