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Apollo cancer survivor bags a buffalo

| Monday, Dec. 24, 2012, 7:47 p.m.
Frank Stefaniak of Apollo stands with the 2,000-pound buffalo he shot with a pistol this past fall.

Frank Stefaniak's already-interesting den is about to get something special.

The room is a monument to a life spent outdoors. There are mounts of deer he's taken across Pennsylvania. There's the mountain lion he shot in Montana, one big enough to make the Boone & Crockett Club record book. There's a black bear from Maine, a walleye from Lake Erie and an old, tooth-worn raccoon from when he had hounds.

Soon, though, the room will also be home to a shoulder mount of a buffalo.

“He's going to look like a Greyhound bus coming through the wall. I can't wait,” said Stefaniak, of Apollo.

He shot the animal on a Missouri preserve in September. Its horns scored 62 inches. If that holds up after the required drying time, it will make Safari Club International's record book as the 17th largest all-time taken with a handgun.

Stefaniak, who has one arm because of a long-ago hunting accident, shot it with a Smith & Wesson .460 magnum. That he was around to shoot it at all is a bit of a miracle.

Stefaniak was diagnosed with squamous cell cancer in his head and neck in August 2011. Thirty-four radiation and three chemotherapy treatments followed.

“The doctors told us there are four stages of cancer, with four the worst, and four stages within that, A, B, C and D, with D the worst. He was fourth stage between C and D,” said his wife, Livina. “Last year at this time, we didn't think he had long.”

He was declared cancer-free in April. A follow-up in August confirmed it.

Years of testing remain, but he felt well enough this fall to take his son, Shane, on a hunt. He tried to tempt him into an African safari. But Shane chose a boar hunt, with the goal of taking one with the same 7mm magnum rifle Stefaniak used to shoot a boar in the winter of 1974-75, when his dad took him after returning from the Marine Corps. Shane succeeded, taking an animal that weighed more than 300 pounds.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at bfrye@tribweb.com or 724-838-5148.

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