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Deer Season Becoming Family Tradition

10-year-old Maddi Fink took her first buck in Madison Township Armstrong County on a mentor hunt while accompanied by her father Micki Fink at 11AM Monday, December 1, 2014. Maddi, of Tidal, is the granddaughter of County Commissioner Rich Fink and will continue the family tradition Monday. (submitted photo)

by Jonathan Weaver

While the start of deer hunting season might be a time of tranquility and silence for some, it has become a family tradition for other local families.

County Commissioner Rich Fink expects the family atmosphere to be at his house bright-and-early Monday morning.

“Hunting is like a family tradition. I know Monday morning, probably about 3:30AM, my wife cooks breakfast and I’ll probably have anywhere from 15-20 people at my house,” Fink said. “My wife’s not a hunter, but her joy is to get up and cook the first-day breakfast.

“It’s sort-of like a holiday at my house.”

Part of the hunting party will include Fink’s two sons, Mick and Corey, 11-year-old granddaughter, Maddi, and his four younger brothers – Terry, Ed, Dave, and Roger.

While classes are canceled Monday for Maddi, some of the other hunters save up their vacation time for Monday’s opening day.

“And, when everyone stops back at my house, it’s dark. We are out for the day.”

Even when he wasn’t yet old enough to hunt, Fink and his brothers learned how to hunt from his father, Richard.

“We hunt bear, deer, turkey – and we’re also fisherman,” Fink said. “We all got that heritage from my dad.”

Fink’s mother, Mary, used to be in-charge of the pre-hunting morning breakfast at their family camp in Madison Township before they settled in to Rich’s house since most of them hunt in Madison Township for the day.

The family has also been successful the past few years – such as the recent bear season when the family totaled a dozen bear during the past three years – including six in 2013 and five in 2014.

The family tradition also continues next week for the Lash Family.

Gabe Lash, of Center Hill, has been a hunter for about 10 years.

Lash has taken his 10-year-old son, Colton, out with him since Colton was four years old, and now seven-year-old, Carter, has an interest in the outdoors as well.

“We plan much of our fall schedule around hunting in the woods. There’s not too many Saturdays that are free from the beginning of October until Christmas – we try to get out every Saturday if we can,” Lash said.

“It’s a family affair. It’s just a way to connect with family and friends.”

Even though the family trio hasn’t had any kills yet this season, Lash expects nearly a dozen family and friends to try their luck Monday for the opening of deer season.

“It’s been a hard season for us. We know that they’re there – it’s not so much missed opportunities, but it’s about selecting and shooting the one you’re happy with,” Lash said.

“For me as a father, spending time with them is just as important as whether we see a deer or not.”

Lash and his sons went archery hunting last weekend and sat atop the 15-foot high tree stand near the family’s farm in Adrian.

In recent memory, Lash is most-proud of the nine-point he shot last year because it was his first with a bow. The head is mounted –in his son’s room.

“(Colton) told me that when he shoots his buck, it’ll go up (in his room) and mine will be moved to the basement,” Lash laughed.

Given the high percentage of registered gun-owners in Armstrong County, Fink thought Monday’s opening day is also a family tradition for other local families as well.

“The first day of buck could actually be a holiday. And, if Armstrong County had school, there’d probably be very few students there.”

8-Year-Old Records First Kill

Eight-year-old Brock Stairs shot his first buck November 7 with a crossbow while mentored by his father, Nathan. Brock’s buck was a 17” nine-point that rough scored in at 123 5/8! (submitted photo)

A summer full of crossbow practice already paid off for a youth hunter.

Eight-year-old Brock Stairs shot his first buck November 7 in Dayton alongside his father, Nathan.

The introduction of the mentor hunting license three-day youth rifle season enabled Brock to get his first deer – a doe – at the age of seven last Fall alongside his father, but 2015 started out as a challenge for the pair.

“I learned very quickly that an eight year old has very little patience and lacks the ability to sit still for very long! Every night we would come home with a story for mom that would start out, “they busted us again mom!”

However, atop a pipeline stand during the early-afternoon of Saturday, November 7, Brock and Nathan watched deer run from one side of the valley to the next, with nothing close enough to shoot – meaning “honey hour” was coming.

From about 27 yards away, Brock and Nathan saw a buck heading right toward them.

The pair decided to wait until morning to retrieve the buck (after Brock was reassured a bear would not eat the deer) with other family and friends – including Brock’s brother, Brody, mother and grandfather.

“My son made a great shot on this buck and the blood trail took us right to him. To see the look on his face was priceless! Brock and I jumped for joy and to be able to share this moment with our family and friends made it even better! This was, by far the best day of hunting I have ever had!.”

Brock’s buck was a 17” nine-point that rough scored in at 123 5/8!

“He still has a ways to go to beat his old man but he has one heck of a start! This is definitely a day Brock and I will never forget!”

Nathan said he longed for the day to take his son hunting ever since he was born. He hopes other mothers or fathers that take their children out for a hunt make just as many memories this season.