Tag Archives: Kenny Roberts

Things Change While Anticipation of the Hunt Remains

Things are different now. Some parts are better, some are … well, different.

I was able to catch up with my buddy Nick Pinizzotto today, and we spent a good deal of time talking about the evolution of our hunting passion.

the view

In a little more than a week, I’ll be enjoying the familiar view from the woods with bow in hand!

Days of worrying about how big the buck might be on the receiving end of an Easton arrow have been replaced more by the full nature of the experiences.

That’s not to say that we don’t dream of big bucks, or that the experiences of yesteryear weren’t important. It’s just that the priority is … well, different!

Nick, who also serves as the Executive Director of the National Deer Alliance, recently moved back to his home stomping grounds in Pennsylvania. He became a father a couple of year’s back. Both of those life changes have an innate ability to change perspective on the true values of hunting. We spoke at length about the eagerness of hunting with our kids – how that trumps any time we spend in the

fun in blind

Having a little fun in the blind while waiting on deer can be an acceptable practice these days!

woods on our own.

I’ll be returning to my own home land in Western New York in just a week to spend several quality days looking for the biggest, oldest and baddest buck on the farm. The likelihood of seeing a buck soaring near the minimum Boone & Crockett standards are very low. I know that going in, but my excitement to get there couldn’t be much greater.

For starters, I don’t take the hunting part quite as serious. I still work hard and put in my time, but saying that is more of an indictment on how serious I used to take deer hunting.

nap in blind

So too can taking a brief cat nap!

Additionally, my new career has me headed to the woods during the heart of the rut without the backdrop of serious end-of-season stress that my former job at NASCAR provided. I’ll be able to dedicate my energy to the daily chess match with the land, trying to execute a strategy that puts me within reach of taking a great deer.

This trip also means so much due to the fellowship with my dear friend, Kenny Roberts. We’ve made this trip together for over a decade and it serves as our opportunity to catch up on family, friends, parents and life. Over the years, there have certainly been more laughs than tears during those conversations. That said, there always is some time earmarked to get serious about life and chat through many of the important stuff in each of our lives.


Greg Johnston with NYS’s No. 1 muzzleloader buck in 2017!

It’s likely I’ll be able to see another friend and frequent AHT contributor Greg Johnston, who 21 years ago joined me as the renegade who would skip out of classes at our Basilian Catholic college to chase bunnies and deer all over Western New York. Just seeing Greg is always enough to get you excited.

Just as special for this trip, though, is the land. I love it on our family farm. I took it too much for granted as a young hunter. It’s hard, as a teenager, to understand that very few have the opportunity to leave school, grab their bow and get into a tree before dark. I thoroughly cherish my time spent in those woods now. Those woods shaped me more than I can easily explain.

Here’s to the challenging week ahead that will be anchored with anticipation. I can’t wait for the journey there, the cabin upon arrival, the time together with friends while I’m there. I can’t wait to get into a stand and steal a small part of that magical time during November when the rut is in full swing.

Come to think of it, maybe not everything is different now.


At the Tip of the Sword.

By Kenny Roberts
AHT Contributor

Each year, as we approach the Memorial Day holiday, my thoughts turn to those who have served in the military for our country and those who gave the “last full measure of devotion” (as delivered by Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 1863, Gettysburg, Penn.).

The Red, White and Blue

There may be more sacred holidays – I certainly will not question that. However, I truly believe that the Memorial Day holiday is a special time and that we as Americans should take some of it to reflect on the true meaning.

As outdoorsman and hunters, I think we as a whole hold a great appreciation for our military and those who make the sacrifice to preserve our freedom. Maybe it is the camouflage clothing, the weapons that our military personnel carry, the utilization of cover in military tactics or event the weather elements that they endure; whatever the reasoning is – we generally hold our military personnel in great regard.

Many years ago my brother-in-law, Richard Fasnacht, and me took my nephew Kevin Green to my hunt club for an afternoon of target shooting with my Marlin .22. Kevin was probably 7- or 8-years old at the time. After discussing the importance of gun safety and getting Kevin familiar with the rifle, we placed a couple of aluminum cans 15 yards from our shooting location and gave Kevin the o.k. to “fire-at-will.”

Kevin settled the stock against his shoulder, acquired the target in the scope and deliberately and safely released the safety mechanism.

He focused his attention and the crosshairs of the scope on the aluminum can and after numerous seconds of concentration, he pulled the trigger. The can rattled as the bullet passed through it. We placed another cartridge in the chamber of the rifle and the same sequence occurred over-and-over again.

Kevin never once pulled the trigger until he was fully confident that the target was centered in the crosshairs. The delay between acquiring the target and the report of the rifle seemed like an eternity to us veteran shooters who were standing behind him. Can after can fell to the ground as the bullets ripped through them.

The next fall Kevin joined my duck-hunting mentor, Bill Valentine, and me on a morning duck hunt in Richmond Hill, Ga.

Kevin was still too young to handle a shotgun and he had yet completed his hunter safety course, so he simply hid along the creek bank while Bill and I scratched out a few wood ducks. Although he was not “hunting” with us, he was there and seemed to enjoy the camaraderie and watching the sun come up over our little duck-hole.

Several years later, Richard and I accompanied Kevin on his first deer hunt in eastern North Carolina. No deer were harvested, but several were spotted and I recall one in particular that ran by fairly close to our position. As the small buck passed by, Richard instructed Kevin to not take the shot due to the distance and the probability of not making a humane kill. Even though extremely excited, Kevin did not question the advice or decision.

The next year, Richard and I once again took Kevin deer hunting on property in Alamance County, NC. I placed Kevin in a ladder stand at the base of my feet on a cold November morning prior to sunrise.

As the sun peaked over the horizon and the anticipation of primetime deer movement approached, Kevin turned over his shoulder to me and informed me that he felt as if he was going to be sick. Seconds later, his premonition came true and we exited the stand and went back to the truck for a little heat and an hour-long nap. Apparently the excitement of the moment, in the deer stand – one of the most productive deer stands I have hunted from, his two uncles with him and the anticipation of harvesting his first deer were more than his young nerves could handle.

You simply cannot put a price tag on that type of excitement and enthusiasm that he showed that morning.

Kevin (third from left) joined Kurt, Dave and his Uncle Kenny on Ossabaw Island for wild hog hunts

Our next great hunting adventure with Kevin was our hog hunting trip to Ossabaw Island, Ga. My brother, Ronny, my good buddies Kurt Culbert and Dave Casey “allowed” Kevin to join our fraternity of hog hunters on the island (a.k.a. the Hat Creek Pig Company). This is a high-intensity, powder-burning hunt!

Hogs are numerous and around each bend or in each slough you encounter, hogs that are found are met by a large number of gun reports!

Obviously, safety is of utmost importance and that point was stressed over-and-over again with Kevin. Throughout the trip, though, Kevin handled himself as if he was a seasoned hunter. And at no time did he violate any of the golden rules of hunting gun safety! Around the evening campfire, he was just another one of the guys and he fit right into our little band of brothers.

Kevin participating in PT as part of the Jr. ROTC

Hunting, and the outdoor lifestyle in general, afford us an excellent opportunity to mentor our youth and teach them many life skills. My hunting and fishing companions are not randomly selected, nor is it based on what opportunities they may provide me in the field. They are role models – people I trust and people that I would allow my own child to be under their supervision. They are people that I knew would have a positive impact on my nephew.

Now I would like to clarify something very important: My hunting companions or I will not take any credit for the man that Kevin has grown to become. That credit goes to his most important mentors, his mother and father.

Kevin, along with his parents Jeanie and Randy (and niece), at his recent graduation

I would simply like to say “thank you” to Randy and Jeannie for allowing us (and I think I can speak for Richard, Bill, Ronny, Kurt and Dave) the opportunity to expose Kevin to the lifestyle that we so dearly appreciate. It was our honor and privilege to have Kevin join us on these hunting trips and adventures. We look forward to them continuing for many years in the future.

I am extremely proud as both an uncle, and an American, to report that our hunting buddy Kevin Green graduated from Army basic training at Fort Benning, Ga. on March 2, 2012.

Kevin Green, 101st Airborne Div., 1st Brigade Combat Team (1 BCT “Bastogne”), 327th Inf. Regiment

Kevin is now stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, with the 101st Airborne Div., 1st Brigade Combat Team (1 BCT “Bastogne”), 327th Inf. Regiment.

Allow me to quote a passage from the Soldier’s Creed: “I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life. I AM AN AMERICAN SOLDIER.”

It is comforting to know that at the tip of the sword of our country’s military forces are fine young men and women like Kevin Green!

Earning an Outdoors Degree

Some degrees in academia take two years, some take four. Apparently, getting your degree in the outdoors takes a heckuva lot more than that.

I’m still seeking my diploma in the Outdoors (concentration whitetails) after more than 20 years in search of America’s most sought-after game animal.

Can you find the buck in this screen shot? This buck played the role of teacher last week in my search for an outdoors degree.

And this week was another lesson that professor Nature provided, leaving me as a stumped pupil hoping to not make the same mistake twice.

My hunting buddy Kenny and I made our near-annual trip to Western New York to chase whitetails with bow and arrow. It was its normally fantastic trip, yet neither of us were able to connect with a giant northern deer. I came the closest, yet never flung an arrow thanks to a minor hiccup by your faithful veteran blogger.

Let me set the scene.

It was chilly – a crisp morning with temperatures locked in the mid 20s. For any deer hunter who relies on their senses for how good a hunt could turn out, you would understand when I say it felt like a “deery” morning. Shortly after 9 a.m. I noticed a single doe standing in the woods. I decided to video her.

Shortly after I hit the record button, she made the all-too familiar glance behind her that signaled she was not alone. Was it a buck? I noticed another three deer walking toward her and figured those deer were the subject of her interest. I kept the video recording.

It was then that I heard the sound of a buck making a single, quick grunt. I quickly transitioned into hunter mode, pushing my camera arm out of the way in exchange for a clear lane to draw my bow. I kept the video camera recording, but the it was pointed at the tree I was perched in. As I reached to the other side of the tree for my bow, I could hear deer running toward me – a clear sign that this buck was bumping at least one of the does. In just a few short seconds, several deer went from 60 yards behind me, to being within 15-25 yards of my treestand.

By the time I turned back around with bow in hand, a doe and the buck were glancing my direction. I was busted. And he was a shooter – A chocolate-horned heavy eight-point with an “ain’t happening” stare.

I knew my opportunity was gone. There would be no way to get my bow drawn and make an effective shot on the buck at that point. I decided to reach for my camera arm and try to steer it toward the buck to catch video of him before the doe and he took off. I was able to capture just a couple short moments of video. And it was over.

I knew at that point, because our trip to NY was so short, that this might be my last opportunity at a good buck this year with my bow. And a rookie mistake of not anticipating a possible buck being with those does ended up costing me.

Lesson learned. And there will be many more before this hunter receives his diploma.

The Ultimate Hunt

By Kenny Roberts
Guest Contributor

Have you ever considered what your ultimate hunt would be? I think each of us who are true hunters has spent many hours daydreaming about such a hunt, whatever it might be. Would your ultimate hunt be a whitetail hunt in Saskatchewan waiting for one of those Canadian bruiser bucks to appear? Or would it be in Iowa, Illinois or Kansas?

Pop's Model 94 Winchester, purchased in 1950, and the hat he was wearing when he passed away 10 years ago.

How about a flooded timber hunt around Stuttgart, Arkansas, for Mallards and other species of ducks? Maybe you have dreamed of hunting elk in New Mexico, big horn sheep in Montana, or possibly a grizzly bear hunt in Alaska?

It took me nearly 40 years to figure out what my ultimate hunt would be, and the surprising revelation is that I have already been on that hunt! Although I still dream of the chance to go on new and exciting hunts for a variety of animal species and waterfowl, none of these hunts will compare to my ultimate hunt.

My ultimate hunt started about 4 a.m. in the fall of 1971 when my dad (we called him Pop) said, “Get up boy, it’s time to go” as he shook me awake. Since I was the runt of his three “boys” I am certain that he started with me and worked his way up by age to my oldest brother. I slowly arose from my warm bed and began putting on every stitch of clothing I could find, including several layers of athletic socks and the same brogan-style shoes that I wore to school everyday.

Pop's 1970-71 Hunting and Big Game Licenses

I didn’t own any camouflage clothing or hunting boots, so it was whatever was available (and hopefully warm) that could be worn in layers. My two brothers and I piled into Pop’s 1966 Chevy Impala and we headed east towards Uwharrie National Forest. Somewhere between Charlotte and Albemarle, Pop found an AM radio station that was playing a Jerry Clower comedy skit. For those of you not familiar with, or have never heard of Yazoo City, Miss.’s, most famous resident; you’ve missed out on some good ole’ southern culture. After a few Jerry Clower stories about one of the Ledbetter brothers and somewhere between Albemarle and Troy, NC, we stop at a restaurant for breakfast. No socialite would be caught near this choke-and-puke establishment, but it’s the perfect place to fill your belly before a day in the woods. Everyone excluding the waitress, the cook and of course me; are wearing camouflage and the place was packed with other hunters. Years later I thought about this scene, and I could only imagine how proud Pop must have been to walk into this restaurant with his three boys trailing behind him.

Although the years to come would prove more stressful for him and our mother, one thing is for sure: At least they knew where their boys would be every Saturday during the fall!

After a quick breakfast of grits, eggs, sausage and toast, we are back in the Impala for the final leg of the trip. We finally arrive at our hunting destination and immediately begin preparing for the hunt. Pop leads us into the woods a couple hundred yards or so and instructs me and my brother Ronny (two years my senior) to sit at the base of a tree till he and our brother Wendell (four years older than me) return. Ronny and I will hold down the centerline of this deer assault, while Pop and Wendell take the left and right flanks.

Pop in the United States Marine Corp Reserves (circa 1953/1954)

Of course Ronny and my chance at successfully harvesting a buck are greatly reduced due to the fact that we do not have a gun! It is a minor detail – at least we are hunting.

We were left in charge of the most important element of the hunt: The survival food, which consisted of candy bars, crackers and apples. Unfortunately for the other members of our hunting party, we completely decimated every morsel by 10 a.m.

Ronny and I sat at the base of this tree in the dark for several hours; actually it is probably only 10-15 minutes, but it felt like an eternity. We are a little scared and a lot cold! About mid-morning Pop and Wendell return with no buck to show for their efforts. Is it any wonder with Ronny and I ripping open candy bar wrappers; crunching on crackers and all the other noise we surely created? At that age I had only assumed that they must have walked 5 or 6 miles away, but I know now that Pop was certainly in eyesight of us. If you think our chance at success was greatly reduced by not having a gun, what about his? An 8 and 10-year old sitting in the woods with a gunny sack full of goodies.

In those days there were not nearly as many deer as there are today in the Piedmont of NC and those that might have been in our vicinity that morning were now three counties away.

Pop had always been an avid deer hunter and he continued hunting till his death in November of 2000. One thing for sure about Pop, when he hunted, he liked to walk around and explore the woods. The mid-morning till noon hunt consisted of walking over each hill or mountain we encountered to “see what was on the other side.” This was one of the most enjoyable parts of the ultimate hunt; we got to stretch our legs and the walking warmed our chilled bones. More importantly to an 8-year-old; I was walking in a wilderness and over each hill I expected to see a Grizzly bear, a mountain lion or just maybe, a whitetail deer! I can still vividly smell the damp fall leaves lying on the ground, feel the warmth of the sun as it peeked over the mountain to our east and see the beautiful trees and rock outcroppings that we passed. It was an amazing place for an 8-year-old to spend a Saturday during the fall of 1971.

After a couple of hours of wandering around and examining every holler and hill, we made our way back to the car. Since all of the food was gone, we would find our way to a little general store and resupply the gunny sack.

The early afternoon was spent lounging around in the warm sun, drinking a Pepsi Cola and eating a moon-pie and dreaming about the buck that we would see later that afternoon. The afternoon hunt was so much more comfortable; it was warmer and us unarmed hunters could see everything around us, which allowed for more concentration on spotting a deer as opposed to worrying about who or what was going to come out from the shadows to get us. As the afternoon light faded behind the mountains, Pop and Wendell returned to the base camp and reported no sightings of deer in the area. Oh well, we’ll get one next time!

Our hunting machine (the Impala) is brought to life and it is time for the journey home. After waking up at 4 a.m. and an all-day hunt and walk in the woods, coupled with the heat that finally filters into the back seat of the car where I sit; I quickly fall asleep and begin dreaming about the next hunt. In today’s society they recommend that if you take a child hunting or fishing, you need to keep it exciting and hopefully successful, so that the child does not become bored or discouraged. We continued to take these hunting trips in the years to come and rarely if ever did we see a deer, much less harvest one. It was several years later when my oldest brother harvested his first deer and 10 years later before Ronny took his first. Once again, being the runt of the boys, it was only fitting that I was the last to take a deer – a mere 18 years later in 1989.

Although these early hunting trips did not result in any deer being harvested, they were the most exciting and enjoyable times in my youth. Successful? Oh yeah, they were successful in only the ways a true hunter can understand. They taught us patience, perseverance, how to enjoy the simple things such as a sunrise, the view from a mountain top and the pure enjoyment of an outdoor lifestyle. We were not discouraged or disappointed that we did not harvest a deer. It simply fueled our passion for hunting that much stronger. We learned to appreciate and enjoy the sport of hunting, before we learned how to hunt and before we started harvesting any deer.

Although I have never hunted in any exotic locations or in any of the “prime” locations for any species, I have harvested numerous deer, including several with my trusty PSE bow. I’ve killed my share of squirrels, quail, doves, ducks and several wild hogs. And so many of those trips have resulted in lifelong memories and friendships. However, if the stars were aligned just perfectly and God would grant me the ultimate hunt tomorrow, I know exactly where I would go and who I would go with. The hunt would start with, “Get up boy, it’s time to go.”


Ted S. “Pop” Roberts passed away 10 years ago today, Nov. 28, 2000. I would like to dedicate my simple words of reflection to his memory and to all the fathers, mothers, uncles and family friends who dedicate the time and effort to take their children or other children hunting or fishing.

Thanks Pop! I hope you and Fred Bear are enjoying the “big hunt.”