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.”