January 28, 2014
Upon learning of Chris Brackett’s great fortunes on a hunt for a “unicorn,” Ted Nugent said he was truly gifted in the spirit of the wild. Brackett equated his luck to hitting the lottery three times in a row.
The host of Fear No Evil and Arrow Affliction on Outdoor Channel first was lucky to draw a tag to hunt on the former Seneca Army Depot in New York. He then was astounded that his name was selected to hunt a white deer. Topping it off was that a white deer with more than three points on both antlers even came into range.
“They talk about the white buffalo,” Brackett said, “and Uncle Ted, he just freaked out. He said, “You are truly blessed. That’s the ultimate white buffalo. You are so gifted in the spirit of the wild.’ ”
Chipcity Spaulding, Brackett’s right-hand man, might be thrilled now that he’s producing the show on Brackett’s white deer hunt, but jealousy was his first reaction.
Click the image to photos of Chris Brackett’s white deer hunt
How Brackett even got to hunt on the 10,587-acre former U.S. army munitions storage and disposal facility was pure happenstance. He did an appearance at a nearby archery shop and met someone who had applied for the special hunt and could take a guest.
“Chipcity kept telling me about this place -- the army depot where they had all these spoil banks and kept all this World War II, Cold War stuff,” Brackett said. “He said, ‘If you get to hunt there, I’m never talking to you again.’ He’s wanted to hunt there since he was a little kid.”
The cold shoulder began when Brackett got the call that he received a one-day hunt on Nov. 16. But there would be no cameras; the hunt was to be about the Wounded Warriors.
Bracket drove the 12 hours from Peoria, Ill., and met with the general of the military personnel there. “He’s a huge fan of our show and loves the Outdoor Channel,” Brackett said.
The depot, which was closed by the army in 2000 except for a small area, supports the largest herd of white deer in the world. When the 24-mile fence was erected in 1941, several white deer were enclosed. A white buck and fawn were first spotted in 1949, and the depot commander then forbade GIs from shooting white deer.
Safe from predator and hunters, the leucistic deer, meaning they lack pigmentation in their hair, inbred and their percentage in the herd rose. There are now around 200 white deer among the 800-head herd. White deer believed to be from Seneca have been spotted as far as 60 miles away.
“Everybody thinks it’s all fenced. It’s fenced to people, guarded to people, but the deer can go in and out,” Brackett said.
The senecawhitedeer.org is working to preserve the unique wildlife as well as the military history of the facility. The non-profit has nothing to do with the hunts, which are administered by the army and restricted to military personnel and the occasional guest, like Brackett.“They draw one person for an opportunity to shoot one of the white bucks – they drew my name first,” Brackett said. “So I won the lottery twice in a row.”
White deer with decent racks are few and far between. Brackett said because of their poor genetics, most are big forkhorns, even when they’re eight years old. If he was to take a white deer, it had to have three points on both antlers.
“So I’m sitting on this big giant bunker they store all these weapons in from the last 60 years,” he said.
“I’ve sat all day long and see all these great deer but I’m waiting for that unicorn.
“All of the sudden, here comes this big, white deer. I look in my scope and there is this beautiful 10-point buck coming down through the woods. He’s like 130 inches. Something out of a dream.”
Brackett made the 130-yard shot through brush with a slug gun to kill what he’s told was the biggest white deer taken there.
Click the image to photos of albino deer
Since then Brackett has heard many thoughts about white deer, like how Indian legend holds them as sacred with special powers. Others look at white deer and albinos as an omen, that bad luck will come to those who harm them.
Some states have even made shooting white deer illegal. Biologists counter, saying such restrictions are not logical as protecting them and allowing them to breed can weaken the overall health of the herd.
“A lot of people say, ‘I wouldn’t shoot that.’ It’s a once in a lifetime chance!” Brackett said. “I’m a hunter first off. I’m a trophy hunter. It’s about taking a mature animal, taking something unique.”
The trophy will received a full body mount, and Brackett said it could debut in the Outdoor Channel booth at the NRA Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, Pa., Feb. 1-9.
“It’s going to be taken around and shown to kids and people to help educate them,” Brackett said. “That deer gets to be famous forever. Just educate and inspire people. These things created by God are just awesome.”
While the actual hunt wasn’t filmed, the aftermath of the white deer was and will be featured on his show. Expect to see how it was cared for and what it means to his Fear No Evil team.
“It’s the only time I’ve hunted without a camera in the last 8 years,” Brackett said. “I get to remember it forever, along with meeting the General and all the Wounded Warriors that keep me free to even be able to hunt.”
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