Oh Deer: Pennsylvania Family Adopt Odd-Looking Deer

by Shelby Scott

As a Pennsylvanian myself, I can tell you that many Outsiders across the northeastern Keystone State have rather big hearts when it comes to unique and unusual creatures. That said, one PA family adopted an odd-looking whitetail deer several years ago. Since then, their herd has grown significantly.

According to USA Today, Ralph Petricone and Renee Winslow of Pike County, PA adopted a unique piebald whitetail 11 years ago through a petting zoo. The strange deer, with both brown and white markings and a pink nose, attracted Winslow’s attention. That’s when their family began to grow.

“She fell in love with it and had to have it,” Petricone said.

After receiving the proper authorization from the state, Winslow and Petricone brought the funny-looking deer home. They then affectionately named it “Pie” for its pattern. Now, several years later, the couple often welcomes Pie, in addition to five other companions, into their home. That’s in addition to three acres of land the creatures are welcome to peruse.

“They are all very gentle,” Petricone said of their hooved pets. “You can pet every one of them; they’ll come up. The grandkids love them. They can put their arms around their heads.”

Overall, the deer seem to have made good pets for the PA family. However, the one downside to breeding the piebald whitetails is that they can more easily develop genetic abnormalities. While Winslow and Petricone own six deer overall, three of the group are deaf.

As per the outlet, the deer owners stated, “They are interesting looking,” although Petricone did wish their unique markings didn’t lead to such significant defects. Nevertheless, “Nature takes its own course…Each one gets its own special attention.”

Advice for Owning Whitetailed Deer

While for hunters across the state, owning whitetail deer may seem odd, there is actually a huge interest in raising the typically wild animals. And after receiving approval and licensing from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, those with interests like the Pike County couple can also adopt their own whitetail deer.

According to the news outlet, the department oversees operations like these, called Cervidae Livestock Operations. The appropriate arrangements allow any individual to keep privately owned deer.

Overall, after years of raising their own deer, Petricone said, “They actually make great pets but only if you put the time in and bottle raise them and raise them up from fawns yourself.”

That said, the deer owner shared that for those considering securing their own domestic deer, be sure to do your research. He suggested first visiting a location legally licensed to house and raise whitetail deer. Like other unique or exotic pets, he shared that feed and vet bells for whitetail deer can be rather expensive.

“They’re eating constantly,” he said.

Additionally, Petricone added, “Think about how much work and time you can devote to it. It’s got to be something you really want…Don’t get it unless you really want it bad.”

Further, he stressed the importance of beginning with a doe as males become aggressive during the annual rut.