knows for sure how long the dust-covered old deer head had
been resting against a forgotten corner in the barn. Because
of its sheer size and magnificence, though, it’s a good bet
that it once occupied a proud place of prominence on the
hunter’s home --possibly on the den wall or over the
hearth. But nothing stays the same forever. At some point
probably after the old hunter who took this magnificent
buck had gone on to his reward, the splendid trophy was
relegated to a place of lesser prominence in the barn.
There it remained for decades.
Kim Zambon of Rhinelander, Wisconsin, has vivid boyhood
recollections of seeing the old trophy in a corner of the
barn. As a youngster of 10 or 12, he often played in the
barn where the forgotten deer head had wound up. The buck
had been killed near Rhinelander by Kim’s grandfather
George Blaesing probably in the mid 1920s.
Kim, now 52, is the third-generation owner of Holiday Acres, a summer
resort near Rhinelander. After he grew up,
he had no
special reason to think about the old deer head for the next
40 odd years. But that changed in the fall of 2003. While
cleaning out the barn one day, there it was, in all its
moth eaten glory!
While the impressive non-typical antlers were still intact and in decent
shape, the old mount was in pretty rough condition. One eye
was missing and the deer’s chin had been chewed away by
rodents. Not being a deer hunter himself but living in an
area where the hunting tradition is as old as the ice age
artifacts that are still sometimes unearthed. Kim showed
the sad old deer head to a good friend, Ward Britz, who
works at Holiday Acres, Blaesing’s closest hunting
companions. Since Ward does happen to be an avid
hunter, he reacted with a typical White Tail fanatic’s
“low-key” response. “He freaked out.” Kim says. “He had
to come out of the barn after looking at the rack because he
said he was getting
weak- kneed. He told me I had
to do something with it because it was so incredibly large.”
emotions, Kim decided to have the old heirloom remounted so
that he could hang it in the restaurant at Holiday Acres as
a tribute to his grand-father.
In July, 2004, he also had the vintage rack officially scored
by local B&C measurer Arlyn Loomans. With a total of
20 scorable antler points and over 30 inches in abnormal
points, the beautiful drip-tined rack tallied up a
non-typical B&C score of 206 4/8.
George Blaesing moved to the Rhinelander area in 1924.
Originally from Milwaukee, George started coming up to
northern Wisconsin to cut Christmas trees in 1922. The
trees were taken back to Milwaukee and sold during the
holiday season. During his second year of cutting trees, he
met his future wife. Born in 1903, Kim’s grandmother was
raised on a farm where some of the Christmas trees were cut. It
was love at first sight. After a whirlwind romance, George
and Hazel were married the following spring. They remained
in the area and started a summer resort, Blaesing Shorewood
Vista, overlooking a picturesque lake. Under what was
commonly referred to as the “American Plan” in those days,
city folks from Green Bay and Milwaukee rented small
cottages at the resort for their summer vacations. They
participated in warm weather sporting activities like
boating and fishing.
If George had fallen head-over-heels in love with his new bride,
Hazel, he also fell in love with the area where she lived.
After the heavy logging of virgin timber that had taken
place throughout northern Wisconsin around the turn of the
century, vast cutover areas were now beginning to regenerate
into second growth forests. This made for some prime
became an avid deer hunter. As mentioned, he and Pinkie
Fritz often hunted together. Not much is known about how
George once-in-a-lifetime buck was taken. Judging from old
family photos that sill exist, however, George and Pinkie
successful seasons of chasing wily Wisconsin whitetails.
George and Hazel sold the resort in 1947. Now operating
under the name of Miller’s Shorewood Vista and owned by
Kim’s second cousin, the resort is still going strong today.
George Fredrickson, another avid hunter who lives close by,
notes that several drop-tined bucks have been killed in the
area during the past 25 years. He says they have an amazing
resemblance to George Blaesing’s non-typical. “There’s a
definite genetic link to the old days.” George insists.
George’s dad, grandfather and uncles all hunted with George
Blaesing in and around Oneida County. George remembers
seeing the old mount when he, too, was a boy. “I have some
great boyhood memories of doing deer drives through the
swamps with all my relatives,” George says. “Back then,
everyone hunted in family groups. It was a tradition. A
lot of people had hunting shacks on county land, and deer
season was a big annual event.”
It is believed that George Blaesing’s buck was killed around 1925,
when the Wisconsin deer season ran Dec 1-15th. The hunting regulations posted a limit on one buck per
season, six to a camp, and a legal buck had to have two or
more points on one antler.
“Everyone hunted with Winchester 30-30s in those days.” Ward Britz
fact, I still have two of my grandfather’s old Winchester
lever-actions. One is an 1896, and the other is a 1907
model. One has and octagonal barrel, the other
has a round barrel. Both are 30-30s. I believe my
grandfather bought one of the very first 30-30s ever made.
Before the advent of the 30-30 cartridge, Winchesters came
in a variety of calibers.
“When I was a boy, Ward continues, “someone found a set of shed
antlers that very closely resemble those of George
Blessing's buck. I asked them if I could have the antlers,
and they gave them to me. I still have them today.”
Blaesing's amazing trophy was unwittingly abandoned and
neglected for a time, Kim Ambon is doing his best
to make proper
restitution. The great deer head now fittingly occupies a
place of prominence in the restaurant at Holiday Aces. Hopefully, neither the great drop-tined buck nor Kim’s
grandfather will ever be forgotten. Next time you’re in
Rhinelander area, go by Holiday Acres and pay your respects!