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.