One of the really cool things about taking a seat in a Texas deer blind at the height of hunting season is the uncertainty. You never know what might happen out there from one minute to the next.

 While most hunting trips end without incident, some will inevitably turn magical.

 Often at the blink of an eye.

 Terry Goodman of Palestine knows all about deer hunting magic. At 78, he’s been playing the game for decades.

 Goodman was born in Junction and comes from a long line of cattle ranchers who settled in Kimble County in 1872. He’s been hunting since he was five and his colorful memory banks are ripe with entertaining fodder.

 Goodman was undeniably hard on his toys as a kid.

 He claims he wore out two BB guns by the time he was seven and a Benjamin pump .22 rifle by age 12. That’s when his father gifted him a Stevens single-shot .22 that he still owns today.

 “He paid $12.50 for it brand new,” Goodman said. “Things were different back then.”

 Way different.

 The times were good, but equally tough. Some country folks lived heavily off of the land back in the day. Many hunted more out of necessity than for pleasure.

 Goodman recalls some eventful tales about his late grandfather, A.D. Murr. Murr was a rancher of German descent. He often hunted from a saddle horse using a Winchester Model 1894 .25-35.

 Goodman said his grandfather killed hundreds of deer with the rifle. None of the venison ever went to waste, either.

 “He was one of those who believed in using everything up twice before he threw it away,” Goodman said. “He wouldn’t eat his own beef because he thought cattle were too expensive. He’d go kill whitetails to feed his kids and ranch hands.”

 Murr didn’t believe in using gates when his hunting excursions meant crossing fences. When he wanted to cross from one pasture to another, he would simply give his horse a kick and hop the fence.

 “That’s just the way he did it,” Goodman said. “When he shot a deer, he’d gut it, throw it over the horse and jump fences all the way back home.”

 Goodman inherited some his thrifty hunting beliefs from his grandfather.  Bucks with large antlers have never rang the bell very loud with the veteran deer hunter. He’s all about the back strap and gravy.

 “I’m more of a meat hunter,” he said. “As long has he’s legal, I’ll put him in the freezer.”

 That’s not to say Goodman hasn’t bagged some dandy bucks over the years. He has. But none to compare to the trophy he brought down on Nov. 13 in Anderson County.

 My guess is it’s the coolest looking deer in the entire family tree.

 Interestingly, the buck doesn’t have particularly large antlers. What sets it aside from the norm is its peculiar color.

 Whitetails are normally brown/greyish in color with a white areas around the throat, belly, eyes, nose and on the underside of the tail.

 Occasionally, however, Mother Nature throws a curveball in to the mix that causes DNA to go whacko. This sometimes results in abnormal hair or eye color and possibly other physical glitches that may impact bone development or cause vision problems.

 The buck Goodman shot was a genetic freak. It had a “piebald” coat. That means it had blotches of white hair in places where it should have been brown.

 The amount and location of the abnormal white hair will vary from one piebald case to another. Some may have a little; others a lot. The condition is found in bucks and does, alike.

 Either way, white-tailed deer with piebald coats are extremely rare. Less than one percent of Texas’ 5.4 million deer may be piebalds, according to Alan Cain, white-tailed deer program leader with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

 Though not as rare as true albino (all white with pink eyes) or melanistic (charcoal colored) deer, Cain says piebalds are extraordinary just the same. Just getting to see one is a lifetime experience.

 But that doesn’t mean freaks nature offer anything special to the gene pool. In fact, it’s just the opposite.

 Piebald and albino deer are naturally more visible to predators and hunters from birth. Plus, studies have shown albinos are frequently born with other recessive traits like dorsal bowing of the nose (Roman nose), short legs, scoliosis, hoof deformities, vision problems and other deficiencies that can lead to a shortened lifespan.

 While experts say many of the these deer never to live to maturity, Goodman’s Anderson County freak is evidence that isn’t always the case.

 The hunter said the buck was aged at 5 1/2 years old. Other than a considerable  amount of white in its coat, the deer appeared to be in normal physical condition. To hear Goodman tell it, the buck was a warrior.

 “There’s no doubt he was a fighter,” he said. “His antlers were busted up pretty bad.”

 The buck looks to have eight points in Goodman’s field photos, but he’s thinking it would have been a 12 pointer had it not been for a busted main beam on the right side.

 “We got one good daytime picture on a game camera and that’s what it looks like,” Goodman said. “The taxidermist says he can go by that picture and fix him up right.”

 According to Goodman, his son and a few close friends had known about the deer for about 2 1/2 years. The buck had been seen only one time last season.

 “He was pretty secretive,” Goodman said. “About all we had was a handful of game camera pictures of him, most at night, and that’s it.” Goodman said.

 Not surprisingly, there’s an eventful story behind the colorful buck. For starters, the whole deal unfolded on a little 18-acre spread. Goodman’s son, Darren, lives on the land and commutes to nearby Frankston, where he is the Chief of Police.

 Goodman described the land as all wooded except for a narrow pipeline that dissects the property near his son’s house. The land is bordered on one side by an 800-acre tract that is owned by a doctor who doesn’t hunt and 400 acres on the opposite side.

 “My son’s place is a travel corridor the deer follow between the two bigger tracts,” Goodman said. “They always cross the pipeline at a low spot about 180 yards from his house. It’s really a pretty good set up. We knew this buck lived in the area, but he didn’t show up very often. I really didn’t think I had a prayer of being there if he happened to pass through.”

 Goodman watches the crossing from a pop-up ground blind that he erects alongside his son’s driveway. There is corn feeder and a small food plot at the end of the pipeline. He relies on the goodies to stop the deer long enough to evaluate them before they melt into the brush.

 “I sit there every year,” he said. “That pipeline is maybe 15 yards wide at the most. You have to stay alert. You can’t go to sleep. It’s not a place where you see deer every time, either. I sat there six straight mornings before I finally saw him.”

 Goodman said it was just breaking day on that Saturday morning when he spotted movement near the crossing in the dim, grey light. He raised his rifle scope and saw a doe making its way towards the feeder. Moments later, he saw four legs moving though the brush behind the doe. He saw white spots on the shoulder of the deer as it turned broadside .

 “That’s all I needed to see,” he said.

 The hunter claims he doesn’t remember touching the trigger on his custom .270 that morning, but says he’ll never forget the flurry of emotions that followed when he and his son spotted the deer lying in the brush.

 “Neither us could say anything for a minute or two — we just stood there and stared,” he said. “We couldn’t believe what we were looking at. Only a die-hard hunter will understand all the feelings that were running through my mind. To me it was almost a religious experience.”

 Matt Williams is a freelance writer based in Nacogdoches. He can be reached by e-mail, mattwillwrite4u@yahoo.com.

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