SHARON, Vt. (WCAX) A Sharon woman has become an overnight local legend after shooting an extremely rare, partially white deer called a piebald.
"I didn't realize how important it was until I shot it, I guess," said Jen Ward.
"We called him ghost cause he was able to elude everybody," said Triston Potter, Ward's boyfriend.
He says he knows exactly what she's accomplished. He's been tracking the buck for three years. Through thousands of trail photos, he's watched it blossom from an odd-looking yearling, into a magnificent creature.
"I had my full intentions of doing everything I could to kill this deer because I knew the rarity of it and I knew how special it'd be, and everybody and their brothers in the town knew about it," Potter said.
In fact, the piebald gene that makes the deer white is so rare, only about 2 percent of deer have it.
"To see something that's really unique-- myself, I've only seen one or two animals that are partially white in the wild-- and go 'ahh.' It's really neat," said Mark Scott, with Vermont Fish and Wildlife. "It's not a healthy gene in the animal, so you're going to have a lot of health issues with the animals if you continue to foster that gene in the wild."
Which is why piebald and albino deer aren't protected in Vermont.
When Potter took Ward hunting over the weekend, he never imagined that would be the day to make the chase all worth it.
"He started whistling. So then I was like, 'OK, I gotta get ready.' So then after that, I saw a doe first, and then I did a double-take and then I saw him, and I was like, 'OK, I gotta shoot. I got to,'" Ward said.
"She goes, 'Yeah, I shot the buck but he had white all over him.' And I was like, 'Oh my God, I know exactly which deer you shot.' And from there on out the mix of emotions was just unbearable. I went up to the deer and I was teary-eyed," Potter said.
Potter and Ward say they shot the deer in their secret hunting spot. Both say it's a moment they'll never forget.
"I picked her right up in the air about three, four feet, spun her around. I was beyond happy," Potter said. "She deserves it. She will respect the animal, she won't just shove it aside like it's nothing... It took a girl to come in and show the boys how it was done."