Century-Old Pennsylvania Hunter Has Tagged More Than 100 Deer

After taking an 8-point buck this season, Ray Swingle reflects on a life well lived
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Ray Swingle with the 8-point buck he tagged in early December. Courtesy Ray Swingle

At the ripe age of 100, Ray Swingle is still slaying whitetails. On Dec. 5, while hunting out of an old box blind on his farm in Pennsylvania, Swingle shot an 8-point buck from 75 yards away. By Swingle’s estimation, it’s one of the 100-plus deer he’s killed during his long life in the outdoors.

Swingle was hunting with his grandson-in-law, Mike Mancuso, when he harvested the buck. He shot it with the same trusty Winchester Model 70 Featherweight he’s used for years. The rifle is chambered in .30-06, and he only shoots ammo he handloads himself.  

“I’ve shot almost everything with that rifle and caliber,” Swingle tells Outdoor Life. “I still do, because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

He’s carried that rifle all over North America, chasing elk in Colorado and big-bodied whitetails in the Midwest. He’s also hunted moose in Newfoundland, caribou in Quebec, Dall sheep in the Yukon, and mountain goats in British Columbia. Earlier this year, he and Mancuso went on a deer hunting trip in Missouri for the 10th year in a row. But even for a well-traveled sportsman like Swingle, it’s hard to beat hunting close to home.

“Most of my deer have been on or near the place I’ve owned and worked as a dairy farmer,” says Swingle, whose farm is in Union Dale not far from where he grew up.

Although he’s had to switch to a crossbow recently due to shoulder troubles, Swingle was a dedicated bowhunter for decades. He’s twice pulled off the “triple crown” of Pennsylvania bowhunting—killing a deer, a bear, and a wild turkey with a bow all in the same year.

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A vintage photo of Ray Swingle with a wild turkey; Swingle with a black bear he harvested more recently. Courtesy Ray Swingle

“When Ray was bowhunting, he took a deer every year with a bow for 30 years,” says Mancuso, who lives on the same farm as Ray but in a different house. “This year he only saw small bucks while hunting [with his crossbow], so he didn’t get one until rifle season opened.”

Swingle was happy with the 8-point buck he harvested last week. But he says his proudest hunting achievement was the doe he shot in Pennsylvania in 1938.

“That was my first deer, which I legally shot at age 15 with a single shot .22 rifle,” Swingle recalls. “Back then it was lawful to hunt with a .22, and that doe really got my love for hunting going.”

Swingle soon realized the .22 wasn’t enough gun for deer. The following year, he bought himself a .30-30 Winchester and a box of shells for $30.

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The hunter celebrated his 100th birthday in October. These days, Swingle usually hunts alone in deer stands that be builds himself, but Mancuso says he considers himself lucky anytime Swingle asks him or his 21-year-old son to come along.

“Ray will be after turkeys this spring again with his crossbow,” says Mancuso. “He’s amazing. He works on the farm daily, and hunts whenever the season is open for whatever game is available.”