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Special Friendships by Joe Allegretti

October 6, 2011 by  
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Special Friendships

It all began with a conversation in the car on the way to our daughters’ softball game; Steve Manser and I were coaches on the team, and, during the drive, we were discussing Steve’s annual family deer hunt in Lacona, Iowa.  The following season, Steve invited me to Iowa; I jumped at the opportunity, having hunted mule deer in California and Utah, but never having hunted whitetails.  The year was 2006.

I had a great time, was “voted” in to the group and asked back the following season.  In 2007, Steve didn’t get drawn for a tag, but he went back to Iowa anyway, partly to see his family, partly because he promised me he would since I did draw a tag.  Steve didn’t hunt, but he did follow us around, and of course participated in all of the after-hunt activities.  His beloved Uncle Dave joined us on that trip as well, even though he hadn’t been drawn either.  A month later, my good friend Steve, and his Uncle Dave would suffer fatal heart attacks a week apart.  Needless to say, the Manser family and friends were devastated.

Steve’s family invited me back in 2008.  I felt like these people were my own family and, even though I wouldn’t be going with my friend, I went back to Iowa.  It turned out that my going back to Iowa was part of the healing process, not only for me, but for all of Steve’s family.  They were there to celebrate the lives of Steve and Uncle Dave.  They told me how important my being there was for them.  Perhaps Steve’s hunting legacy lived on through me and they identified with that.

In 2009, I again returned to Lacona, to hunt with the Manser family members.  On my last day of hunting, a small spike buck came upon me and stopped.  For a moment, I considered shooting him, but, remembering we were after big bucks, I watched him trot by, only to have him stop again when he got past me.   Then, three large bodied deer came running towards me full-tilt.  The lead deer was a decent 10 pointer.  Fixated on the lead buck, I shot twice, missing both times.  The second deer was a doe.  I then noticed the third deer, a very large buck with a massive rack.  I shot once, and tumbled the buck in its tracks.  I couldn’t believe it.  I had shot my wall-hanger.  I would later learn that Steve’s brother, TJ, had seen the deer come out of the trees; being out of shotgun range, TJ ran at the bucks to keep them from crossing the road.  He ran them right to me.

When the taxidermist came by to pick up the cape, he asked me if I had married a Manser, assuming I must have married into the family to be included in the hunting group.  I simply said I was a good friend of Steve Manser’s and this is my other family.

Joe Allegretti



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