Preparing for his first hunting trip, Vincent Cavallo read about safety procedures and practiced at the firing range.
But despite his precautions, the 32-year-old man from Altadena died Saturday while hunting with an uncle in western Maryland. Police said his rifle accidentally discharged when he either slipped or dropped his gun.
The men were hunting deer on private property, police said. It was the first day of Maryland's two-week deer hunting season.
"He looked forward to this for quite a long time," said his father, Joseph Cavallo. He said his son, a Navy veteran, adored his uncle, an experienced hunter, and had been planning the trip for a while.
The men had become separated before Vincent Cavallo's rifle discharged, police said. His uncle heard a shot just before 9:30 a.m. and found Cavallo's body.
Cavallo's uncle could not be reached for comment.
Joseph Cavallo said his son had read hunting safety procedures, went to the firing range and asked his uncle several questions before they left Saturday morning. He said he does not blame his brother-in-law.
Nicholas Cavallo said his older brother Vincent "was asking all the right questions. He was definitely excited about it."
He said his brother had medically retired from the Navy as a petty officer.
Joseph Cavallo said his son was serving aboard the U.S aircraft carrier Carl Vinson in 2010 when it deployed to Haiti for relief efforts after a devastating earthquake.
Recently, he had been living at home in Altadena and planning to move to Oregon, where the cost of living is cheaper, his father said. He was interested in learning to race cars.
He and his father loved watching football together and cheered for the New England Patriots because they were fans of quarterback Tom Brady. They went to Gillette Stadium in 2014 together for a father-son trip.
"It is so painful," Joseph Cavallo said. "I've cried so much the last day. I just miss him so much."
Anderson is a staff writer for the Baltimore Sun.