Many times, the deer is just an afterthought

In your Thanksgiving Day newspaper (or, a day earlier on the web), you may have seen the story of Russell Tracy and the big buck he shot.

If you missed it — plenty of folks don’t get around to checking their news sources on holiday weekends — you can find it here:

And I really hope you’ll give it a look.

Russell Tracy of Sangerville poses with his big deer. (Photo courtesy of Russell Tracy)

A good hunting story, I’ve learned, can come in all kinds of shapes. Some are just simple, “look at how big this critter was” tales.

But in the best stories, the animal taken and tagged often turns into an afterthought; the real story is about the hunter.

This was one of those cases.

If you did miss the story, here are the high points: Russell Tracy overcomes more in a day than most of us. He doesn’t let his incomplete paraplegia stop him from living a full life. We can all learn something from his attitude.

Oh. And he shot a big deer earlier this month.

I thought Russell’s story was a perfect fit for Thanksgiving. I thought it might resonate with readers. And apparently, it has.

Russell’s wife, Julie, reached me through email and told me that their phone had been ringing off the hook. Among the callers: A young man they’d never met, who was battling serious health issues of his own. That man said that her husband was an inspiration to him, and the story helped show him how much he can still accomplish.

Folks are quick to criticize news outlets (often making good points), saying that all our industry does is focus on the negatives.

Sometimes, though, we get to tell a “good news” story that really matters.

This was one of those times.

Russell Tracy graciously told his story. I was merely the conduit.

But in the process, Russell helped prove to me — again — that the best hunting stories share the same quality.

They’re not really about the deer.

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John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.