“It felt like my father was there,” Botelho said, describing the early morning moment on Nov. 29 when a 9-point buck came into view.
Botelho took his time squeezing the trigger, just like his dad, Lou Botelho, had taught him. And using his father’s Belgian-made Browning Light 12 shotgun he brought down the giant, 188-pound buck with a slug that was also his father’s.
“I couldn’t even talk,” Botelho said during a recent interview at the Dunkin’ on County Street in Taunton near Route 24.
Botelho, an avid hunter and longtime resident of Dighton who now lives in Swansea, treasures the fall days of deer season.
The buck is at the taxidermist now. The points on a buck are the individual tines of the buck’s antlers.
Botelho said he plans to hang the trophy in a place of honor at his family’s Vermont cabin, dubbed Pappa’s Ridge. It’s on land where the elder Botelho used to go hunting, the son said.
Lou Botelho died in May 2021 from cancer, his son said.
“It was pretty amazing,” Botelho said. “The buck I shot was standing in front of me at 80 yards, like a gift.”
State wildlife experts confirm how special this deer was. The buck was in the 99th percentile for weight for deer harvested in the Bay State each year, according to Martin Feehan, leader for MassWildlife’s Deer and Moose Project.
On the morning of the successful hunt, which took place in Swansea, Botelho was with family and friends. Among them was Stevie Adams, who has been featured in the Gazette previously for his own prize deer hunts. Botelho and Adams have hunted together for decades. Adams said hunting traditions are important parts of their lives.
Properly managed deer hunting keeps forests healthy, an expert with the state’s Division of Fisheries and Wildlife told the MetroWest Daily News.
MassWildlife says hunters play a key role in keeping deer at the desired population density across the state. A recent report by the Boston Globe noted that suburban deer populations have risen well above 18 deer per square mile. That’s the threshold at which deers’ browsing of saplings and seedlings harms the forest.
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