Chris’s Mom and Dad had him in hockey and football, and he excelled at all sports. My father made sure that woodsmanship and deer hunting became part of what he was. Chris also became a good fisherman. He hunted ducks and geese, and was equally deadly on partridge and rabbits. When his brothers Mike and Jeff came along, they followed in his footsteps. When they all became teenagers, they were closer in age to my brother Guy, and he became their main mentor.
During their late teen years and early twenties, they really got into bow hunting with Guy. This was when we lost them for most of the rifle season, as time did not permit them to do both. They are all excellent at whatever kind of hunting they pursue. They are strong and patient, and have tremendous skill in the bush, as their photos will confirm. There was never much these three could not do, and we had great times together. On the hunt, they were hard-working, and never disappointed anyone. They took bucks with rifle and bow, and are what I would call, at the top of their game.
I recall being with Mike when he was 12 or 13 years old. I sent him down below the Ridge to check out fresh tracks that were headed toward the swamp. I stood high on the hillside, near the runway coming up out of the swamp. At times, I could spot the kid working the tracks like a hound down below. He was quick, extremely fast, wiry and athletic. Suddenly, as I watched, a deer was running, tail high, with Mike in pursuit. From my vantage point, they were moving fast, one beside the other, running together. The chase was on, and I could hear the crish-crashing of the two of them across a considerable distance. When the deer started to pick up speed, leaving Mike behind, he yelled up to me, “It’s a doe, Uncle Buck. It’s got no rack.” He wasn’t even winded. Mike was not allowed a rifle, yet, but he was all business, in the woods. I will never forget how he matched that doe, stride for stride.
One day some dumb folks with guns walked into our territory and fired off a bunch of shots. We were on a run at the time, and the shots were not close enough to present an immediate danger, so we finished the run. Jeff, the youngest Ladurantaye brother, reported that there was a 4 x 4 truck in the woods, near what we call “the clay hill.” This was the source of the shots. We decided to have breakfast, then go and investigate. By the time we got going, about two hours after we heard the shots, the truck and whoever drove it were gone. From the tracks, we decided that there had been three or four hunters, and they had walked across the beaver dam. After tracking them for half an hour, we found blood indicating a wounded deer. The hunters’ tracks trailed the deer for awhile, then stopped and turned aside, as the deer tracks headed for the swamp. We pushed on. A doe jumped up in front of us, leaving some blood, but she was able to get out of there fast. Although the afternoon was getting late, we didn’t want to leave a wounded animal out there. After a discussion, we decided that the others would return to camp, while Jeff and I followed the doe.
We tracked that doe deep into the swamp. Jeff was young, and had never done this kind of tracking into the evening darkness. I had asked Jeff two or three times if he wanted to stop because of the darkness setting in. Each time, he replied an emphatic, “NO!” When I asked if he thought we could walk out of there in the pitch black darkness, he did not hesitate to say we could and we would. Finally, it was so dark that we couldn’t see tracks, blood, or even each other very well. Without flashlights, deep in the swamp, we had to give it up.
We came out to the camp road at about 8:30 p.m., where we met our guys, hoping to save us a three-mile walk to camp. Jeff and I were completely played out, but we had a wonderful sense of accomplishment. We never saw that truck again.