The year was 1963. Ray, Alice, and their three month old baby, (Raymond Jr.) left Connecticut to spend Thanksgiving weekend in Vermont at Ray's Aunt Mary's house. Ray's grandmother was there and came to him telling him that this was the day he would never forget. She didn't know why, only that she believed it to be true. She had no idea of the legacy her words would create.
The day was snowy, wet, stormy and the kind of day many hunters would just stay inside at home drinking coffee and awaiting a better day. With his new .32 Winschester Special he headed to his favorite runway just east of an old dugway road. He had not yet fired the model 94 rifle and was unsure as to its accuracy. Reaching the bottom of the ridge he'd have to climb over, Ray heard a gunshot, realizing he was not the only hunter out on this day. Making it to the top of the ridge where he knew it was likely the deer would go, if there was one, the 22 year old hunter saw a flash coming through the trees. He saw the antlers first on the trophy buck and the rifle came up. He squeezed the trigger, not really aiming, but just seeing brown on the sight. Nearly missing the prize, the bullet entered the backbone of the animal, severing the spinal chord and the deer crashed to the ground so hard one antler on the seven point buck was chipped from the fall. His grandmother had been right. This was a day he'd never forget.
Ray had Alice stand beside the deer as he took a picture. The deer dwarfed the woman in size as the deer hung from a tree. Resting the butt of the weapon on the ground and gripping the barrel, she stood beside her husband's prize as he took the picture. Saving the antlers and the feet a gun rack was made, and as the stories were told over the years, it was said that the meat of this monster buck was as tender as could be.
Unfortunately, through time, moving from place to place, Raymond Jr and his 4 siblings, Willie, Renee, Jeff and Matt, grew up and and the rack no longer hung on the wall. The stories became less told and this trophy buck seemed forgotten.
Several decades after the fall of this trophy buck, Raymond Jr. looked into his father's eyes one day and said, "dad, whatever happened to the antlers?" His father's eye's watered as he said the antlers were broken, the feet were missing, and that it was no big deal. It was a big deal to his son, and he made a promise to himself to re-awaken the thoughts of the greatest deer story he had ever heard. The story of the biggest deer his dad had ever harvested was on the year of his birth, and the legacy must continue.
A friend, Rick Felion, shot a 9 point buck nearly the same size as Ray's buck. Raymond Jr. asked if he could have the feet, and Rick said of course. He brought the feet to a taxidermist along with the antlers and a placque he made to mount the antlers to. The man fixed the antlers up to their original look, and the project was nearly completed by December. Finding the old warn out picture of Alice standing beside the deer, Raymond Jr. took it to a photography specialist and had it restored. The picture was mounted between the anlters and the feet and the project was finished.
Appearing at his dad's house on Christmas morning, Raymond presented the gift to his father and the older man's tears fell over his smiling cheeks as he remembered that cold and blustery day in 1963. "Son, that's beautiful. I have no words."
"Yes you do dad. And I know that story by heart."
On July 1, 2009, Ray Mallette Sr. passed away. His youngest son Matthew, and his wife Tina rescued the trophy from the house and Renee retrieved the piece while in Vermont for the funeral. Raymond Jr. couldn't make the funeral due to many complications and his one request had been to make sure that trophy was safe. Renee did so, and the story lives on in these words I'm writing now. 47 years and many deer to my hunting resume, I have still not had the privelege of breaking my father's record, and the legacy continues. A book will be written that will go with the rack and for generations to come, the story that had been forgotten for years will be told many times. The story of Ray Mallette Sr.'s Trophy Buck.