Alabama Bowhunter Gets a Surprise

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Craig Bradford was hunting on Halloween morning in Jackson County, Alabama. Just after daybreak he saw a deer come through the woods, pulled back his bow, and shot it. He thought it was a black doe, which is a melanistic whitetail deer with all black fur.

Melanism is rare in whitetails and results in animals with coats that are often jet black. Cases of semi-melanism also exist in nature where the animal will have lighter patches of fur, said Chris Cook, the state's deer study leader.

Wildlife biologists told Bradford that his deer was one of the rare melanistic whitetail does. Bradford was excited about that possibility, however after closer inspection, it is believed to be a Sika stag. Maryland has a wild population of Sika stags, but how the deer ended up in Alabama is a mystery. There are no facilities around that would have been home to the deer. Sikas are native to some Asian countries.

Bradford is considering having a full body mount done of the Sika. "I was just curious what it was," he said. "I won't ever forget it anyway. It's not every day something like that comes walking through the woods." From


hunter25's picture

This is a very interesting

This is a very interesting story and I'm not sure how I even think about it. I don't believe it's a melanistic whitetail as I've seen pictures of them before and they look like any other deer. I can go along with the sika deer part but have to wonder how it got there for him to shoot. I suppose it's possible that it wandered all the way there like some of teh other animals we have seen recently reported on but that doesn't seem likely either. I believe these deer are pretty specific about the type of land they like to live in and this one would have have to traveled through a lot he didn't like. I would most likely leen toward an escaped animal or maybe even released than anything else. i guess I would consider a shoulder mount on it due to the mystery and uniqueness of it but a whole body is just too much money for me. If more are found it will be really interesting though, maybe somebody got an illegal herd started or something. Pretty cool any way you look at it though.

GooseHunter Jr's picture

That is a pretty interesting

That is a pretty interesting story and congrats to the lucky hunter.  Should make for a nice addition to the wall and make one heck of a conversation piece.  My one question would be do "black does" always have some sort of antlers??

groovy mike's picture

unusual indeed

That is an unusual deer in the wild for sure.  It is definitely something to wonder about - how the heck did it get there?  How long had it been there? Are there more of them?  In any case, congratulations to the hunter - he surely does have a special memory and a conversation piece.  That would be like shooting a Cape Buffalo in the midwest! They just don't belong there!  Thanks for posting the story and the photograph.

Ca_Vermonster's picture

Wow, very cool, and very

Wow, very cool, and very rare.  I would have believed the melanistic deer, because I know there is actually a localized population of deer with that trait over in texas.  That's alot closer than Maryland, where the Sika deer reside.  I have seen some of the photos from the Sika deer, and they are pretty cool.

Looking at the antler structure, the way the pedastles (sp?) come way up from the skull, it does not look like a normal whitetail deer.  The forehead seems too elongated.

As Retired said, it's pretty cool either way.  I would love to have a chance at a deer like that.  Both would look good on the wall, and that's probably one of the few times I would consider doing a full mount of a spike.  Definately a welcome surprise for that bowhunter!

Retired2hunt's picture

  Whether a malanistic


Whether a malanistic whitetail or a Sika deer this is still a very very unique harvest and a great opportunity for the hunter to get his animal mounted to represent this hunt.  Congrats to the hunter and his harvest.  Hopefully more of these animals can be found, managed, and harvested in the future.


niceshot_smitty's picture

this is very odd story.  to

this is very odd story.  to kill a sika stag out of place would really have me wondering.  I know they have them in the wild up in Maryland, and on ranchs in Florida and Texas but to find them in Alabama.  I would really be looking out for more of them or who let it go or how it got there.  I have read alot about Sika deer and they are pretty cool little deer.  I don't know what i would do if i found one in the wild if i new they were not native to where i was hunting.  i hope to hear more about this.  I will be sending a email to a friend i have in Alabama to see if he has hear anything.

Alabama Bowhunter

Very interesting read about the Sika Deer.