As a full-time drywall finisher, father of five, volunteer fire fighter and small farm operator, Anthony Vecchio has little time to pursue his lifelong passions for hunting and fishing.
A member of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) local 1955 living in New Jersey, Vecchio spends his days working commercial jobs from high-rise buildings to large warehouses in Philadelphia. But his workday doesn’t end with his shift. At home, Vecchio operates a small livestock and produce farm with his wife and five children, ages twelve to five. On top of that, he volunteers at his community fire house, runs a fundraising carnival for his church each year and stays busy with his kid’s school functions and extracurricular activities. That leaves little time for hunting and fishing.
Growing up near a lot of water, Vecchio began fishing with his father at a young age. They often visited the Atlantic shore to go saltwater fishing and clamming. Today, Vecchio enjoys any chance he gets to take his family fishing, though he spends most of his time putting worms on the hooks, untangling lines and pulling kids out of the lake.
Vecchio got hooked on hunting as a teen when he went with friends and family. He has hunted small game and deer ever since. “I enjoy taking my kids hunting…passing on what I think is great-hunting, fishing, the outdoors and respect for nature,” Vecchio said. “We don’t shoot anything we don’t eat. We all try to do it right.” Vecchio considers his neighbors his “Gun Club” and even offered his land to build a clubhouse for the group.
With so much going on, Vecchio dreamed for the chance to take a break from his busy life and head west to hunt whitetail. “I had a chance to go whitetail hunting 10 years ago with an outfitter who was a client’s brother-in-law, but I wasn’t able to go, and I’ve been kicking myself ever since,” Vecchio said. “I’ll never be able to go somewhere to hunt whitetail. There’s just no way I could afford it with my family to support.”
Vecchio got his second chance for a whitetail trip out west through Escape to the Wild, a TV program of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, VERSUS Network and several labor unions and contractor associations that takes hardworking union members on the hunting or fishing trip of their dreams.
Vecchio has been a member of IUPAT for 26 years and says union work is the only way to go. “I owe my life and everything I have to the work I’ve done in the union,” he said. “It supports my family, and I am very grateful.” As one of the sponsors of Escape to the Wild, the IUPAT also helped Vecchio fulfill his dream as he headed to South Dakota’s fields of gold last fall in search of a monster whitetail.
Join Brother Vecchio on his western whitetail hunt. Tune in to VERSUS Country on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 10 AM Eastern.