All three Steinbacher brothers awoke, packed up and headed to the woods before light on the first day of buck season, Nov. 26. They settled into their hunting spots in different parts of Lycoming County.
The sky lightened. At 7 a.m., 51-year-old Andy, of Williamsport, the middle brother, leveled his .270 Winchester at a deer 20 yards away. One buck down.
The youngest of the trio, Ronny, 40, also of Williamsport, waited in a tree stand. Fifty minutes after Andy fired, Ronny squeezed the trigger on his .308 Remington, downing the second buck at 70 yards.
At 9:30 a.m., Dan, 57, of Jersey Shore, raised his .280 Remington and, at 50 yards, took the third buck from his tree stand.
None of the brothers knew at the time that they had done something that never before happened in their family's hunting tradition - three brothers all harvesting bucks on the first day of the rifle season.
To make it even more interesting, each one took an eight-point.
"The first day of deer season, you go hunting ... it's kind of religious," Dan said.
The three brothers are the only ones left out of nine children still living to actually hunt.
"I was skinning my deer out and I heard him (Dan) go up to the farm, and I knew something was going on because he started the forklift," Andy said.
No one runs the forklift except for Andy and Dan.
"So I knew he had something," Andy said.
"I was going to hang my deer and his (Andy's) boy came up," Dan said.
Joe, son of Andy, was out hunting with his dad when Andy shot the buck.
"He said, 'Dad sent me up here to see if you killed something,' " Dan said. "I said, 'What did your dad kill?' "
Upon finding out that both bucks had the same number of tines, Dan asked, "Is it bigger than mine? He said, 'not as big a deer, but I think it has more horns.' "
Dan hefted his buck into his truck and pulled into Andy's driveway.
"It was the first time I ever shot a deer on the first day," Andy said. He's hunted since he was a kid.
The two brothers said they took pictures and were celebrating a bit, and then Ronny pulled in.
Ronny exited the truck and Dan noticed he wasn't in his hunting clothes.
"We were surprised when Ronny showed up," Andy said.
Ronny had not harvested a buck for 25 years.
"I was pretty excited for the first 10 minutes. Then the work started," he said.
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