Memories - It was another benefit of having a big family. We went out as brothers and had a strong sense of companionship. I think we enjoyed it more because we had that companionship available to us and a lot of people don’t have that. We had a lot of adventures together. We went trout fishing in Emporium every year. We were able to fish on native trout streams, when most people fish on stock streams. We were lucky. We spent a lot of time together and had a lot of laughs. We also went to Coudersport for a traditional bow shoot. We learned to shoot recurve bows when we were very young. We hunted raccoons in Altoona. We just loved camping out in tents or sleeping by the fire. We’d shoot targets up and down the mountain. We had two Redbone Coonhounds named Dixie and Queen. Pete had Dixie and Queen was mine. We’d take them out with us. We also started a tradition of camping out after Christmas, no matter what the elements were at the time. Once we were out there in negative temperatures. But we would build shelters and fires. Sometimes we’d be out there for a day or a few days. One time I was out there for two weeks. We used to put up a bunch of tree stands and number them on a map. Then we’d draw them out of a hat and go out together. It’s not even really about hunting though. It’s about spending time together and putting food in the freezer.
Best shot - That’s me. Either me or Sam. I prefer to shoot archery because it’s more of a challenge. It gives the animal a fighting chance. But you better be good.
Funny story - One time we were all out in the woods in different places and I heard a loud boom. I thought somebody had gotten a deer. But we got back to camp and found that a log had rolled off the fire and our camp was destroyed.
Memories - Hunting was something we always did together when we were younger. We would go camping and hunt in the woods. The best part about it (besides having time off) was just being together. We’re around each other all the time, but we’re always working. It’s nice to be able to relax, get a break, and to take it easy for a change. We just talk about life that doesn’t pertain to business or our workload. Don’t get me wrong, we still talk about work sometimes. But it’s a different kind of bonding experience. I think muzzleloader hunting was the most fun. It’s not our busy season - it’s the dead of winter. We would all take our muskets and make a trip of it. It didn’t matter where we went, sometimes we’d just camp at the farm. But it’s fun to pretend like you’re a mountain man for awhile. Hunting is a change of pace. It’s the way we used to relax. We had a lot of good experiences. We all love being outdoors and have a general love for nature so it’s how we bonded. Now we’re old and boring. It seems like now, life is pointing us in different directions and we don’t have as much time. But in the back of everyone’s minds, I think we all hope we find time for it again.
Best shot - Everyone probably said me. I’ll just say me. From a realistic standpoint though, the older brothers were usually better because we’d been doing it longer and had more confidence. Really, Tim and Joe might be better shots than me. But I’ve gotten better. I haven’t hunted lately so it’s hard to say, but I do shoot a gun on a weekly basis. So I’m keeping up.
Funny story - We all had makeshift lean-to huts to sleep in and we bedded them with straw. We were out hunting that morning and everyone heard what we thought were gunshots. But then we got back and realized nobody got anything and the fire had caught the straw, then clothes, then the gunpowder. I don’t know who’s lean-to caught fire first. But nothing expensive got ruined. It would have been unfortunate if someone’s gun caught fire.
Memories - My favorite times were when we went out with our muzzleloaders for a week after Christmas. We would build our own shelters, teepees or lean-tos, and camp somewhere near the farm. We really only brought our hunting supplies, whiskey to keep warm, and ketchup to put on whatever we got. We would eat whatever we killed that day. We used to ice fish too and trout fish in the spring. We would cook everything over an open fire. It was really fun. When we were kids, we would pack up the horses and ride over to our grandpap’s farm. It made it feel like we were so far from home, when we were really only a short horse ride away. Hunting is about meditation for me. It’s a long session of looking inward. It’s a nice way to spend an hour before dark. There’s a sport to it. It’s fun to challenge yourself and it’s definitely a competition between us brothers to see who can bag the biggest fish or the meatiest dove. We taught our younger brothers and I look forward to teaching my kids. It’s an awesome family activity.
Best shot - I really don’t know who is the best shot. It depends on what you’re talking about. We shot archery, rifles, and muzzleloaders. We used recurve bows for archery. But we’d probably all say we’re the best shot.
Funny story - One year we built lean-tos around the fire for muzzleloader season. We’d had a really bad week and nobody got anything good. It was the last day and we were all still itching to bag something. We’re all spread out in the woods and I heard “bang, bang, bang” and I got excited because I thought somebody got something big. We came back to our camp to find that a log had rolled off the fire and burned all our lean-tos down. The “bang, bang, bang” we all heard was the log igniting extra gunpowder we had stored at camp. Thankfully, our most valuable items were with us at the time, but we lost everything that was back at camp, including our sleeping bags. It was a bad week - nobody shot anything and we burned our camp down. It was an effective way to clean up camp though.