Illinois Outdoors at PrairiestateOutdoors.com
RulesIllinois Outdoors at PrairiestateOutdoors.com
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Marc Anthony of Goodfield owns and operates Look Alive Taxidermy and Non Typical Hunter magazine. Anthony grew up in central Illinois and spent eight years as a commercial pilot before giving that up to spend more time with his wife Jan and three children, Victoria, Drake and Elesa. Anthony hunted on and off as a child but started seriously at age 30 and focuses on bowhunting for deer and turkeys. He's arrowed four bucks that meet the Boone and Crockett Club (net) standards and 20 Pope and Young Club qualifiers. Anthony is on the Pro Staff for Muzzy broadheads, Bear Archery, Vital Gear, Natural Predator, Non Typical Hunter and several other companies. He also is a member of the Outdoor writers Association of America, OWAA.

 

Non-typical Hunter

A Web log by Marc Anthony

Illinois hunting and fishing

Check out Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park

May 19, 2009 at 11:33 AM

Before I post my part II on locating big bucks, I wanted to throw this piece of info in here since it pertains to part I of scouting and locating great places to hunt within a non familiar place.

I stayed at the Rend Lake Resort, http://rendlakeresort.com/ this past weekend to attend the Illinois Writers & Broadcasters Spring Conference. The Rend Lake Resort is located inside the Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park, which is in Franklin county. First and foremost, I would like to mention that the owner, John Reilly and his staff, couldn’t have been more accommodating! The food was great, the resort was great and his staff was eager to please anyone who asked for assistance. Anyone looking for one of he best places to fish for crappie, catfish or to bow fish for gar, you’d be hard pressed to find another place of equal quality!

Now for the hunting part of this!

The Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park, which is part of the Rend Lake State Fish & Wildlife Area, is an overlooked hunting opportunity for some. This area has over 23,000 acres within it! That’s not 2300, that’s 23,000 acres! It’s full of timber, draws, grass land and DEER! There is definitely not a deer shortage in this park. Deer are everywhere. I grazed several times from the convenience of my truck window, carefully studying the layout, the deer and met with several of the local people to determine that this could very well be my next stop this fall for a big buck adventure. Franklin county is no stranger to big bucks either. There have been many monsters pulled from Franklin county and many of them from this very park. Now before I get chided for exposing a possible great place to hunt to the general public, I want you to keep in mind that I am asking you, an Illinois tax payer, to take advantage of this great opportunity we have right here in this state. With all of the concern lately regarding the lack of places to hunt, I am merrily writing about this location as a service to all of our PSO readers. Rest assured, even the local hunters I spoke with were more than happy to have me write about their local honey hole, which is a rarity in itself! The reason? When you have 23,000 acres, bow hunting is pressure is far from concentrated, the locals enjoy the added business and are willing to accommodate you.

This park, is about a 3.5 hour drive from the Peoria area, down I-57. It is located about 20 miles south of Mt.Vernon, right off of the interstate about a mile. If you’re looking for a place to fish or hunt, it would be well worth your time to investigate the Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park. There isn’t too many places you can find a good place to eat, sleep, fish and hunt all within the same proximity of each other.  Here’s an aerial image of the area http://terraserver-usa.com/image.aspx?T=1&S=16&Z=16&X=25&Y=329&W=1&qs=%7csesser%7cil%7c . You can expand it, move it, whatever you wish. If you decide to check it out, good luck!

I’ll post my part II of locating big bucks later. 

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

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Illinois hunting and fishing

Finding that big buck begins now!

May 12, 2009 at 12:24 PM

It’s evident by now that Illinois deer hunters come in all shapes and sizes. There are the meat hunters, the antler hunters and the combined. Although, when you think about it, isn’t everybody a meat hunter? You know, you hear some people say the bone collectors are different than the meat eaters but in reality, how many hunters do you know that DON’T eat the meat even after killing a big buck?

I’m a combined meat eater/bone collector. I eat everything I kill or I won’t kill it, shy of a coyote or two. When I start my quest for the big buck, it usually starts in January but now is the time to lock down on a monster buck’s hideaway. I’ve always said, “If you can find where he sleeps early season, you’ll know where to go opening day archery season”. That statement has held true for several years. Early season hunting is the very best, if you were to ask me. You’ll find that statement holds a lot a water with other hunters who have found the secret of early buck harvesting. So how does one go about finding where a big buck lives during the majority of the year?

I use several different ways to lock down on a big buck during the off season but the way I go about it depends if it is a fresh piece of property that I’ve never hunted, or a piece of property that I’m very familiar with. I like to use a formula that I’ve tweaked over time using a topo map ( http://terraserver-usa.com/ ) for newly hunted parcels. I like to locate all of the water ways, possible food sources, the highest and the lowest elevations along with any piece of landscape that changes dramatically. Once I have this criteria identified, I put it all together.

Here’s what it all means.

1. Food sources. This is self explanatory. They feed where they have food. Locating the BEST food sources per time of season is the only critical factor.

2. Waterways. Same as above, they need water to survive.

3. The highest and lowest elevations. Late morning to early afternoon they like to bed down in higher elevated places so they can use the wind currents that rise with the heat, to aid them in detecting the scents of predators. Early morning and late afternoon, the opposite applies. 

4. Changing landscapes. Deer like to focus on changing landscapes. A good example would be those of you who like to hunt the edge of a cornfield/timber edge, it’s that change that deer like. This holds true for bottom lands, heavy timbered pieces where something interferes with the scenery, etc.

Putting it all together.

With the topo map in hand, these locations can tell me a lot about a piece of property I’ve never hunted before. In fact, I’ve done scouting for individuals who’ve asked me to come out to their farms and have been surprised to find out that the very places I pointed out on the topo as the best hunting locations, just happened to be some of the best places these individuals have found over a period of several decades of hunting! You’ll be surprised to know, formulas do work! 

Here’s what I do. I like to find these key ingredients and then locate a spot that has water, food and a solid bedding area all within 200 yards. If the place you’re looking at doesn’t have these key ingredients, leave it alone and find a new place. Bucks don’t travel much early season and there’s no need for them to! When locating the bedding areas, keep the elevations in mind for 2 reasons. First, you don’t want to scout it out when he’s expected to be there and second you want to plan your hunt when he IS there. If by some chance you bust him out accidentally, so be it, he’ll come back soon enough. Once in the “magical” area, pay special attention to any worn down routes to and from his breakfast table. Getting his routine memorized is paramount to your success! Now take all of this information and place it off to the side for now. Get on your computer and gather some data pertaining to the wind currents in the area of your property. I like to go back a couple of years and see where the winds have been the most dominant. If the wind comes from the south 66% of the time in one place and 10% from another location and 24% from yet a different direction, you’ll soon see that you’ll have your best locations for tree stand positions months before the season even begins!

Just think about this now. You now know where to hunt, where to place some tree stands and what to expect from your new hunting location and you haven’t even set foot on the property other than looking for his food routes. THIS is how you can find the best 1 acre out of several hundred acres when determining the best location to harvest your buck. There’s more to add but for now, I’m going to leave it here. This basic formula can be the difference of “hoping” for a big buck to “increasing” your chances for a big buck. Once a hunter utilizes and implements a solid strategy like this one mentioned, he/she will be surprised to find out how it changes the entire game of big buck hunting altogether.

In the whitetail world, big bucks are a separate entity not to be confused with deer in general. Nervous, paranoid and suspicious are just some of the words used to describe these magnificent creatures! Other than an occasional stroke of luck, a solid game plan is needed to consistently hang their heads on your wall. Although there are many ways to achieve success when hunting big bucks, this is one way you can ultimately get what you’re after!

I’ll post part II soon!

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Illinois hunting and fishing

The new face of Illinois deer hunters

May 08, 2009 at 09:30 AM

In all of my years of hunting whitetail, never have I’ve seen a growing inclination of interest in Illinois’ whitetail as we have today. Could it be the fact that today we have the internet which connects hunters from all corners of the state thus allowing us to interact in real time? Could it be the fact that deer in Illinois are still an exciting game animal enjoyed by hunters and non-hunters alike? Either way, the interest is there! Just type in any search word related to deer and you’ll have more information related to deer that you could possibly decipher.

In this information age, we can get nearly anything we need from the internet. I buy over the internet often as it’s quick, offers competitive comparison and it’s easy! I also use the internet to acquire data, game management plans, food plot info, health related studies, building materials, and on and on, and on. The knowledge that is literally available at the end of our fingers is incredible. It’s evident, more outdoor enthusiasts are using the internet to tap into the data bases of many whitetail interest groups to examine tried and trued policies, plans, ideas, strategies, etc. Could it be possible for anyone NOT to get the necessary information they were looking for via the internet? Maybe, but not likely. Back when I was an undergraduate, all we had was the library to utilize and that was a real headache. Books were grossly outdated, each and every time a knowledge base needed to be tapped into meant another trip miles away, not to mention you had to be quiet or risk being scolded by the librarian. Yes, the internet is a gem in disguise if used properly. Can hunters, state managers, outdoor writers use the excuse that the data needed for a particular study just isn’t available? That’s for you to ponder.

My purpose of writing this article is merrily to show how the face of hunting has changed over the last century. What a culture change we’ve had! From suits to Realtreel, from hauling dead deer exposed to inconspicuously taking them home, from a male only sport to a family tradition. Enjoy the pictures from the past below.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Hunters actually had their potraits taken with their deer!

Illinois hunting and fishing

Can’t drive through town anymore with dead deer hanging out!

Illinois hunting and fishing

This is next year’s LWS…just a joke, settle down!
Illinois hunting and fishing

Don’t even think about shooting one of these anymore!
Illinois hunting and fishing

Jeff Lampe last season.
Illinois hunting and fishing

Last but not least, PSO’s annual deer hunt. (Hey, that’s not a bad idea).
Illinois hunting and fishing

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