by Heather Howell
Gerald “Jerry” Vassallo of Hammonton, NJ, a retired member of Bricklayers Local 5, purchased his first bow, a Pearson Recurve, in 1973, and even now his passion for hunting keeps him awake with excitement the night before opening day.
These days, Jerry primarily hunts the Northeast region of the United States but the opportunity to hunt outside the Northeast has been a long-time desire of Jerry’s, so when Brotherhood Outdoors co-hosts Daniel Lee Martin and Julie McQueen invite him to hunt hogs in Texas, his dream finally comes true.
Jerry, now retired, joined the union in Hackensack, NJ, in 1965. He is very thankful for the life his union membership has afforded him.
“My union was the most important thing in my working life,” said Jerry. “With good, safe and secure working conditions, as well as great wages and benefits, I now live a comfortable life in my senior years.”
A veteran of the Vietnam War, Jerry keeps busy in his retirement through his involved with many organizations including the American Legion, Vietnam Veterans Association and Paralyzed Vets of America. Serving his community is an important part of his life.
Perhaps the most fulfilling program Jerry volunteers for is New Jersey’s Take a Youth Hunting program, which gets youth outdoors by giving them their first hunting experience.
Jerry has volunteered with the program for eight years, and works with children between the ages of six and eight. “You should see the looks in their eyes when that pheasant breaks cover and takes flight. I am so grateful for this opportunity,” he said.
When Brotherhood Outdoors heard about his passion and commitment to serving others, they rewarded him with a trip he’d never forget.
On day one of the trip, the crew realized weather conditions were going to be harsh and uncooperative. The rainy season in Northeastern Texas means lots of mud and little day time hunting, but these factors wouldn’t stop Jerry from trying to bag a hog. Jerry’s excitement and high spirits fueled the crew’s persistence to persevere even in the rough, rainy conditions.
“Jerry is very animated and fun; we all loved him immediately,” said Julie. “This was Jerry’s trip of a lifetime. He enjoyed himself so much, and we got to capture it.”
The rainy conditions limited hunting to the evenings, but on the second day of the hunt, Julie spotted a group of hogs right at sunset. A stalk was put on the hogs, which could be seen by the light of the moon through the crew’s scopes. Will they be able to harvest these hogs or will conditions get the best of them?
Join Jerry and the Brotherhood Outdoors crew on this unpredictable adventure as they fight grueling rains and muddy conditions during the Northeastern Texas wet season.
Tune in to Brotherhood Outdoors on the Sportsman Channel. See Show Schedule.