43 Points

Whether you are a hunter, or loathe the pastime, people in Western Pennsylvania have to admit that this area is a hotbed for hunters, especially deer.

These are the antlers that belonged to the buck, shot by Steve McCartney

on the opening Monday of deer season. 43 points. Maybe. To be determined by an official scorer during the week-end from the national magazine,”Buckmaster”

But from the moment WTAE  first aired the story  Monday, and posted it on thepittsburghchannel.com, it has created an astonishing amount of interest.

And when we did a follow-up on Steve, we discovered he was a 4th-grade teacher at Washington Elementary in Washington  Twp–not far from Vandergrift in Westmoreland County.  The 28 year old teacher from Upper Burrell had hunted since the age of 12, and the publicity drawn by Steve’s unusual trophy had caused quite the stir at the school, where a fellow teacher told me he is very  popular.

So when we arrived to talk  to Steve about the aftermath  of bagging this buck, the whole school had turned out, kids donning home-made antlers, to hear his story.

Steve and the teachers turned it into a time of instruction, rather than celebration of his lucky shot.

I had posted on WTAE’s Fan Page on Facebook that I was surprised that he as a teacher, and a lot of people chided me for that. I explained that it was not that he was a teacher, but that I had expected the person who captured such a prize to be a professional. I don’t know why. Many of us excel at our hobbies, enough to compete with the pros, I supposed.

But what blew me away was watching him hold the attention of a gym full of young school children. He truly has a gift. Did our cameras help create the moment?

To a degree, yes. But his choosing to use this moment to instruct on gun safety, the rules of hunting safety, respect for nature, and yes, the conflict he felt when he shot the deer, was all so genuine.

One student asked a question that first comes to mind for most non-hunters. “Did you feel bad?”  His answer to the student, and to me, later? “I guess you do. It was a living organism and you have a heart. But when you respect the sport of hunting, and the animal , and you are using all the resources that animals gives you, it is rewarding at the same time.”

Steve and his wife now have a freezer full of venison, to share with friends  and family. He will mount the antlers and deer’s head in his home. He will learn, “officially” whether there really were 43 points, or only 30, this week-end.  But he will always have the moment, sitting alone in his tree-stand, when he saw the buck stumble into his sight. And he will alway have that gift of teaching.

For more on Steve, follow this link on thepittsburghchannel.com



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