Eyes on the Prize

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Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester has had no shortage of remarkable accomplishments in his 26 years. Win a World Series ring? Check. Pitch a no-hitter? Check. Beat cancer? That too. Kill a monster mule deer? Well, he’s still working on that one. Teaser Photo by Joe Byer and Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox
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Outdoor Life: You were born and raised in Tacoma, Washington. Did you grow up hunting and fishing? Lester: I grew up fishing. My family’s always done that, primarily lake-fishing for crappies and trout. When I was drafted in 2003, my roommate in A-ball in Augusta, Georgia, Chad Spann, took me turkey hunting. We had some jakes come in, but we never got a shot that morning. It didn’t matter, though, I was hooked on hunting right then and there and it’s been all downhill since.
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OL: What are your favorite species to hunt and fish? Lester: I’m primarily a whitetail hunter, but I enjoy hunting ducks, and I’m going to try for a mule deer tag in South Dakota next year. I also love bass fishing, just knowing that you might catch a 10-pounder on your next cast.
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OL: What are your favorite destinations? Lester: I’ve been getting into river fishing for salmon back home in Washington, which I really enjoy. But honestly, I don’t care where I am or what I’m doing; I just love being outdoors.
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OL: Any favorite memories? Lester: In 2006, while undergoing treatment for cancer, I caught a 40-pound king salmon in Washington, which was really special because even with everything else going on in my life, I was able to experience catching such an awesome fish.
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Lester: Probably my favorite memory while hunting was when my wife, Farrah, shot her first deer, a doe, during the 2007 off-season in Georgia. She shot a buck that season, too. Then, in 2008, she shot both a doe and her first real big buck at [teammate] Josh Beckett’s ranch in Texas. It’s exciting for me to see her do so well, since I got her into hunting.
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OL: Do you have any favorite trophies? Lester: My best fishing trophy is a 10-pound bass I caught while in High-A ball in Florida. Just yesterday I shot a bobcat with a bow here in Georgia. My buddy’s got a real cool bobcat mount in his house, so I’ve wanted to shoot one for years.
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OL: What’s your favorite rifle and load? Lester: My first rifle, a Winchester in .30/06, is probably the only rifle I’ll ever use. I just love that gun. This year I switched to the new Hornady Superformance ammo, which really put the hammer down on the South Dakota whitetail I shot this year.
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OL: Are there any skills you take from the pitching mound to the deer woods, or vice versa? Lester: The two biggest things that translate from the pitching mound to hunting and fishing are patience and perseverance. When you’re on the mound you have to take the game one pitch at a time, regardless of the score, and that approach helps when I’m in the woods or on the water as well. Just as I’m fortunate to pitch in the big leagues, I’m also fortunate for the time I get to spend outdoors.
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OL: Do you own any hunting land? Lester: I just bought 550 acres south of where I’m at in Georgia.
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OL: Do you get to do any fishing during spring training in Fort Myers, Florida? Lester: I go bass fishing whenever I can, and I enjoy wading the inshore flats in the Gulf for redfish and snook.
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OL: What’s more nerve-racking? Being on the mound in the clinching game of the World Series, trying to close out a no-hitter or keeping buck fever in check? Lester: Closing out the no-hitter, for sure, but they’re all similar in that you have to be able to control your breathing. If you can do that on the mound, you’ll be able to do it when a big buck approaches your stand, too.