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I apologize if this is in the wrong board, maybe should be posted in the Spirit of the Hunt, but that's a moderators choice.

As I get older, I have begun to look at things quite differently. I have been blessed with many things, and by many great people. Two of whom have been my father-in-law, and the second my "step" father-in-law. I guess my mother-in-law had a knack for picking great men as husbands. My father-in-law was a big, strong, burly man; son of Italian immigrants; had one of those looks that could make you squirm and cower; and another that had a twinkle in his eye that made you feel special. He died early in life, and my two children didn't really get a chance to experience him. One of the things he did share with me is the experience of a hunting camp. It was a state forest lease camp, 25 guys, heated by a 4' wide fireplace, propane lanterns for light, and a lot of smoke! But it did instill in me the love of hunting camp and the enjoyment of a cold December night around the fire. We never killed any great bucks while we were there, but it was always a good time. It was that experience that gave me the drive to get our own camp in 2015, the Gray Ghost Hunting Camp and Lodge.

My "step" father-in-law" was a tall, quiet, and caring man. Rarely had a bad word about anyone. You knew he had an opinion about all things, but you had to ask for it, he never would impose his ideas or thoughts on anyone. He was always willing to help, whether it be physically or financially, and you knew would never hold it over you. He was the grandfather on my wife's side that my two kids knew best. He was "Pap Wil", and was never thought of as a "step" relative.

Fast forward to 2014, and "Pap Wil" died at the age of 89, 16 years after my mother-in-law. When we were helping his daughter clean out the house, she found 3 sets of antlers in the garage, all just hanging on the pipes along the ceiling. She asked me if I wanted them, and naturally I said I would take them and try to do something with them. One still had the hide between the antlers and the exposed skin was already dried leather.

It took me 5 years, and finally, with the help of a local turkey call maker and artisan, we came up with a design to put all three on one plaque. When we went to mount them, we saw on the inside of the skull plate on one of the racks was written "Potter County 1967". I don't know where the others were shot, but it really doesn't matter. All we knew was that the one rack started in Potter County, went to Lycoming County, then to Clinton County, up to me in Tioga County, and now, back to Potter.

When we leave this earth, we don't take anything with us. I think as hunters and outdoorsman, we all want to leave something of a legacy behind after we are gone. The Gray Ghost Hunting Camp and Lodge will be my legacy to my children, and now, their "Pap Wil" is part of that legacy.

"...and all things come full circle."
 

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Great post! I hope I can pass on the same values to my son, and also gain a camp that I can share with him and build memories for him to remember me by!

Great story and great tribute!!
 

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Nice
 
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