The Right Place at the
Right Time or, A Lot of Luck
November 12, 2011
Having hunted deer for over 45 years I for
sure was interested when my friend, Jeff Bowen proposed a mega
road trip of 1100 miles to pursue a possible trophy
buck that dwarfs the whitetails of my native North Carolina.
I have probably taken more than 200 deer in my time and
more than 100 bucks, with quite a few nice mounts on my wall.
The hunt in Illinois, a bow and arrow hunt I considered
the odds of taking a buck that had to exceed the 140 score very
minimal. The time of the
season with the trees bare of leaves and less foliage for cover,
the odds I figured were about a 4% chance of a shot and 2% of
harvesting a buck.
However, the call of the wild got the best of me and I agreed to
Doing all the pre-hunt planning, target practicing,
preparing the equipment and double checking the necessities for
the hunt we set off bright and early for the Illinois experience.
We drove non-stop and settled into the hotel in
Canton for a much deserved rest from the
fifteen hours of travel.
The next day after scouting the area, we placed our
stands in proximity to quite a bit of deer sign skirting a large
corn field. We were in our stands early the next morning. Jeff
observed the comings and goings of numerous does and young bucks
along the hardwood edge within about 100 yards of his setup.
I spied a monster buck with my binoculars about 150
yards from my stand down the hardwood slope toward the creek. He
was tending a doe feeding on acorns that were still falling from
the oaks that were guarded from the wind that blows constantly
up higher on the ridges.
Realizing our setup mistake we decided to move our stands
at midday. I jokingly told Jeff that my new setup was a Boone &
Crockett stand after seeing the monster buck that morning.
That afternoon we decided to hunt between two soybean
fields in the creek valley.
Jeff positioned himself above me up the slope while I
performed a rattling sequence. A
pair of inquisitive does came in with a nice young 120 class 8
At dusk, while exiting the field, we
observed about 30 deer in the soybeans and two large bucks
chasing does. Jeff made a
comment that would resonate the next day. “looks like troubles
After the long 15 hour drive, scouting and hanging stands
and a day of hard hunting, we were dog tired. We slept in the
next morning, had breakfast and shopped for more comfortable
boots for Jeff. He was
convinced I, the old man, was going to walk him to death.
We left our truck about 9am with a plan to not hunt from
the stands but to hunt the opposite hardwood slopes of the
soybean valley for the two large bucks we spotted the evening
before. We started out
trying to stay in the shadows to skirt the fields but the sun
was too high to use the shadows, so we dropped down into the
creek bed to traverse the valley hopefully undetected.
Midway down the creek, we heard the unmistakable
commotion of a buck fight.
I notched an arrow and slipped my way around the bend to
within 30 yards of two bucks engaged in heated battle. The two
bucks, a smaller one with a rack in the 130’s ,and the monster I
had seen the day before, were totally focused on each other,
oblivious to our presence. The smaller buck pinned against the
creek bank by the behemoth could only defend himself from the
continued onslaught of the much larger buck. The scenario giving
me as easy shot, I quickly shot a broad head into the larger
bucks furnace, dropping him instantly.
Now gawking at what lay before us……one
exceptional animal, truly an awesome specimen.
A buck of a lifetime, an experience of a lifetime.
I looked up the hardwood
slope to the stand I had moved the previous day.
Remembering, the hope for
a shot from that perch, I never in my wildest dreams could have
anticipated the events that would play out in just one day.
An unbelievable experience.
A hunt I could have never imagined. My buck has a typical
10 point mainframe with split G-2’s and sticker points off the
G-3s. The official score 182 inches.
Truly a buck of a
Being in the right place at the right time, and just