story by Danny Guy
Anthony Jewell, known as "A.J.," is an avid outdoorsman who lives for the weekend when he can go fishing with friends.
He works at Sportsman's Corner in town five days a week starting at 7 a.m. and never leaves before 6 p.m. A.J. runs the store by himself until his boss, Matt Kennedy, arrives in the late afternoon to inventory and close everything up.
According to A.J., he has no specialty, per se, but instead does it all. In effect, everything has become his specialty. “Most guys know guns but don’t know bows," says A.J., "and then there’s people who only get into fishing. It’s hard to get a guy who does all three.”
A.J.'s first exposure to hunting came when his father took him squirrel hunting when he was 6 years old. His father never deer-hunted and was more of a bank fisherman. “He wouldn’t go out on a boat because he couldn’t swim," A.J. recalls.
A.J. says he learned to hunt mainly by “trial and error, the hard way.” Error meaning "trying and buying things," even if he knew or was told they wouldn’t work. “I’m stubborn," says A.J. "If I think something’s not gonna work, I’m gonna try it anyway.”
"I’m not so much into hunting anymore," says A.J. "It's not like when I was younger when I would deer hunt only, and with just a bow.” He doesn’t deer hunt these days. He doesn’t know anyone to give a deer to if he were to kill one, and he isn’t into hunting for the thrill of the kill anymore. “Why shoot a deer if I gotta give it away?” A.J. says.
His wife, Lori, refuses to eat deer, “She says it stinks up the house, won’t eat it or have anything to do with it.”
A.J. likes fishing because it’s challenging, rewarding and relaxing. “I don’t like fishing; I like catching,” says A.J. "One thing about fishing is that at the end of the day, you can put them back. It’s kind of hard to catch a deer and release it.” There needs to be a purpose behind killing an animal for A.J. “A lot of older guys go back to fishing. We just don’t feel the need to kill deer like we did 20 years ago.”