Great Northern Productions

My Dream Hunt

by Craig Jacques

Larry Benoit and Craig Jacques with Larry's trophy buck
Larry Benoit and Craig Jacques with Larry's trophy buck

Growing up we all had our heroes some were athletes or movie stars but my hero was Larry Benoit the great Vermont deer hunter that chased big bucks across mountaintops in endless pursuit. Larry Benoit is now 77 years old and amazingly he’s still tracking and shooting big bucks.

This is the story of Larry’s latest buck and my dream hunt. This story actually begins 37 years ago.

I first met Larry when I was 12 years old, my first year of deer hunting. My dad and I were hunting at my Uncle Bill’s camp in Waterbury, Vermont. We were heading home after the day’s hunt when we saw a man in a green-checkered coat with a rifle slung over his shoulder, walking beside the road. My dad stopped and offered him a ride.

A half an hour later we were standing in Larry’s house. I can vividly recall, even to this day, the impressive living room of Larry and his wife Iris’s modest home. I can remember telling everyone of my visit, that if you closed your eyes and tossed your hat, it would probably land on a set of antlers. My dream was to someday hunt with Larry.

Remember that that was 37 years ago, so the room is even more impressive now. On a recent visit I counted over 100 racks on one wall and 21 head mounts on another wall. These are not all of Larry’s trophies, for he has 3 hunting sons that have contributed to this massive collection. His attic is full of racks, because he has no place left to display them.

I guess his expertise speaks for itself. With success comes jealousy and doubt. How could anyone be so successful and for so many years? How could he still be doing it at 77? I had a mission to find out and hunt with the Benoits. So beginning in 2000, I teamed up with Great Northern Productions and became one of their cameramen.

We had an extremely successful season that year but I had failed to witness Larry tracking and bagging his buck. One of our other cameramen, Tom Blais, had that privilege. My dream was yet to unfold.

2001 found us back in our favorite spot, tracking and still-hunting those elusive monster bucks. I had teamed up with Lane, Larry’s son, and had been shadowing him for the better part of a week. We saw numerous bucks, but nothing Lane wanted to tie his tag on. Shane, Larry’s youngest son, was teamed up with him.

Early one morning Lane and I decided to hunt off an old logging road where Lanny had seen the sign of a huge buck the year before. Larry and Shane were on the same logging road less than two miles away. Lane and I still hunting following deer trails when a shot rang out in the direction of Larry and Shane.

Since we were the only ones hunting on this road we figured it had to be one of them shooting. We ran back to our truck drove two miles to them and saw Shane’s truck parked beside the road. I grabbed my video camera and followed the tracks in the melting snow as best I could. I was practically running through the woods to catch up to whomever it was when I ran into Shane backtracking to the truck for his camera. Shane said Larry had just got a crack at a monster buck that they had tracked from the road.

On I went busting through the brush just in time to see Larry raise his 30-06 Remington pump. I was praying he wasn’t going to shoot before I could get the camera rolling but the bark of the rifle broke the quiet solitude of the track. As quick as the rifle went off I could see the massive buck fall. The camera was rolling but I failed to get the bullet impact. Larry had been in his infamous death creep, sneaking up on that buck, when I almost blew it for him. In my excitement to catch up to him and fulfill my boyhood dream I had darn near turned that dream into a nightmare. Walking up to Larry and together approaching that 170 B&C class buck was an experience I will cherish forever.

Now came the tough part. You’d think that would be dragging out that 250 pound (dressed weight) buck, but it was actually trying to capture the moment on film. In our excitement and adrenaline high, it was hard to calm down and think rationally. We had to think this through as to how to best capture the moment for our next video. After an hour of filming, taking still shots and dressing the deer, the four of us dragged Larry’s buck back to the truck.

While dragging the buck, I reflected back on my childhood dream and realized just how much this meant to me. I was in the presence of the “WHITETAIL KING” and loving every minute of it.

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