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ALBERT LABELLE


Bert has always been one of the Breton Brothers.  He may be a cousin by blood, but he was raised with us like a brother, for many years.  He added a sixth boy, so we outnumbered the girls.  We loved having Bert with us.  He always hung around with Gerry, and together they played tricks and pulled stunts that only they could have dreamed up.  It seemed like they just egged each other on, and their victims included all of us—brothers, sisters, and even my Dad.  About the only person Bert never played tricks on was my Mom.

Because he grew up with us, of course Bert learned to hunt with us.  He began his hunting career over 40 years ago, and got his first deer in 1964.  His children enjoyed coming to the cottage in Venosta, from the time they were born, and they all walked the woods with us, both son and daughters.  His son, Sylvain, now hunts with us; and Bert’s grandchildren have walked on the 100 Acres.

Bert is affable, jocular, beloved by children, and still a prankster par excellence.  We count on him for riddles, stories, and songs, during hunting season and all year ‘round.  And Bert can sing. The whole family grew up with song—Dad and Mom both sang beautifully—but Bert has an especially mellow baritone.

Bert loves hunting season.  He begins planning weeks in advance, and toughs it out through the worst weather and most discouraging conditions. Even since having triple bypass heart surgery, Bert doesn’t miss a day.


BERT’S “BLACK & DECKERS”

Bert has nailed three trophy bucks, in addition to an assortment of smaller deer, over the years.  ‘Way back in 1964, we were driving the run at Mud Lake, where Bert was to shoot his first deer.  Back then, we were allowed to shoot does or bucks.  But that day, Bert shot first one doe, then another, by mistake.

Bert was moving through a thick swamp overgrown with a mix of cedar, spruce and balsam, when he spotted a deer running across his path.  It appeared to be trying to cut back behind the walkers.  Bert fired, and the deer disappeared, and then reappeared again a few yards away.  Bert fired again, and heard the deer crash and thrash about.  Bert had not seen antlers, as the action was so fast and furious, but that was not a problem at the time—a deer license was for “any deer.”  Adrenalin pumping, Bert pushed through the bush to get to the downed deer.  He was shocked and surprised when he got there—there were two does down.  Talk about mixed feelings—he didn’t know whether to be proud of the two shots that took down two deer running through the bush, or be afraid of losing his license and his gun for shooting more than one deer.  After the drive, when we got the two does back to the cottage, I made a call to the local game wardens and explained the situation.  Whoever I spoke with said he understood the situation, suggested we tag both does and enjoy the rest of our hunt.  Dad said to not worry, and we would all appreciate the excellent meat from the two does.  Those two were the first of many, many deer we have taken in that spot in the forty-odd years, since. 

The first one of Bert’s three big bucks was taken not far from where he had shot the two does. “The Top of Mud Lake” is a typical high hardwood ridge running above a swamp.  In the swamp was a muddy waterhole that the local beavers worked into a small lake.  The hardwoods on the ridge had been cut years before, and the remains of an old red truck lay next to a well-trampled deer runway.  This is the spot Bert had chosen, to lie in wait for a good whitetail to show up.  Roger and Guy were running over the ridge, trying to move the deer down.  The one that went to Bert turned out to be huge, fat and muscular—an 8-pinner, neck engorged in full rut.  The buck would have run right over Bert, if he had not been good with his 30-30. 

Bert got bucks number two and three, about five years apart, on the Big Ridge, at the rock above Minnow Lake:  one was above the rock, and one below it.  These gave Bert another big 8-pinner and one gorgeous buck with ten points.  All three were in the vicinity of 200 lbs.  These were the best of many that Bert shot.  He still has the desire and the eye for more.  Bert has always referred to big deer, whether bucks or does, as “a real Black & Decker!”  Where he picked that up, only Bert knows.