BURGETTSTOWN, Pa. — Tyler Young is walking back to the scene of the kill. It’s a frigid morning in the woods, less than 25 miles to the west of Pittsburgh, and he is a blaze of neon orange against a white backdrop, with a thousand-dollar rifle jutting off his back. As he reaches into his pocket to show what brought down a 170-pound doe, the 30.06 shell drops to the ground. He immediately bends down and scrabbles in the thick snow to retrieve it. Young and his stepfather, Bill Young, have used the same box of shells for 10 years, ritualistically refilling them, and this one cannot be lost.
What you could almost call spirituality is much of what matters in hunting to Tyler Young, who is 23 but looks barely old enough to need a razor. He first hit the woods at 12, bonding with his outdoors-loving stepfather, and has bagged one deer nearly every year since. A deer will keep the family in steaks and chops and chili for the winter. They prize the meat, he says, for the “pride in eating something you killed or claimed.”