Hunting is vital to Vaughn Cheslek


Vaughn Cheslek

A Picture of Vaughn, his brother, and the buck they took down together

Hunting is undoubtedly an American pastime largely enjoyed by the population. Junior Vaughn Cheslek is not an exception to this tradition: he started his hunting journey at the ripe age of two years old. 

Hunting isn’t just an American tradition to Vaughn, but it’s also a family tradition he is more than jovial to participate in. His dad introduced him to the hobby, and now, he relishes quality time with his grandparents, little brothers, and his dad through hunting. Even if they were not hunting in a conventional manner, they thoroughly basked in the time spent. 

“[My brothers] started hunting quite a bit after I did,” Vaughn said. “I had been going up since I was really young, and then they came up when they were maybe seven or eight. We got BB guns around that time, and we would shoot them in the backyard at squirrels and stuff. Our dog was always really excited when we got our BB guns out because it meant we would go hunt, and we would always go hunt when we were up [at our property] even if it was just hitting targets or shooting bows in the backyard.” 

This family tradition goes back generations: Vaughn, his siblings, and his many cousins are more than thrilled to continue the family custom, even if it is slightly varied from the original. As such, routines change, and so did this praxis. There used to be a second layer to the tradition—a whole holiday spent hunting. 

“We are just kind of raised on hunting; it’s a tradition to go hunting,” Vaughn said. “[Hunting is] not anything you force on anyone to do; if you don’t want to do it, then you don’t have to do it, but everyone always wants to do it. After Thanksgiving, I remember my dad used to always go up and hunt. I heard this story a year or two ago before my parents got married. My mom had her Thanksgiving with her family all the time. My dad’s side didn’t do that; the guys went up and just had a crappy thanksgiving dinner [while hunting] up at the lodge. All the ladies in our family hung out at the same time, but my mom didn’t like it so now we always have a huge family thanksgiving.”

It is obvious enough that Vaughns’s family holds much rapport when it comes to shikar. Hunting down their game is a passion transferred to Vaughn. 

Many years ago it was once a necessity to hunt because it was an imperative way to gain food for you and your family. Another way was to gather your food rather than hunt it. If someone had to classify Vaughn in one of those categories, he is a hunter through and through. 

“Honestly, I like having a record of being a good shot,” Vaughn said. “Also, the deer meat tastes really good. Having venison isn’t something everyone can do, so it makes me feel really thankful whenever we get to eat what we shot. This last year, we didn’t shoot any deer at all, which isn’t what we usually do—we usually get plenty. I hated buying meat from the store for a year.”

Vaughn is determined to take down at least one deer a year, whether or not he was the one to shoot it. Sometimes teamwork is required to take down a large and stubborn buck, but the meat tastes the same, or sometimes, even better. 

I mean, we are just kind of raised on hunting; it’s a tradition to go hunting”

— Vaughn Cheslek

“My favorite memory is probably [from] just this last year when my brother and I tag-teamed a buck,” Vaughn said. “[My brother] shot it first, but it started running, and we weren’t sure if he hit it, so I shot at it second, and then it went down. Then, we went to go get it, and it was a nice eight-point.” 

Although Vaughn vividly remembers the bonding moment he and his brother shared, he does not recall his early years of hunting. Back when it was simply two-year-old Vaughn and his dad, many pictures were taken, and all are looked back on. 

“I don’t really know [why I started hunting so young],” Vaughn said. “And, I don’t even really remember many of my hunting [experiences from] when I was younger; most of it I just relive through pictures. There is a picture of my dad and me when he got a buck [when] I was like two years old, and it was a nice big buck. I was over there smiling with its blood on my hands”.

Hunting is a vital part of Vaughns’s life, and it has been from the beginning. 

Not every moment hunting is stocked in his memory, but Vaughn is grateful for each and every second he gets to partake in a hunt. It is more than a hobby for him. It is a connection to his family, and his proclivity to choose hunting is not to come to an end any time in the future. 

“Yeah, for sure [I will hunt when I’m older],” Vaughn said. “There is nothing that I can foresee that would stop me from wanting to hunt, or from being able to.”