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Bringing in trophy bucks is a family affair

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December 13, 2007

By MEGAN JAMES and ANDY KIRKALDY

LINCOLN — The Sargent family of Lincoln will have lots of venison in the freezer this winter and stories to share for years to come thanks to a fortunate combination of hunting acumen and good luck last week.

First Stanley Sargent bagged a trophy buck with one shot from his muzzleloader, then three days later his son Brett Sargent felled an even bigger buck, also with a single shot.

“Always the bridesmaid, never the bride,” Stanley said with a wry smile in his voice when asked how he felt upon learning that his son had got the bigger buck. Then he added, “Really, I’m tickled.”

It started on Wednesday, Dec. 5. “Everybody had been up there looking for this deer,” Stanley said that afternoon, as he nudged the 160-pound animal back into the bed of his truck, blood dripping onto the snow beneath it as he closed the rear gate.

Early that morning he swapped deer stories with fellow hunters while filling up on breakfast at Kinfolk Kountry Restaurant in Bristol. He’d been in the hospital only a week before for a hernia operation, so he hadn’t been able to hunt in Vermont muzzleloader season yet.

“If I get one, someone’s going to have to help me out,” he recalled telling the folks at the restaurant.

Sargent left Kinfolk, and not half a mile up the road, he saw the deer on the edge of the woods, evidently in pursuit of a doe, he said. He pulled over, grabbed his muzzleloader, got out of his truck and shot.

“I see feet flying and horns flying everywhere,” he said. But he didn’t have any powder left. He’d put his pouch full of muzzleloader paraphernalia away earlier this fall after hunting in New York during muzzleloader season there. After his surgery, Sargent forgot to put it back in his truck.

“So, boy, I was really nervous,” he said. “Only one shot.”

He was worried, too, about lifting anything — his doctor had told him not to lift anything over 25 pounds. So when he confirmed he had killed the deer, he called the Kinfolk restaurant, and got Leo Fagga, who works there, on the phone.

“He came up and we went out in the meadow and we pulled it,” Sargent said. “Leo’s in his 60s, and I was hurting, and we dragged it out 15 feet and stopped. Dragged it 15 more and stopped.”

At the road they flagged down a car to get some extra help with the lifting. The guy who pulled over was as excited as Sargent was to see that deer.

“He’d been looking for this deer,” Sargent said. “About 20 people had been looking for it with bows and arrows since October.”

In his 20 years hunting in Lincoln, the 8-pointer is the biggest deer Sargent has ever killed with a muzzleloader. He plans on getting the head mounted and eating the rest.

“When you get one like that, that’s a trophy deer,” he said. “It goes to show you what can happen right off quick.”

Quickly, though, was how the spotlight as the most successful hunter in the family passed from Stanley to his son.

Brett Sargent is a tracking hunter, and the conditions were right for his hunting style on Saturday, Dec. 8. He started checking out deer prints in the orchard below his parents’ home.

“It was finally good tracking snow … It was a perfect day,” he said. “I found the track early in the morning and it was a huge track. I knew it was a good deer.”

Brett tracked him through swamps and thick stuff, thought he was heading up Mount Abraham and he was right. As morning went on a snowstorm hit and the wind was in his face. He believes this helped covered up his presence from the deer. “It covered everything up, me and everything else,” he said.

“I kept on him … He got done chasing does and he started feeding again. I came up over a knob, and he was by himself, which was easier, I didn’t have to pick him out,” Brett recounted. He was in a clearcut way up on Mount Abe, a mile and a half from any road.

First he thought the buck was lying down; all he could see was rack poking up over log. But the deer was standing up in deep snow. As Brett walked within 15 feet with wind in face the deer still had no idea he was there.

“I sat there for what seemed like an eternity, but it was only about five seconds, probably,” he said. “He moved, and when he was broadside, I took a shot, and he dropped right there. He died instantly.”

He had tracked the animal 5.5 miles; he measured it on his GPS. Then he dragged it 1.7 miles to the nearest road.

“It wasn’t bad because they had logged up in there recently,” he said.

The deer was a trophy all right. It weighed in at 180 pounds. It’s nine-point rack measured 21 and 3/4 inches across.

Brett joked that his dad had had the bragging rights for three days.

“I had to shut him up,” he said, adding, “It was a good year at the end there.”

Look for a complete report on the muzzleloader deer season in the Thursday, Dec. 20, edition of the Addison Independent.

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