I just returned from my first Illinois bow hunting trip, and was lucky enough to take my first big buck deer hunting with a bow.
Illinois Bow Hunting
We arrived in southern Illinois on Saturday November 1,2008 during the afternoon. And were greeted by very warm temperatures. We immediately unpacked and headed for the woods. We were all excited to be in Illinois bow hunting. My three buddies and I did some scouting and hunted that afternoon. My buddy Brad shot a big doe that evening and we saw a few deer. We took the deer to the local deer cooler that night and there were several big bucks hanging in the cooler. We were pumped. We hunted very hard all week and saw a lot of does and several small bucks chasing does. But the temperatures remained very warm during the day and in the upper forties in the mornings. We just weren’t seeing the sign or big bucks. We found a few scrapes and rubs here and there but nothing that really got your blood boiling and made you think a big buck was in rut in the area. After hunting hard all week in the warm temperatures we decided to extend the trip a couple of days because we knew there was a cold front coming in and the does should be going in heat any day, they were so close we could tell by the smaller bucks chasing.
After a rainy windy Thursday ,Friday brought cooler temperatures and even though we were all exhausted from hunting hard all week we weren’t giving up even though we were so tired physically and mentally. Thursday morning my buddy Mac saw ten bucks chasing a hot doe all morning and he saw several nice bucks and he saw a big buck that would have been a shooter but he was broken off just above his G-1 on his left beam. So he let him and a fairly nice eight pointer walk by at about twelve yards. We were reluctant to come down from the stand but did and returned to the room and regrouped for the afternoon hunt. That evening the temperatures warmed up and we only saw a few does.
Friday morning the temperatures were in the upper thirties and we knew it should be a great morning. I was so tired it was all I could do to get out of the bed, I had been fighting some type of stomach virus for a couple of days and I was weak and drained. But I didn’t come to Illinois to be sick. We headed for the woods early and got in our stands well before daylight. I was hunting a spot where there were several fresh scrapes and some really nice rubs near a big hardwood ridge where it met a big thicket near some pines. There were loaded persimmon trees all around and plenty of honeysuckle and white oaks all over the ground. I put out doe in estrous urine and mega tarsal scent and was about twenty feet up a pine in my new TREEWALKER climbing stand. I was pumped, early November 38 degrees and I was on the edge of my seat. It was just one of those magical mornings every deer hunter dreams about. I walked up on two does right were I was going to hunt. About 6:50 I decided to make some racket. I gave a few grunts and a couple of bleats then I got my rattle bag and did about a minute rattling sequence. After about fifteen minutes I gave a few more grunts and bleats and did a more aggressive rattling sequence. I then settled in and and sat very still and scanned the area. Then about sixty five yards in front of me I saw horns coming across a hardwood draw. My heart started pumping, I got my bow and got ready. The buck was kind of going away from me so I hit my grunt a couple of times and he turned and started heading straight towards me, like he was on a string. He came in to some thick stuff about thirty five yards away and I couldn’t get a shot. I had to compose myself and be patient. He was coming to an opening about thirty yards away and had his head down eating acorns taking his sweet time. I didn’t want to draw to soon so I waited until I saw his horns come out from behind the thick stuff and I came to full draw. I had ranged a pine at twenty three yards about seven yards directly in front of where he was now standing. I put my thirty yard pin just behind his shoulder and let it fly. He ran off back the same way he came. I think I hit some small limbs that I had not seen. I was shaking I wasn’t sure what had happened, I couldn’t tell if I made a good shot or not. I got my cell phone and called my buddy Mac who was hunting near by. I told him what had happened and told him I was going to wait a while before getting down and checking. A few minutes passed and I decided to give a few more grunts and bleats. Then my phone vibrated it was Mac, I was telling him I wasn’t sure what happened, then while I was talking to Mac I saw the buck coming back for more, I couldn’t believe it, I hung up on Mac and got my bow and got ready again. He was working his way further away from me so I grunted and he turned and came straight to me again. He took his time and finally came back where I had just missed him. He stepped into an opening a thirty yards and this time I put the thirty yard pin on his vitals and smack, he wasn’t as lucky! He walked about five yards and I could tell he was hurt, he walked another five yards and started getting weak kneed, then he walked another five yards and laid down and expired. I was so excited, I had just harvested my first big racked buck with a bow. My PSE Stinger with Beman ICS Bowhunter 340 carbon arrows tipped with G5 Montec 100 grain broad-heads did a number on him. I called Mac and gave him the good news. It was down to the last hunt of our trip and I had taken a mature trophy whitetail in southern Illinois. It’s a memory that I will cherish for the rest of my life. The big ten pointer was huge, I have never been hunting outside of Georgia and have taken some heavy bucks, but this deer was like a horse. He was easy 250 pounds live weight, what a brute. He had a torn ear and scars on his neck and obviously wasn’t afraid of a good fight. I am very blessed to have had the opportunity to be able to hunt such a magnificent animal and enjoy the great outdoors in such a beautiful place. If you get the chance to go bow-hunting in Illinois I would definitely recommend it.