Hunted, fished till Md. suburbs came knocking
Miller Young called himself “the last redneck in Bethesda.”
For years, he ran a bird farm on a four-acre spread that had been his family’s home since 1923. He hunted and fished and grew his own vegetables.
Periodically, he hosted a game barbecue where he served smoked venison, pork, wild boar, goose, antelope, quail and rabbit. Sixty or so of his best and closest friends— folks who “bite the caps off beers,” he said — gathered to eat, drink and swap stories about the days long gone in Montgomery County, when men were men and animals were for shooting and eating.
Mr. Young died Sept. 16 at a hospital in Raleigh, N.C. He was 67. The cause was complications from pneumonia, said a son, Hunter Young.
“Miller Young has been left behind by progress and he hopes no one comes back for him,” a 1988 Washington Post article noted.
He began his working career as a pin boy at a Bethesda bowling alley, and he would later claim to have once bowled a perfect 300 game. He was a farmer, bartender, owner-operator of a bicycle shop, restaurant manager and overseer of a wine-tasting room. Mainly, he worked at night.
His day job was his avocation and also his calling. He ran the K&E (Keg and Egg) Hacienda bird farm. There, he raised black Spanish turkeys, ring-necked pheasants, silver pheasants, mandarin ducks, chukar partridge, quail and white Chinese geese. There was a time when he sold quail eggs to Sutton Place Gourmet and day-old baby quail to falconers, who used them to train hawks for hunting. They paid him back with wild rabbits. He sold bird feathers for fishing flies and cap adornments. His birds won local, state and national awards in poultry competitions.
Miller Vernon Young was born in Bethesda on Aug. 22, 1948. His father was an Army colonel, and his grandfather ran an ice cream company in Washington. His great-grandfather was among the organizers of professional baseball in the nation’s capital.
He graduated in 1966 from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School and attended Montgomery College. For 22 months, he was a military police officer with the Army National Guard. His duties included protecting the White House from antiwar demonstrators during the Vietnam War.
Big-bellied and bearded, Mr. Young saw himself as a holdout against the relentless march of a suburbanization process that had no place for him. “I’m a dying breed,” he told The Post. “I try to preserve my antiquities. I eat bamboo shoots, and poke salad in the spring.”
The neighborhood where he lived, on the north side of Bethesda, had become excessively overpopulated, he believed.
By the late 1990s, townhouses across the street from his spread were selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and it was only a matter of time before he would sell, too. Since 1999, he had lived mostly in Gaithersburg, Md., visiting his sons frequently in North Carolina, where he died.
His marriage to Martha Dabrowski ended in divorce. Survivors include three sons, Hunter Young of Wendell, N.C., Sam Young of Rockville, Md., and Nick Young of Raleigh; and one granddaughter.
Mr. Young’s periodic barbecues of smoked game typically included meats “that probably some of the best chefs in town can’t get their hands on. And we get high quality without dishing out a lot of money,” he said.
There were only two real essentials: a rifle and a good aim.
As the years went by, even these essentials were imperiled. Hunting in Montgomery County had become socially suspect, and the number of places where hunters could hunt seemed to be inexorably declining. Or so said the venis onand wild goose-eaters at Mr. Young’s barbecues.
“There are too many people, too many joggers,” said Mr. Young.
Miller Young was known for his many wild-game barbecues.