Hunters tell stories about their fathers and grandfathers, and they emphasize the strong bonds that are formed between the generations through their hunting experiences.
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Mark Scott and his children
Gregory L. Sharrow
Deer Stories is a documentary series from Vermont Folklife Center Media. The series explores hunting from an insider’s point of view and is drawn from interviews with hunters from around Vermont. In this program hunters talk about their fathers and grandfathers and the role these men played in their development as hunters.
My grandfather gave me a 250 Savage, Model 99, and I treasured that rifle and I still have it right in the gun cabinet right now. It’s taken a lot of deer, a lot of ‘em.
My dad used to hunt and he would come home all the time, empty-handed, and I was always disappointed. He never even got a rabbit.
Every deer I shoot today the first thing I think about is my dad.
Mary VanVeghten in dad's hunting clothes
When he used to leave for camp, I mean, I’d run downstairs and, four and five years old, I’d get into like a pair of his boots and his hunting coat. It was like I couldn’t wait until I could go with him, you know?
I got my first deer when I was fifteen years old and the next year I shot a buck the first day and I shot a bear the second day, which was a very big mistake in my life, but everybody thinks they have to be macho and go shoot a bear, right? Well, I shot him all right, I got him on the ground, then I couldn’t move him. I stayed with him all day. [BIRD SONG IN BACKGROUND.] And I hiked about two miles back to camp that night. I got back to camp and pretty excited that I’d shot a bear and Dad says, “Oh, really?” And I said, “Yuh.” And, “Okay,” he says, “we’ll go in tomorrow and get him, right?” “Yuh.” [BIRD SONG.] So we did. Dad, and I think there were four fellas in camp, and myself. We got up about quarter past four in the morning, had a big old breakfast, and we headed up on the mountain towards Philadelphia Mountain. I’d shot him way on top. I never seen men work so hard in my life to get that bear out. We got him out late in the afternoon. Got him back to camp and got him hung up. All that time nothing was ever said except everybody having a good time. And Dad took me aside, put his hand on my shoulder, and he says, “Now,” he says, “son, you’ve got a bear.” And he says, “We’ve helped you get it out.” And he says, “The next time you want to shoot a bear,” he says, “you’re on your own.” [LAUGHS.]
Prentiss Dwinell and his father
One of my most memorable hunts with my dad is one that he missed a big buck because of me. You know, I remember him tracking it down through the hardwoods. It was a sunny day, the last day in the season. Snow was melting. You could see the tracks very clearly and there was no doubt it was a big deer. And I remember the deer jumping out of its bed, I remember my dad pulling up to shoot, and I can remember this deer looking at me right eyeball to eyeball and I didn’t see any antlers on it and I hollered, “No, no! Don’t shoot, Dad, it’s a doe. It’s a doe.” And the minute the deer turned and wheeled and started to bound you could just see a tremendous rack. I mean, it was a beauty. And it bounded out and a long story short… my dad shot twice as it was bounding away, but cleanly missed. And he kind of turned around and looked at me, but never really said a word.
The very first year he passed away, I carried my radio that him and I hunted with. We had hand-held radios. And he weren’t on the other end. But I hunted with his rifle and that radio and did just pretty much the same thing, but by myself. I had other radios of the ones we use now and different frequencies and I didn’t take ‘em. I don’t why. I just, I guess it was a security blanket or to bring Dad along or something. I don’t know what it was, but I ended up getting a deer that year with his rifle and that meant quite a little bit. You know, he taught me everything he knew about hunting. He’s always with me. He’s been with me on quite a few hunts, so.
Gregory L. Sharrow
You’ve been listening to Vermonters Reg Kribstock of Braintree, Ron Boucher of Wallingford, Mark Scott of Barre Town, Mary VanVeghten of East Calais, and Phil Brown of Glover. Deer Stories was produced by Erica Heilman and Gregory Sharrow for the Vermont Folklife Center of Middlebury, Vermont. I’m Gregory Sharrow.