Q)From a high seat I watched two fallow deer. One was a poor young buck, which I shot, and the other an older white buck. Are there many white fallow deer or any legends attached to them?
A) There is something special about a white buck, though they are often called Judas deer because they reveal the presence of other deer and most fallow herds have a few specimens. Some stalkers admire and spare them, but where night poaching is rife they are readily spotted, so their numbers vary.
They are not albino and the eye colour is normal. Fawns start life a rich cream colour, which changes to white over the next one to four years. In their book Fallow Deer, Donald and Norma Chapman link the popularity of The White Hart as a pub name to King Richard II, who adopted a white hart emblem on his badge. Technically, hart refers to a red stag, but heraldry has merged hart and buck over the centuries. White Hart pub signs these days, and even some full-sized effigies, display both species or hybrids of the two. Where the deer (stag or buck) has a crown and chain round its neck, this refers to a legend, as reported by Aristotle, that Diomedes consecrated a white hart (species uncertain) to the goddess Diana and placed a collar of gold round its neck.