An 11-year-old boy from Howell, MI, bagged his first 12 point buck, and to top that off it was a rare albino deer. Gavin Dingman is the boy with the trophy many only dream about getting. Hunting is almost a religion in northern Michigan, and this young man has practically been elevated to celebrity status. He was a home town celebrity for the first couple of weeks, at least, after his proud father posted the pictures on social media.
Initially after the photos started circulating, Dingman’s father started receiving phone calls from every kind of hunting venue, magazines, and television shows. Everyone was interested. The albino deer had been spotted in the area for a few years, and this little hunter even had a photo of the elusive prey. The Dingman’s neighbors were also well acquainted with the rare breed, and many had tried and failed to get him during hunting season. What is even more impressive is the young hunter got the prize with a cross-bow, and this only gave him more credibility with the hunting crowd.
The father, in true hunter spirit, tells his son not to take the shot unless he is sure, and by sure he meant 100 percent, as he did not want to just injure the deer. Young Dingman is a seasoned hunter and this was not his first buck, just his first 12-point, albino buck. The family states that they will have a taxidermist do a full mount, using the entire body, as it is too rare to not do it up right.
All good things must come to an end, however, as many things do once they are put out there on social media. This family has been barraged with hate mail via the web since posting the picture of the albino deer. Much of it is more disturbing that the act of hunting deer, which is legal in the state of Michigan. It is also legal to shoot an albino deer in this state. Unfortunately, the internet has given voices to those that would otherwise not have the courage to say such hateful things. Hunting for food has been an acceptable standard for many years, and many that hunt are going after the only food they can afford.
While true that all people deserve to have an opinion, and there are many out there that feel strongly about the killing of animals for meat, many would question the right to turn that opinion into a license to threaten an 11-year-old boy who was doing what he was brought up doing. This is particularly so when it is a boy who learned that skill as something that would help put food on his family’s table. One woman posted that the father and son should be “shot” and not just shot, but “through the lungs,” as that was the shot that killed the deer. Many experts believe that the albino deer has a shorter life span than their tan cousins, and spotting one, let alone killing it, is one of those rare times that many a hunter would treasure. Some with strong views against hunting, however, are spewing hate-filled messages to not only the young boy, but his parents as well.
Those on the other side of the argument have questioned how many of the offended actually eat meat, but choose to do the “civilized” thing by ordering it through the drive through or picking up packages of meat at the grocery store. No matter ones feelings on the subject, it is difficult to justify subjecting a child to death threats over what he considered the “coolest” experience ever, bagging the elusive albino deer.
Opinion by Kristi Cereska