Crouched over the carcass of his first deer, 14-year-old Eli Bone pumped his fist and exclaimed, "The legacy is complete!"
With one shot from a 49-year-old rifle, the St. Albans youngster became the last of his generation to kill a deer with what could be described as "the family deer slayer."
Eli's grandfather, Ted Bone, purchased the .30-06 caliber Remington 742 in 1962, and killed his first deer with it shortly afterward.
When Ted's sons John and Jim became old enough to hunt, Ted established a family tradition: He would loan the rifle to each sibling, and as soon as one killed his first deer he would pass the gun to the other and buy a rifle of his own.
John and Jim killed their deer, bought their rifles, and sent the Remington back into retirement.
When John's three sons approached deer-hunting age, he passed the tradition along to them. Ben, the oldest, took his first whitetail with the rifle when he was 14. Caleb was also 14 when he downed his first deer.
But Eli, the youngest, showed little interest in hunting.
"He squirrel hunted a little bit last season, but didn't kill any," John said. "He told me that hunting 'just wasn't his thing right now.' I kept asking him if he'd like to go with me and the other boys, but he said no, and finally he told me to quit asking."
Imagine John's surprise, then, when he received a text message from Eli just three days before this year's Nov. 21 buck-season opener.
"He shot me a text asking if he could go hunting with us on Monday," John said. "I sent him a text that said, 'Come ahead, baby!'"
Eli had never shot a high-powered rifle, so John took him out to get him sighted in. Eli's first two shots from 50 yards cut the same hole in the target. John deemed him ready.