Learn more about Donald Trump Jr.'s bucolic retreat in Roscoe, New York

By Rose Minutaglio
July 21, 2017 10:17 AM
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On a scenic road near Roscoe, New York — nicknamed Trout Town, USA — a white and red Alfa Romeo recently whizzed past an old wrought iron bridge pushing 90 mph.

It’s the first vehicle that’s gone by in 20 minutes on this gorgeous stretch of upstate highway, and it’s not hard to see why the driver, Donald Trump Jr., 39, comes to his nearby Catskills cabin most weekends: privacy.

The First Son has made headlines in recent weeks for his controversial meeting with Russian nationals, but when he’s not politicizing or running the family business in N.Y.C., he escapes with wife Vanessa and their five children to Roscoe: population 600.

The slow hum of the river and creeks are a complete change of pace from Don Jr.’s life in the city that never sleeps, roughly 120 miles away.

Zuma Press/Alamy

Don Jr., an avid hunter, fly-fisherman and former member of the board at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum, is frequently spotted by locals fishing alone. Afterwards, he heads to the local Riverside Café with his family to enjoy a meal.

“He’s good people, he’s family,” the restaurant manager tells PEOPLE. “He comes in wearing his Columbia shirt and a cap and settles in with his kids and wife and they all enjoy a meal together.”

Don Jr., a frequent customer, never drinks and tries not to bring attention to himself or his family.

“[He] never has his hair slicked back like he does on TV,” adds the manager. “It used to be that no one recognized him when he came in, but that was before the election. Now he can’t eat in peace without someone recognizing him and saying something.”

The manager describes Don Jr. as a loving family guy with well-behaved children who never get too loud during a meal: “He’s a loyal customer and we respect privacy in this town.”

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But not everyone in town is happy about Don Jr.’s presence in their small, tight-knit community.

“Some people around here don’t like that he lives in the area, they resent him for his father’s policies,” a volunteer at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum, who sees Don Jr. around town, tells PEOPLE. “How can you call yourself a true fly-fisherman if you don’t respect the water?”

The volunteer explains that locals are upset with his father’s “lack of respect for environmental policies.”

Even so, the volunteer concedes that Don Jr. appears to be a “down-to-earth family guy — really friendly.”

Before fishing outings, Don Jr. swings by Catskills Flies — the oldest continually owned fly shop in town and the same spot where Dan Rather grabs gear — to purchase bait.

“He’s a loyal customer, so I can’t complain. He seems to be a family man, he’s always with his kids,” owner Dennis Skarka tells PEOPLE. “He comes in here with his wife and kids and they poke around, they just look normal — not with tons of makeup on or all dressed up. They just look like normal people.”

The Trumps swing by about four times a year to stock up on all their fishing needs, and every time they come in the store they are “pleasant and really down-to-earth,” says Skarka. “He’s not one of those guys that slaps down bills and expects a 20 percent discount because of his name: He quietly puts the money on the counter and says thank you.”

Don Jr. is also an avid hunter — his controversial affinity for killing majestic animals on African safari hunting trips with brother Eric is well documented — and it’s a hobby he enjoys upstate as well. He stocks up on ammunition at downtown Roscoe’s gun shop: Big Dog Arms.

One employee at the shop, who claims Don Jr. sticks to shooting ducks while in Roscoe, tells PEOPLE that since the election, “large bodyguards dressed in black” have been spotted wandering the quaint downtown streets.

But aside from the occasional stop at a local shop in Roscoe or a meal at the Riverside Café, Don Jr. and his family generally keep to themselves in their Catskills cabin — sheltered from the outside world and lightyears away from Trump Tower.