The Albino Deer of Marin County: A Cautionary Tale

by Mateo Burtch

Recently, I stayed at a Youth Hostel at Point Reyes. It was quite beautiful out there; the weather was so crisp and clear that you could easily make out the individual islands of the Farallones.

One morning I went for a good, long run, and along the way I saw hawks, lots of rabbits—and an albino deer. Actually, I saw a couple of albino deer.

They're kind of hard to miss. Pretty much the only way these deer could attract more attention to themselves would be if they had a 16-foot neon sign over their heads, with a rotating arrow that said "DEER HERE."

On the way back, I came across a pack of deer (a herd of deer? An exaltation of deer?) that included an almost black deer, a perfect Bambi stunt-The Deadly Deerdouble deer, a regular-style deer, and an albino deer.

My first thought was to run up to the little albino deer and fling my arms around its neck, sobbing, "Oh, Fluffkins! I'm so happy to see you! You're the only one who truly understands me! All of the other boys and girls at the orphanage just make fun of me because of my wooden penis, but you're always my friend!"

But then I thought: whoa. This is an albino deer here. What if this complete absence of melanin isn't a genetic defect? What if it's a . . . warning?

What if this is really a poison deer?!

My mind raced. My best guess was that this was a rare South American albino deer, probably blown off course by a storm during its annual migration. If so, a single, fleeting touch of this deadly deer's curare-soaked fur would leave me gasping for breath as a cascade of toxins broke down my body's cellular integrity! Within minutes, my abdomen would shoot up through my neck like a superheated broiler chicken, killing me instantly. Perhaps this ghostly pale vision would be the last sight I would ever see!

The deer stood alert, its ears twitching, its tail held high in the breeze. I had to think fast, or become the latest victim of this white-faced monster's despicable cruelty!

Fortunately, I remembered my shark gun. I carry a shark gun with me at all times, because there's no telling when a Class VI tropical typhoon will scoop out a chunk of ocean the size of Connecticut and drop it right on top of you—whales, sharks, and all. Old-timers will tell you that there's nothing as fearsome as battling a Great White Shark on a desolate mountain trail.

I pulled the shark gun out and dropped to one knee.

Ker-blam! The shark gun ricocheted in my grasp, and, through a cloud of smoke and powder, I could see it: the deadly, poisoned-tipped deer had a shark lance right through its forehead! A direct hit!

It slumped to the ground, lifeless, and its cohorts, seeing their leader dead, took off like aspirin tablets flung out of a salad shooter. I bent over to take a look. The albino deer's mouth was twisted almost into a smile, as though it was saying to me, "Well, you got me. You got me good." Of course, it might also have been saying, "You know that joke about the Russian, the Frenchman, and the American in the airplane? That's a good one."

Suddenly, I heard the sound of sirens. The Park Police!

I was in a tough spot. I had a dead deer on my hands and no good alibi. If Ranger Andy were to find me this way, I'd be sent up the river for life, because it was my third strike. In 1992 I'd killed a moose in a fistfight in a bar in Kellogg, Idaho, and in 1997 I'd shot a wood duck I'd found in bed with my wife. The third strike would be my last, and Ranger Andy knew it, too.

Acting quickly, I quickly began sawing off the deer's head with the end of my pants. (I wear metal pants as extra protection from sharks.) The sirens were getting closer—they were only a little ways away now. Feverishly, I sawed at the deer's tough hide, careful not to get any of its deadly poison on me.

In a moment, Ranger Andy and several of his henchmen rounded a copse and burst into the clearing, clipboards drawn.

"Why, hello, officer," I said, nonchalantly.

"Um, hello," Ranger Andy replied, looking at me suspiciously. "We, uh, we thought we heard a noise."

"Oh, that," I said, giving a little laugh and a little shrug. "That was just me, um, exploding poison BOMBS."

"Uh, okay, Lucky," he answered. "Well, have a nice day." And with that, he left.

You see, a moment before Ranger Andy arrived, I had slipped the deer's head over my own—apparently, the poison deer's name was "Lucky"—and assumed a deerlike pose, one authentic enough to fool poor Ranger Andy. And so I lived another day.

But it appears that Lucky was anything but.


© Mateo Burtch. Please don't duplicate without permission. Thanks.