Some men step into the shadows when the camera comes out. They don’t seek exposure. Usually, if you get to know those men, you find it’s just the first of many admirable characteristics.
It makes those rare pictures of the man more potent, as it takes an extraordinary situation for him to stand in front of the lens, or a request from a special person.
Steve Dancho’s grandfather, George Anthony, is one of those men. In his early teens, Dancho loved hunting, trapping, fishing and his grandfather (among others, of course). He brought home a couple trapping trophies and wanted his picture taken with George, but grandpa wasn’t having any of it.
“He hated pictures,” Dancho said. “I had a muskrat in each hand and tackled him and we laughed. After that he got a lot better about taking pictures with me. Now it’s a tradition – I always want a picture with him whenever I shoot or trap something I’m proud of, and I think now he looks forward to it, too.”
The muskrat photo was the first. What solidified the tradition was young Dancho’s quest for a piebald doe. During his first year of hunting he and his grandfather saw the multicolored whitetail and Dancho’s mind was set – he would shoot it or nothing. Turned out that year, it was nothing.
As with many young men, Dancho’s obsession grew through the spring and summer. With grandfather to help, he knew this year the white doe would be his.
“We’d do little two-man drives, with him trying to push the deer past me,” Dancho said. “About midway through the season he sat me down for a heart-to-heart talk, and asked me if I might consider shooting a different deer. He was getting tired – he always did all the work on our drives — and we had to be realistic.”
The next hunt, while his grandfather circled around the patch of timber and Dancho moved toward his designated posting position, he noticed what he thought was a white bag through the trees. The bag moved and transformed into the doe of his dreams and he didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger.
“My grandfather’s hearing is bad from a lot of loud explosions when he was in the military, so in the woods we always use hand signals. When I saw him I motioned that I’d shot one,” he said. “It was a big deal for the family. I’d talked about shooting that deer all year, and I shot it with my grandfather’s gun. I still use that gun every year. I make a mark on it every time I’m successful, and it’s got 20 or 30 marks on it now.”
And Dancho’s got the very special pictures to prove it.