Piebald deer a unique breed

Jacob Hundt of Michigan City holds a rare piebald whitetail buck sporting an eight-point rack. 

Patience and a piebald deer.

"I'd been watching this buck on our property for a month," local hunter Jacob Hundt said. "I was able to get him on my first sit of the (archery) season on October 12 - eight pointer at 2:15 in the afternoon."

Piebalds are very unique, a product of genetic abnormality resulting in large blotches or patterns of white on the otherwise brownish coat of a whitetail.

How rare is difficult to pin down. I've only heard of one other shot in La Porte County along with a smattering of sightings over many decades of paying attention to deer things around here. An Internet search put them at one in 20,000 to one in 100,000.

Perhaps rarer than the handsome, eight-point piebald is Hundt's ability to stay the course. He waited nearly nine hours in a tree stand for the deer to present a fair shot.

"I probably got out there around 5:30 (a.m.)," Hundt said. "By 9 a.m. I hadn't seen any deer and was thinking about leaving when I leaned forward and saw him bedded down 30 yards away."

Whoa. Imagine the thrill of seeing the deer of a lifetime resting in sight. Then the anxiousness — and intensity — of watching him for an additional five hours.

"Well, he got up on three occasions," Hundt said. "He'd move around, eat a little bit - once he disappeared for a while before I saw him directly under my stand."

Yes, it's easy to lose track of a deer — even one with a half-white body — in the thick understory of the early-October woods.

Finally, the 22-year old Hundt had a 15-yard shot and his aim was true.

"I've taken several other bucks with shotgun, but this is my first archery buck," Hundt said. "I'd been practicing hard all summer with an Athens' Summit (bow)."

Hundt will get a full-body mount of the gorgeous animal.

"I called Shawn Hardesty, a friend who used to help at Elkin's Taxidermy (in New Carlisle) to make sure I field-dressed it right, than he finished skinning it," Hundt said. "Now I have some saving up to do."

Cost is $2,500 to $3,000, but Hundt will have a striking mount to go along with an equally stirring story.

Indiana's deer archery season, which opened statewide Oct. 1, continues through Jan. 5. Deer firearms season is Nov. 16-Dec. 1.

Other hunting seasons include turkey-archery through Oct. 27 before reopening Dec. 7-Jan. 5. Turkey firearm season is Oct. 16-27. Small-game (rabbit, pheasant, quail) opens Nov. 1. Canada geese (North Zone) closes Nov. 3 before reopening Nov. 23-Feb. 9. Duck (North Zone) continues through Dec. 8, then again Dec. 21-29.

Record 'Smallie'

The Illinois record smallmouth bass was set on Oct. 14 when Joe Capilupo pulled a seven-pound, three-ounce brute out of Montrose Harbor in Chicago. The veteran bass angler reportedly caught it on a California Craw pattern Ned rig. The huge 'smallie' was caught 10 minutes before the park closed at 11 p.m.

The fish was certified at Henry's Bait and held in a baitfish tank at the shop to recuperate before being released back into Lake Michigan.

The Indiana state record smallmouth is seven pounds, four ounces.

The biggest takeaway for me, other than a tip of the cap to Capilupo for keeping the fish alive, is he caught it at night. While lots of large largemouth get caught in the dark around here and night fishing is fairly popular on the inland lakes, not so much for smallies on the big lake. That's something to make me go, hmmm.

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