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Jeff Gillespie’s 12-pointer

November 26, 2009

Illinois hunting and fishing

Trophy Tidbits

Scorable Points: 12

Kill Date: Nov. 26, 2009

County: Morgan

Season: Bow

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here in the words of Omaha, Neb. bowhunter Jeff Gillespie is the story of his hunt for a 12-point Morgan County buck.

Attached is a picture of a giant buck I shot at Strut and Rut Hunting Lodge in Arenzville, IL on Thanksgiving morning.  This outfitter is one of the best outfitters I have ever been to. The size of the deer I see year in and year out and the great hospitality at the lodge are the reasons I have continued to return.

On that particular morning, the sit in the stand was cold with a steady drizzle of rain.  The first hour in the stand fairly uneventful, only seeing some fawns at a distance on the side hill and a very large flock of turkeys roosting several hundred yards away.  The quietans stillness that morning was very out of the ordinary.  Generally, the turkeys sound off for the first hour or so of the morning but I believe the cool temp and the drizzle had them in a different mood. 


It was about 8 a.m. when I heard some noise down to the right of my stand in the thick creek bottom.  I concentrated on the sounds for several minutes to no avail,  so I gazed over to my left and scanned the thick CRP looking for any movement.  Just a couple days earlier I had a giant deer appear out of the far edge of the CRP patch at 82 yards, out of range for me with my bow to make an ethical kill.  I had just looked away from the CRP field when I heard that sound that every bow hunter would die to hear this time of year.  It was a couple of soft grunts, and they were close.  It was coming from where I had heard the noise on the creek moments before.


I scanned the thick brush, waiting for him to appear, and out he walked.  He was about 22 yards from the stand, in some of the thickest brush.  It was hard to gauge at first just how big he was because of all of the brush between us.  This gave me the opportunity to slowly get to my feet and get turned in the right direction.  As I turned and got in position, a mature doe popped out of the thicket at about 15 yards. 


She was directly down wind of me… I thought my hunt may be over.  I leaned into the tree to make sure she could not skyline me quite as easy and prayed to the good Lord to help me out in the situation.  She stayed downwind, head bobbing, sniffing the air and eating.  She knew something just wasn’t right, but she wouldn’t quite pin me down.  She continued to play this game for over fifteen minutes.  By this time my knees where shaking. The monster buck had made his way out of the thick creek bottom into the short grass.  He was at twenty yards but I had no shot because he was behind a small thicket and I still had the doe starring up at me every thirty seconds from fifteen yards.  I just knew that if I did not spook the doe, I would get an opportunity to draw back on this buck of a lifetime.  I just had to hold it together.


It seemed like an eternity had passed when the doe finally decided that it was safe.  She took a couple of steps out towards to the CRP.  At that time, the buck decided he would not be left behind and started to follow her every step.  He had cut up through the CRP to about thirty yards when I final had an opportunity to get my bow drawn back. 


It seemed like it took forever for it to get to this point and then things happened really fast.  The arrow flew straight and struck the buck back from the shoulder about four to five inches and centered straight up and down.  I instantly saw blood coming from the side of the buck as he trotted away and up into the strip of short trees, about fifty yards away.  At that moment, I watched the ridge top to see if he was going clear it .  I could not hear anything… no running, trotting, or crashing…..  It was a good hit how far could he go?  Not knowing was killing me!  My knees where shaking so bad I had to hold onto the tree to keep me from falling.  I sat down with my mind going a hundred miles a minute.  And then I heard what every bow hunter waits to hear.  The crash, not fifty yards from the stand in those same short trees.  What an experience!!!!! 


This was definitely my greatest experience to date bow hunting deer.  I want to say a big thanks to Dana McClain and family, Chad Phelps and Dick “B” Bartholomew, for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime killing my biggest buck yet.  Strut and Rut is a first class operation and are the nicest outfitters I have had the opportunity to hunt with.  They make this trip something I look forward to every year.  It was an amazing time for me and the “Minnesota crew”,  as Dana refers to them.  Thanks for the opportunity to hunt with such a good group of guys.  And finally,  thanks to my Wife and kids for putting up with me and my hunting shenanigans!


Illinois hunting and fishing

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