Hunting creates strong bonds, traditions
The season for firearm hunting for antlered deer opens Monday across Pennsylvania, and many woodsmen have a unique tradition that's honored year after year.
Some view this weekend as an all-guys getaway, where men of all ages can forget about their daily troubles with help from a few beers, a campfire and the prospect of a buck when Monday arrives. Others see it as an opportunity to bond with family and teach younger generations to respect nature's offerings.
State Rep. Marc Gergely, D-White Oak, who chairs the Pennsylvania Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus, takes annual hunting trips to Greene County with friends and family.
“It's always about the friendships you have,” Gergely said. “You share the hunting experience, but you're with the same guys every time. You build relationships. You tell stories. This might be the only time you have together with some of these people.”
Greg Orosz, 28, of Irwin and Gerald McGrew Jr., 38, of Dravosburg traveled to Punxsutawney on Friday for a week in a farmhouse-style cabin with a group of at least 10 men.
“We all get together for the week,” Orosz said. “Everybody has to bring one meal. When we're not hunting, we hang out and play cards.”
Orosz and McGrew said their group plans for this week all year, making cabin improvements and repairs as the months go by to avoid doing any work during their hunting trip.
“This week is about having fun and making memories,” McGrew said. “It's nice to be out there with the older guys. We're hearing their stories and we're making our own.”
Eli Tubin, 32, of McKeesport started hunting when he was 11 years old. Growing up in Greensburg, he observed his father's skill in the woods when he was as young as 5.
“My dad and I still hunt together as much as we can, including five days at our cabin hunting for bear last weekend,” Tubin said. “We didn't get a bear, but it's more about spending time with each other outdoors.”
Sometimes, they're joined by extended family, making the experience more valuable for younger generations.
Tubin's nephews, who are 15 and 7 years old, are getting into the sport, with the youngest participating in youth hunts.
“They love the outdoors and are learning many values associated with hunting,” Tubin said.
Vince Brownfield, 43, of McKeesport has been hunting since he was 8. He was raised in Versailles and always hunted on open land along the Youghiogheny River.
“On opening day, I still hit that same spot right by where I grew up by the Boston Bridge,” Brownfield said. Each year, he heads into the woods with his children Justin Brownfield, 18, Angela Brownfield, 15, and Isiah Coddington, 10, and friends.
“Every child should at least have the experience,” he said. “It gives them other options for things to do. It teaches them so much about safety. If they're brought up the right way, they'll respect weapons a lot more than kids who are brought up not knowing.”
Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.