Which is not to say they don’t also enjoy the spoils of their animal tracking efforts around the dinner table. Ross insists that his family members feast on most of what they kill, touting as treasured family memories his wife’s venison spaghetti, the smoked hog they served at his son Travis’ high school graduation and the deep-fried wild turkey trotted out during the holidays.
An impromptu barbecue sometimes just falls into their lap.
Ross says that while they were out hunting, one of his boys killed a feral sow — only to later stumble upon four, now-orphaned piglets. The young man volunteered to try to raise the sounder of immature boars for a year, but he ran afoul of the law after the errant swine broke free from their pen and wandered into town.
The local authorities were not pleased with the escaped animals, at which point the younger Ross offered to slaughter them ASAP. So the youth called a bunch of friends over to the family homestead and doled out one final dose of discipline to the hogs.
“When I came back downstairs, they were all eating ribs,” the lawmaker says. And it sounds like the passion for pursuit has already taken hold of Ross’ office in Washington, D.C.
Ross’ chief of staff, Fredrick Piccolo Jr., went hunting for the first time with his boss and is proud to say he brought down one of the omnipresent boars almost immediately.
“[I] never hunted anything in my life,” he says. “Got it with my first shot from about 50 yards with a .308 rifle.”
“Most people shoot their first hog with me,” Ross proudly states.
So what does the Florida native miss most about his home state?
“I honestly miss the outdoors,” he shares, almost wistfully.
And what’s the best part about being in the nation’s capital?
American flags decorate the hood of an antique Ford car in the 4th of July Parade in Ripley, W. Va., on July 4, 2014. The parade is billed as "the USA's largest small town Independence Day Celebration."