I remember as a young kid, he came pulling into our driveway as I was plinking arrows into a foam deer target. He would occasionally come down to spring turkey hunt the state ground where my dad worked. I ran inside and grabbed a stack of Legendary Whitetails cards of all these giant deer pictures and pulled Mel’s out. When I returned to the driveway with a marker and his deer’s picture to sign, he gave out a deep belly laugh and proceeded to sign the picture. The following spring, he stopped by again, but this time brought with him a copy of his P&Y scoresheet and a picture of him with the deer in his garage for me. The following year, when Illinois still had check stations, I brought in my first whitetail during the 2nd season firearm. Mel had made the drive down to work it along with another of him and my dad’s friends, and was the one to check in my first deer. To most that came through, they were oblivious of his world record. My old man did seem to always get a chuckle of having people walk in and say “I think I killed a new state record”, just to see how fast he could get him outside.
As my father’s health deteriorated due to a stroke, they lost touch. It was only a couple years ago that my dad looked him up and gave him a call that led to a fairly lengthy story telling session. My dad would send him pictures of the few deer he had killed in recent years along with my bucks and pictures from recent bear and elk trips I had done, and Mel would call when he got them and more story telling would ensue. I know my dad always looked forward to these conversations.
I saw the Facebook post yesterday, and it pained me to have to share the news with my dad. RIP Mel, you’ll be missed.