, Port Arthur, Texas


July 27, 2013

Chester Moore column: Albino whitetail buck amazes

PORT ARTHUR —  Ken Swenson of Swenson Whiteail Ranch in Orangefield has one of the most amazing deer I have ever seen.

    It is a year-old albino buck named “Rusty” that is working on an impressive non-typical set of antlers. Over the years I have heard of hunters seeing “ghost bucks” or white deer they could not explain in the field and to get to look closely at one is exciting for someone who enjoys anomalies as much as I do.

    There are several key explanations for potential white deer seen in the field in Texas.

     On rare occasion, an albino whitetail will make it to adulthood in the wild and they are a remarkable sight. Albino whitetails are a rarity but they do exist and in my opinion, they would be the least likely source of sightings.

    Think of a piebald as an animal with partial albinism or simply lack of pigment in certain areas instead of all over the body. Over the years, there have been a number of piebald whitetails harvested. We ran a photo of one in the “Critter Cam” from Orange County a few months ago.

Piebalds are also called “calico deer” and seem to be most commonly killed in the Pineywoods region of the state but they could turn up anywhere.

    A high possibility for many “ghost deer” sightings in Texas is the fallow deer. Fallows come in spotted, chocolate and white varieties and there are tens of thousands of them out there.

    Fallow deer come from Europe and Asia and adapted to the Texas Hill Country perfectly and there are many free-ranging specimens in Kerr, Bandera, Media and Uvalde Counties in particular. They also do well on high fenced properties in other parts of the state and often escape.

A white fallow doe spotted at a distance is virtually impossible to distinguish from a white whitetail. In fact, there was one road-killed a few miles from my home, five years ago and I had a hard time convincing people it was not a whitetail.

    Fallow bucks have huge palmated antlers when mature but young bucks can have racks similar to whitetails especially when viewed at a distance. This is my number one candidate on the “ghost deer” list.

    There is a variety of exotics that could potentially explain “ghost deer” sightings. As silly as it may seem a white nanny goat spotted moving at a distance could easily fool a hunter as could young scimitar-horned oryx or various species of antelope.

    There is something exciting about encountering an anomaly in the wild. Seeing a deer is one thing but spotting a genetic rarity or even an escaped exotic is unexpected but always welcome.

    Texas is a land of surprises so stay alert in the field, keep your eyes fixed on the edge of the wood line and you might get a glimpse of one of these mysterious ghost deer.

(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at


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  • Bassmaster Elites are coming back

    The Bassmaster Elite Series returns to Southeast Texas in March 2015 to fish out of Orange.
    The announcement was made last week, ahead of Bassmaster’s official tournament schedule announcement and the buzz is already strong in Southeast Texas and beyond.
    I was in Orlando, Fla. attending the ICAST (fishing trade) show and talked with a number of top anglers including Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli and Shaw Grigsby who said it was no surprise they would return considering the massive turnout for the weigh-ins and that the area welcomed them in a very special way.
    It’s far too early to speculate anything like who the top contenders will be or how the fishing will be but there are some things to keep in mind and to look for over the next few months and into the event itself.
    • Prefishing-There is a pre-fishing cutoff that usually extends to right before the Bassmaster Classic and I fully expect most of the anglers in the Elites to come back and prefish.
    Last go-round probably 2/3 of the field fished the area but this time I expect that to be just about everyone. Many of the anglers that did not pre-fish told me they expected to have a lot of water to fish but the sheer volume and diversity was almost overwhelming.
    Beginning probably in the early fall we will see many anglers fishing local waters to get a better idea on how to approach the area.
    • East to West Runs-The Elite anglers fished far and wide but I expect even more running next go-round. After launching from the Simmons Drive Boat Ramp in Orange angler Bill Lowen ran down the Intracoastal, across Galveston Bay and fished in the Clear Lake area and placed in the top 12. The more adventurous anglers will try super long runs, in my opinion, even longer than last time to try and score on big fish. The Intracoastal Canal system makes that possible.
    • Sabine River -Very few of the anglers actually fished in the Sabine River despite the event being called the “Sabine River Challenge”. I think that will change with more anglers running as far north as they can to find pockets of fish that receive little pressure and perhaps a four or five-pounder to push them over the top.
    • Bigger Turnout-Last year some 34,000 people attended the event which set a Bassmaster record for an Elite event.
     It was broken a couple of weeks later in New York but I fully expect the 2015 tournament to draw 40,000 plus. The reason they are coming back is not for the stellar fishing because while we have lots of bass, everyone knows our fishery cannot compare to Toledo Bend for example.
    The support from the public however was amazing and that is what is bringing the top anglers on the planet to fish our area.
    We will have the very best coverage of the event beginning now and leading up to it with exclusive interviews with all of the top pros with not only their thoughts on the big event but with unique tips on how you can catch more fish.
    It’s an exciting time and I look forward to bringing you special coverage on a special event.
    (To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on

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From the Fieldhouse blog