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A nostalgic deer hunt

When 14-year-old John Joseph connected this season on a fine 8-pointer in the mountains overlooking Lake George, the moment was significant on a host of levels.

Not only was it John's first buck and the continuation of a tremendous sporting heritage in his family - it also was a tribute to a man whose life was cut short far too early - John's uncle Adam who died at age 21.

That's because John shot his buck within yards of where Adam connected on a 190-pound, 9-pointer - his largest ever.

"John's buck brought back a lot of memories," said Clarence Burt, Adam's father and John's grandfather and hunting mentor.

"It meant a heck of a lot to me - to have John get his first and to get it so near where my own boy shot his biggest."

A photo of Adam's buck graces his gravestone, Clarence said.

"I know Adam would have been proud to see John get that buck," he said.

Also significant was the fact that John - a sophomore at Warrensburg Central School - dropped the buck with a single shot from Adam's old 35 Marlin. The gun had been passed down from Clarence's father to him, then Adam, and finally to John.

"Hunting runs in my family, and I wanted to continue that by passing the gun on to John," Clarence said.

Indeed, the sporting heritage certainly runs in the Burt family blood.

Clarence has been hunting the same country along Lake George's west shore for nearly 50 years. In that time he's hung 41 racks on the wall.

His son Adam tallied five bucks himself before his untimely death in 1997.

While they've had their share of success - it hasn't come easily. Leaving the truck before daylight, Clarence's crew hikes almost two hours before putting on the first drive.

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