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South Dakota Hunter Harvests Rare Piebald Elk

A South Dakota hunter got the mount of a lifetime with his rare piebald cow elk that was harvested in 2012.

Jason Schnackenberg of Oral, South Dakota is a long-time hunter and landowner in an area known for its elk herds. What wasn't widely known though, was a secret he had been keeping to himself since 2011. Within those herds of elk stood one elk in particular that had caught his attention, and with good reason; Schnackenberg had his eyes on a once-in-a-lifetime prize - a piebald elk.

While seeing piebald whitetail deer is becoming less of a rarity due to the proliferation of digital cameras and smartphones, the same condition in elk has remained quite elusive. Schnackenberg was informed by wildlife officials that the odds of finding a piebald elk are 1 in 100,000, and only three cases have been reported. So on Oct. 5, 2012, southwest of Pringle on his family's ranch, despite having the opportunity to cash in his any-elk tag on a trophy bull elk, he took the piebald cow elk whom he'd had his eyes on for over a year.

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According to Schnakenberg, finding the elk was easy in 2011, but by 2012 some of the white on its pelt had faded. Luckily he was able to spot it early on in the season in a herd of 80 other elk. He stalked with 60 yards of the piebald elk and took his shot.

Seeing as this animal was not only rare but beautiful to behold, Schnakenberg saw no other way to immortalize the moment than with a full body mount, pictured above. The Rapid City Journal reported that Strapmeyer Taxidermy in Rockerville did the work, which Schnackenberg said took about 15 months to complete.

Have you ever seen a piebald elk? Would you have taken such a rare animal? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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South Dakota Hunter Harvests Rare Piebald Elk