An 11-year-old Michigan hunter last week killed a rare albino deer while on a hunting trip with his father.
This week, the story is generating a wide range of emotional feedback on Facebook.
Gavin’s father, Mick Dingman, told Livingston Daily that he and his son had spotted the white deer several times in recent years, and that other hunters had talked about trying to bag the animal.
An admittedly nervous Gavin used a crossbow from 30 yards to harvest the 12-point trophy buck, and the news quickly spread in hunting circles.
“He kind of feels like a rock star right now," Mick Dingman said. "Everyone is calling, all of the hunting shows and hunting magazines."
Sentiments being expressed on the WZZM 13 Facebook page , where the albino deer story has been shared more than 4,000 times, are somewhat mixed. (WZZM 13 is a Livingston Daily partner.)
"He should have let it live. There are plenty of others out there," reads one of hundreds of comments.
"If it's rare, why the hell would he kill it?” reads another.
"I'm fine with hunting, just hate the 'Hey look, it's different, let's shoot it' ideas. Shoot it with a camera and let the unique one live," reads yet another.
Deer-hunting in Michigan is an extremely popular pastime, so it’s not surprising that so many wrote in defense of Gavin Dingman.
"Get over it. The law says it's legal. Back off the kid!!! Way to go kiddo!!" reads one comment.
"He paid good money for his license. He can use it for anything HE chooses, ” reads another. “Whether it be a brown deer or an albino buck, the state of Michigan gave him permission to kill it. Leave the kid alone. He did nothing wrong. He harvested a great trophy."
Some of the commenters criticized WZZM 13 for posting the story on Facebook, opening Gavin to criticism.
"WZZM should stick with reporting news, not trying to make an 11-year-old boy feel guilty for shooting a deer, during deer season," reads one comment.
Albino deer and leucistic deer (not a true albino) possess genetic defects that cause the white pigmentation.
Some native cultures revere the white animals, and believe that they possess the spirits of ancestors.
This story brings to mind the killing last October of a rare albino "spirit moose" in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Three hunters involved in that expedition were harshly criticized on social media sites, and ultimately issued a formal apology to the Mi'kmaq people.
It's unclear whether any native groups have spoken out against Gavin Dingman’s killing of the white deer in Michigan.
The boy’s description of his big moment: "My dad was just like, 'Take a deep breath. Are you sure you can take the shot? If you're not 100 percent, we don't want to injure it.' "
The family plans to pay a taxidermist to create a full body mount of the deer.
WZZM 13 cites a report that claims that one out of 20,000 deer are born albino.
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