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In a wooded clearing, David Dell’aquila pulls his dust-caked all-terrain vehicle up to a deer feeder. He climbs atop the ATV and hoists a sack of gray pellets, which he pours into an aluminum hopper, one of three on his ranch.
Deer - Feed - Turkeys - Mr - Dell'aquila
If the deer don’t eat the feed, the turkeys will. Mr. Dell’aquila would rather shoot deer than turkeys, so he doles out 50 pounds of feed a day, and has cleared land and expanded ponds to attract more of the white-tailed quarry that roam these hills and valleys.
He’s dismissive of local hunters who brag about the young bucks they’ve bagged – and determined to keep them off his ranch, which is studded with private-property notices and heat-and-motion sensors to monitor wildlife and unbidden humans. “These people in a lifetime never shot a 200-point deer,” he says, referring to a particular scoring system for a rare antler size. “I’d like to be the person who shoots one.”
Mr - Dell'aquila - Feet - Inches - Girth
Mr. Dell’aquila stands 6 feet, 6 inches tall and has the girth of a football lineman, which he once was. He has been known to eat two 48-ounce steaks for dinner. He pitches forward with an ursine gait, and when he talks, a low rumble of digressive and didactic points, it’s the voice of Sylvester Stallone playing Rocky.
It’s 90 degrees in the shade as he steers his ATV into a field where he’s installed solar-powered irrigation for his fledgling fruit trees. A skein of wood ducks crosses the cloudless afternoon sky.
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A retired millionaire, Mr. Dell’aquila could afford to hire enough workers and equipment to turn his 862-acre ranch into a hunting and fishing redoubt. But that’s not work, and work – sweaty, hazardous, dusty outdoor work – is what makes him...
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