To grandfather and grandson, time in forests is treasured

For Donald Black, who grew up on a small farm outside of Bangor and has been hunting for as long as he can remember, hunting not only is a treasured past-time but, in recent years, has become something more.

The thrill of hunting, for him, no longer is in shooting a buck or a bear but in raising his 13-year-old grandson, Anthony Smith, to be a true outdoorsman.

“He appreciates the woods. That’s what they’re supposed to be doing at his age, not just going for a buck and showing it off when they shoot one,” Black said.

Black, of Williamsport, has been grooming his grandson to carry on the family hunting tradition since before Anthony could walk. When Anthony was just an infant, his grandfather would carry him up the mountain in a harness on his back.

As Anthony grew older, Black continued to teach him the value of nature as well as important things such as gun safety.

“I got him a ‘training’ gun, which was about the size of a double-barrel shotgun, but it didn’t shoot anything,” Black said.

The training gun allowed Anthony to practice unloading a firearm and the proper ways to carry it when walking through the woods.

To some it may seem that both Black and his grandson have been extremely successful as far as harvesting trophy animals goes. In 2012, Black shot two coyotes and an eight-point buck on the same day of deer season, all within half an hour of one another.

In his first season trapping, Anthony claimed not only a coyote of his own but also a bobcat.

The two hunters measure their success in the woods against something a deeper than tagging a buck or a bobcat. Last year, for instance, Anthony couldn’t get a shot on a trophy buck. He let the buck pass by, rather than take a poor shot, and he doesn’t regret a thing.

“Hey, I got to see a huge buck. Some people don’t get the chance to do that,” Anthony said. “My favorite thing about hunting is the enjoyment of the activity, not just getting a buck. That’s the true privilege.”

Black, who has watched Anthony grow into a successful hunter and trapper, considers hunting with his grandson not only a chance to mentor to him but also a chance to be with his closest friend.

“We could go out and you’d say, ‘Look at those guys clowning around,’ but we’re just having fun. When we need to get serious, it’s like flipping a switch,” Black said.

Anthony equally values the time he gets to spend with his grandfather. When spring turkey season opened, they had made plans to hunt, but Black came down with pneumonia.

“I told him to rest and get better. Those turkeys will be there next season. His health was more important than that,” Anthony said.

Even when they aren’t hunting together, Black and his grandson are in the woods, observing the animals and cleaning up any trash they might find.

Both also are quick to point out that one of the unsung heroes in their hunting adventures is Anthony’s dad and Black’s son-in-law, Nathan, who helps the two hunters extract their animals from the woods, off a mountainside or wherever they chose to hunt that day.

Future plans for Anthony’s hunting experience include a possibility of hunting during the muzzleloader season.

“We’ll probably be working into that soon,” Black said.

Black and his grandson have a non-traditional approach when it comes to telling about the size of the animals they trap or hunt. They don’t weigh or size the animals they harvest.

It doesn’t matter the season. These two hunters are in the woods not to fill tags but to create memories.

“The smile on his (Anthony’s) face is bigger than anything we could hunt or trap,” Black said.