The Deer Hunter

I’m a sucker for good people doing great things, but there’s only so many stories you can write about talented footballers training to become builders.

So I’m going to break precedent today and completely change direction, and Lachie Hunter is the perfect catalyst to do exactly that.

If I had the honour of playing with Gary Ablett Senior and Gary Ablett Junior, then I have the pleasure of getting to know Lachie and Mark Hunter.

My own father committed suicide several years ago now, leaving a note for only me upon his departure, and whilst that in itself is a hideous experience for anyone to have to endure I am always blissfully reassured when I now see how beautiful a relationship father and son should actually have.

Lachie Hunter is a class act and a Premiership Western Bulldog, and his old man Mark Hunter was a brilliant AFL player in his own right.

A reliable defender who could read the play with his eyes closed, Mark Hunter was silky smooth in one breath but as hard as a cats head in the next.

I can vividly recall one of my very first games for Geelong as an 18 year old back in 1994.

We were playing Footscray at Kardinia Park, and my contribution on the day would be minimal, thanks to Mark Hunter.

I remember shaking his hand at the start of the game and barely getting near it for the rest of the day, while Hunter casually helped himself to 22 kicks, 4 handballs and most likely a couple of Brownlow medal votes.

If Mark Hunter was a very good AFL footballer then his son Lachie is the new and improved model.

A brilliant ball winner with exquisite skills and a natural hunger to find the footy, Lachie took his own game to a new level in 2017.

Despite the Bulldogs disappointment as a collective in missing the finals on the back of a Premiership in 2016, Lachie Hunter was one of the few Bulldog players who actually enhanced his reputation this year, particularly with regards to his consistency and reliability.

Hunter played every game in 2017, averaging 22.6 disposals and pushing forward when required to kick clutch goals in big games as a dangerous small forward.

While his overall numbers were marginally down on his breakout 2016 season, his reliability, leadership, consistency and non-negotiable importance to the Western Bulldogs were all elevated significantly.

Extremely likeable, though cautiously reserved, it’s not easy get to know Lachie Hunter.

An intelligent young man with a quick wit and dry sense of humour, he prefers silence to unnecessary dribble and despite his reserved nature, is as observant and perceptive as they come.

Off the footy field, Hunter along with Bulldog teammate and best mate Luke Dahlhaus are on track to complete their Certificate III in Carpentry qualification at the Trade Institute of Victoria (TIV).

The Premiership duo are a breath of fresh air, who prefer quietly going about their building training with as little fuss as possible.

“My interest in building started back in high school,” Hunter says.

“I did design tech in Year 11 and 12 and really enjoyed it, and then went on to do work experience with my uncle, who’s a Carpenter, so it really all stemmed from there,” he adds.

Hunter and Dahlhaus are slightly different to the 40 other AFL players studying courses at TIV in that they have already completed a significant amount of their Certificate III in Carpentry previously elsewhere.

“With football taking up most of our time we had to put Carpentry on the back burner for a little while but when the flexible opportunity to keep studying at TIV came up Dahl (Luke Dahlhaus) and I jumped at it,” Hunter says.

Predictably reluctant to talk himself up, Hunter is quick to speak glowingly of those around him who have assisted this clever young man in getting him to where he is today, in particular his father Mark and best mate, Dahlhaus.

“Dad is easily the most influential person in my life,” Hunter says.

“When I was younger it was all about school and footy like most father-son relationships, but now that I’m a little older it’s more like he is just one of my best mates,” he adds.

The praise for his best mate is equally as palpable.

“We (Dahlhaus and Hunter) have a pretty strong friendship,” Hunter says.

“We lived around the corner from each other for four years and hang out most weekends, so to study with a great mate makes it a lot easier also,” he adds.

With the AFL pre-season now in full swing it is head down and backside up for Lachie Hunter and his Western Bulldog teammates.

As a player, he is in good hands at the Bulldogs who, as sure as the day is long, will bounce back strongly as a club in 2018.

And as a bloke, he is in even better hands with people like Mark Hunter and Luke Dahlhaus.

Author: Aaron Lord

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