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Sylvain is Bert’s oldest child, his only son. Sylvain, my son Bob, and Helen’s daughter Mitch were all born within a couple of years of each other. Like all the other Bretons, Bert brought his family to Venosta as often as he could, so Bert’s kids spent plenty of time with Gramps(my dad) and Grannie, walking the bush, watching the deer, listening to the hunters. Sylvain imitated Gramps, just as we all did. He seems to have inherited my Dad’s affinity for children—kids just gravitate toward him. I’ve watched him, and found he plays with them like equals, never talking down to them, listens to them and treats them with respect. He doesn’t brush kids off—if a little one really needs a ride on that four-wheeler, Sylvain will make the time. If he promises something to a kid, he always follows through.
Sylvain soaked up the hunting lore from both his dad and Gramps, and he loves the bush. He walks the woods all year-round, sometimes scouting and sometimes just enjoying. He is an excellent woodsman, capable of guiding the youngsters just learning to run the Ridge. He has a good sense for deer—he knows where to find them, and he’s not afraid of going much of anywhere. He’s shot quite a few deer that way. But he can also track and move deer, if that is the plan, and he is a good team player.
Sylvain always phones a couple of weeks before hunting season, to ask if his room is ready. He sets up his corner of the basement with extension cords, a tiny tv, and plenty of nails for hanging his wet socks.
“Sly,” as he is known to his friends, has already equaled his Dad’s prowess by accumulating three trophy Bucks. The first one came from a drive we ran over the Roger Lake Mountain. Rick, Guy and I were the drivers, and it was a good hard hike. I had recommended to Sylvain that he go to my own favorite runway, pick a spot, and be awfully ready. He would be in a tough spot, full of scrubby spruce and balsam, with the runway meandering through it. Hunters in there can’t see more than fifty feet. The shooting is safe, but often fast and furious. Sylvain wasn’t quite in the designated spot, but the runway once again proved reliable. He let a big doe go by, knowing that the buck would likely be following, so he was ready for action when he had to shoot quickly. It was a huge buck with 12 pins—just awesome.
Number two, a great 8-pinner, came one late afternoon, just before we would have had to quit, at dusk. After we do the long drive on the Ridge, which takes more than an hour, we often do a quick run to pick up anything that might have squeezed by us. That afternoon, Rick and the Monette boys did the drive, and Sylvain shot the buck about twenty feet from where he was standing.
The third buck, another gorgeous 8-pinner, was shot just at dusk. Sly was planted among a few shrubs surrounding one spruce tree, a wooded island in the middle of a field. We had seen lots of does there, but the rut was just beginning. Three does and a fawn were feeding in the field, close to Sylvain. Suddenly the buck came out of the woods and tried to run off the fawn. The fawn ran right toward Sylvain, with the crazy buck behind it. That pretty much says it all.
Rick and I met Sly, driving his 4-wheeler from the wooded island, dragging his trophy over about two inches of thick, wet snow. We sat around admiring the buck so long that we ended up field dressing it for transport, in the dark. It was a totally beautiful day!