For years avid big game hunter Miles Dean Jr., of Wendell, has traveled everywhere to hunt big game.
Q: Those who know anything about you are familiar with your great love for big game hunting – how did that come about?
I don’t know exactly – maybe from my granddaddy, my mom’s dad – he liked to hunt. I have always loved the outdoors. Maybe it was when I took my first hunting trip to Wyoming and I fell in love with the West so maybe it developed there. I have traveled everywhere to hunt: Africa, Canada, Mexico, Alaska. I just got too old to compete so now I just deer hunt and I don’t bow hunt as much as I want because of my age, but it has given me lots of great memories.
Q: You must have lots of “trophies.”
I do. I even started bringing some to the store (MadSports) and putting them in my office because I am running out of room.
Q: Of all the heads, or trophies, what is the one you are most proud of or the one that stands out in your mind?
Probably the leopard I killed in Africa in 1986. The leopard is one of the deadliest animals but you know, truthfully, it is not about the trophy but about the experience. I have been blessed. The perfect scenario for me would be hunting for elk on horseback on my ranch in Idaho. Big game hunting was my passion for many years.
Q: You stated it “was” – what is your passion now?
My grandkids, and spending time with them. My wife, Lee, and I have been married 39 years and we had two girls, and now we have four grandchildren: two boys and two girls, and they are all into sports so instead of hunting for deer, I would much rather be at their games and cheering them on from the sidelines. The boys, who are playing on a team I sponsor, just had one heck of a year in baseball – they went undefeated and are heading to the state (tournament). We also have a house at the lake so we like to take all the grandkids there and we just have a big time, being in the water or riding the four-wheelers.
Q: You did a little coaching in your early years – have you coached your grandchildren?
I did a little bit at first in the rec league but sometimes Papa likes to verbalize too much – I can get competitive (laughing). I think it is safer for me to watch from the sidelines.
Q: It seems like sports and Wendell always been an intertwined and integral part of your life.
It has. I grew up in Wendell and I was lucky enough to attend Wendell High for one year before the schools were consolidated into Vaiden Whitley. Friday night was always something else growing up. And when Wendell and Zebulon played each other, both towns shut down and everyone was at the game. They were our fierce rival from across the river. I dated a girl from Zebulon one time and that didn’t set too good with the boys in Wendell (laughing). It was an intense rivalry but there was respect there too. I am glad I grew up during that time. At a time when you shook a man’s hand and that meant something. My dad believed in working so I worked – I primed tobacco, worked at the pool. And I will never forget the opening day of the tobacco market – it was like a festival atmosphere, like the State Fair. Things are a lot different now.
Q: And sports helped open the door to college?
I lettered in three sports in high school. I always loved playing baseball, basketball and football, but I was small and I wasn’t that fast so golf was a better outlet for me. I got a golf scholarship to Atlantic Christian (now Barton). I majored in health and physical education. When I got out, I coached for three years at Wendell Jr. High but I had to find something that paid a bit more money. A friend of mine and I opened a sporting goods store in 1974. I am getting older and slowed down and may not do a lot of the things I used to, but I have really been blessed – very fortunate. It’s just been great.
Correspondent Dena Coward