Tuesday, December 5, 2023

A Glimpse of Mendocino County’s Iconic, Pure White Fallow Deer—MendoMoments

A glimpse of the Mendocino County’s fallow deer [All photographs taken and provided by Jacob Haydon Kziki]

On Sunday, January 22, 2022, Jacob Haydon Kziki got the chance to see one of Mendocino County’s marvels: a bevy of pure white fallow deer grazing along Highway 101 on the Willits Grade.

Fallow deer are native to Europe. Historians trace Mendocino County’s herd to a man named Charles Howard. Howard lived from 1877 to 1950 and become well-known for training thoroughbred horses, including the well-known Seabiscuit, at Ridgewood Ranch south of Willits.

William Randolph Hearst brought fallow deer to his ranch in San Simeon. Howard was able to procure a small gang of them and bring them to his Mendocino County ranch.

Mendocino County’s fallow deer are characterized as “leucistic” meaning they are white in color, but not albino. Fawns are often cream-colored and become pure white as they age.

Through time, the herd swelled to over 200 but has decreased in size.

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  1. These beautiful & unique critters have been a delight for those of us living on the ranch & in Golden Rule Mobile Village. The herd restricts itself to the ranch area, rarely straying east of 101 or into human communities. The bucks have webbed antlers, much like a moose. Sadly, we may be losing our beloved herd as it appears the herd no longer includes any bucks!!
    Dona Fridae Mitcham

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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