Port Henry's Dwayne Maye wasn't quite sure what to make of the goat-like creature bounding away from him Nov. 22 on land his hunting crew leases off Mc Conley Road in Mineville.
But it didn't remain a mystery for long.
Moments later his hunting chum Ethan Snyder dropped the nearly all white deer with a single well placed shot.
The crew was amazed to see the stumpy 88-pound three-pointer on the ground - and the deer garnered even more attention as it was weighed-in at a handful of local buck contests.
While the unique buck was nearly all white in color - It did have a dark patch of brown hair on its head, and it lacked the pink eyes and nose needed to classify it a true "albino."
Instead, the deer is considered to be a so-called "piebald" deer, a condition that occurs more commonly than albinos but nevertheless is rare, according to information provided by the DEC.
In addition to the coloration deficiency, many piebald deer have skeletal deformities such as short legs, bowing of the nasal bone, arching of the back bone and heart defects.
Many of those characteristics can be seen in Ethan's buck - making it little wonder that Dwayne thought his eyes were playing tricks on him.
"Dwayne wasn't sure if it was a goat or what," said Dwayne's brother John "Boonie" Maye. "Ethan had seen a white deer up there before, but no one ever thinks they are going to have one in a drive."
The piebald condition is caused by a genetic defect that occurs in less than 1 percent of the deer population. It is characterized by brown and white spots, similar to a pinto horse.
Some deer, like Ethan's, are nearly all white.
In comparison, albinism is the condition where an animal has no pigmentation at all.
A true albino can be told from a totally white pie-bald deer, because its eyes will be pink. This is because - with no pigmentation - the eye color comes from the blood vessels in and behind the eye.
In wild populations approximately 1 in 50,000 whitetail deer are born albinos. Given the population in New York of about 1 million animals, that would mean only about 20 albinos exist in the wild.
At a frequency of less than 1 percent of the herd, piebald deer makeup about 9,000 or 10,000 animals of the 1 million deer in New York State.
"DEC receives reports of one or two piebald deer being taken by hunters in the Adirondacks each year," DEC spokesman Dave Winchell said.
John Gereau is managing editor of Denton Publications and an avid outdoorsman. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.