Fallen monsters of Pennsylvania of Part 3: Grant Dressler
It’s hard to believe that it was 18 years ago that the Pennsylvania Game Commission first instituted antler restrictions. Although it was extremely unpopular then, nearly two decades later, some would say that the changes made have led to more and more mature bucks being harvested in the Keystone State every year. Currently, more than 50 percent of the Top 60 bucks taken in the state have been killed since 2002. I’ve tracked down some of the largest and prettiest bucks harvested in the last few seasons and the hunters who took them in order to bring you their stories in a several part series.
Part 3 takes place in Juniata county with a boy who recently proved that even an 8-year-old can kill big bucks just as easily as a seasoned pro. Grant Dressler of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, started tagging along in the deer woods with his father Bob, the previous year when he was 7. As his excitement grew for the tradition of deer hunting that’s been in his family for many generations, Grant graduated from tag-along to a mentored youth hunter in just a year.
With a new crossbow in hand, Grant and his dad hit the woods fairly hard during the 2019 archery season.
“He sat with me through probably 15 sits,” his dad Bob said. “We never sat more than five hours at one time. I just didn’t want to pressure him into all day sits and have him not enjoy it. I wanted him to enjoy hunting as much as I do and our family does. Through all that hunting, he never lost the urge to go.”
Although his dad was eventually able to bag an eight-pointer, Grant’s archery season ended with just a few close calls, but no buck.
As good dad’s often do, Bob made sure his son would be able to continue his pursuit for a buck into rifle season with the purchase of a .243– what some call the best youth caliber available. So with a new gun in hand and the quest for a buck still driving him to get into the woods, Grant set out on his first rifle hunt on opening day 2019.
“We got up really early and headed to the woods– probably like 5:30 in the morning,” Grant said.
Truth revealed, dad and grandpa were up at 4 a.m. and had a full breakfast ready by the time the 8-year-old hunter roused from his slumber. Who wouldn’t want to hunt in that family?
Just about an hour after climbing into the stand, the young man’s perseverance was about to pay off, as a buck came strolling by.
“We had pictures of some nice bucks on the property, and had some encounters with them during archery season, but this buck we had never seen before,” his dad Bob recounted.
“Not only had we not seen him before, the neighbors hadn’t seen him before either. We didn’t know he was around at all,” he added.
Bob handed his son the gun, told him to make a shot when he was settled and comfortable, took a step to the side and before he could get his binoculars up, Grant had fired a fatal shot as they watched the monster ten-pointer pile up just 40 yards later. After high-fives, hugs and about an hour wait for his grandfather to arrive, it was time to go lay eyes and hands upon his first buck.
“I think I was most excited when I saw the rack,” Grant said.
With plans for a European mount, his dad Bob found himself on his way to the butcher shop when his phone rang.
“It was my mother-in-law, and she was kind of of hot under the collar. She told me that it was his first buck and doing a bone and antler mount wasn’t going to happen,” Bob said.
So the plans proceeded, and in a few months Grant will have an everlasting display of his first monster deer with a beautiful shoulder mount.
Some men will hunt many, many years and never manage to harvest a buck quite like the one young Grant Dressler was able to take that fateful day, and his dad and grandfather continuously remind him of that.
“My dad and I have told him that he may not kill another buck like this one the rest of his life,” his father Bob recalled with a chuckle.
He might not kill another one quite like this, but a first buck is a memory that will certainly last a lifetime. Well done young Grant, well done.