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Benji Tate’s 17-pointer

October 28, 2008

Illinois hunting and fishing

Trophy Tidbits

Scorable Points: 17

Kill Date: Oct. 28, 2008

County: Marion

Season: Bow

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here in the words of Joanne Tate is the story of her husband Benji’s hunt for a 17-point buck.

Three years ago my husband and I were looking for some land to build our house on. We found a small plot of land for sale in Marion County. It was almost completely woods with a creek running through it and surrounded by fields on three sides. When we went to look at it of course I was trying to figure out where to put a house, but my husband had other things on his mind. He took off walking in to the woods. The man who was selling the land couldn’t figure out why he was so interested in the low lying areas, but I knew. He was looking for signs of wildlife.  We bought land but couldn’t hunt it till the next year, because our permits were for a different county. That was fine with us because my husband had already killed a 162 net score, perfect 10 pointer. What he thought was a buck of a lifetime. We did however plant a food plot. We cleared some land in the middle of the woods and planted turnips and clover. We didn’t want the deer to be disturbed while grazing.

The next spring we went shed hunting on our new land to determine how many and what size deer we had. I found both sides of a huge buck’s sheds in a thicket. It was a 12-point non-typical young deer. We had never seen the deer but we knew we had to find him. We had a trail camera out near our new food plot. We did see other deer and a lot of turkeys but not the one we were looking for. So we decided to try to get him on film. I set in my blind with a camera and my husband went further back and got into a tree stand. We didn’t see him till almost the end of the summer. We saw two deer in the middle of a field, all we could tell was one was typical and one was non-typical. Now we thought we knew where he was. We spent all our spare time for the next month patterning the deer taking photos and videos of him.

My husband had to have surgery that November on his right hand, so we knew we wouldn’t hunt a lot that year, so we decided we weren’t going to hunt the big non-typical that year. We thought he was only 3.5 years old and if given time to grow we thought he would probably get bigger anyway. We made sure even when hunting that year not to cross his path. We didn’t want him to change his pattern. Big deer don’t get that way from being stupid. Even if we decided to videotape him we stayed at a distance. I bought my husband a new video camera with a 2000 digital zoom. We could see him that way from the road if he was in the field next to our neighbor’s house. We could tell he had 15 visible points and thought he might have 17 but couldn’t be sure till we got closer.

This year we decided we were going to hunt the big non-typical. It was time to figure out exactly where we thought he was going to be and when.  We continued to pattern him and videotape him. We set up lock on tree stands early in the spring, near the food plot and creek. We set-up some more stands on our land next to the field. We knew would be planted in beans that year so it would be a good place for early season hunting. That way depending on weather and wind direction we had a good location to hunt.  All that we had to do was wait and watch till hunting season.

Illinois hunting and fishing

The deer moved like clockwork till September. Then one day the bucks were gone. We waited and watched for their return. Hoping when they returned their pattern wouldn’t change or that the big buck hadn’t been killed. Three weeks later they came out of the woods. They were in different groups then normal but all still there. The big buck was now with a little 8 pointer. That night I could see on my husbands face relief and excitement. He knew that next week he could start hunting his new buck of a lifetime.

The first week of deer season was so exciting and crazy. All those bucks we had been filming for months were right there in front of us. We decided our best bet would be to split up and hunt at different locations. My husband decided to hunt by the creek since it was still hot outside. I went up by the field. The first weekend of the season my husband and his brother seen him walking in the woods but he was to far away for a humane shot, he was about 60 yards away. So, sadly he had to let him walk.

We however knew we were in the right spot. We adjusted the stand he moved to the other side of the creek and down about 30 yards. The next day because of wind direction and weather we couldn’t hunt there. My husband hunted with me for the next few days. One afternoon while sitting in my ground blind, which was in the corner of the woods on the field, out came the 8 pointer we knew he had been with. We waited and watched as the little buck walked around on the other side of the field. Right before it got dark out he came. We couldn’t shoot since he was 90 yards away.

Every time we saw him it was amazing, he seemed bigger than we’d remembered. We went home that night a little disappointed but I think that is when buck fever really started setting in on my husband. He had seen him twice but hadn’t had a shot at him yet.

We continued to hunt and watch knowing we weren’t going to shot at anything else until we got him. On Oct. 25, 2008 my husband, his brother, and myself decided to go hunting for him again. We got up early in the morning and drove to where we were going to hunt. That morning we saw nothing but does. A little discouraged we left that afternoon and went to go get lunch. We sat at a local restaurant and got a plan together for that evening. We decided to go a little earlier than normal. My husband thought the deer had been moving a little earlier in the woods than normal.

So we went back to the same places we had been sitting earlier. My husband and his brother down by the creek, I sat on the field. My husband and I have walkie-talkies so we know what deer are where and when. They are great, ours have a headset so your hands are free and they are voice activated so all you have to do is start talking. At about 6 p.m. my husband told me he saw the big one and he was coming his way. I have to admit I was a little jealous; he would get a shot a couple of hours before he came my way. Then I had to sit and wait to see what would happen. I was so nervous sitting there not knowing what was going on, maybe more nervous than my husband.

The next thing I knew my husband was telling me on the walkie-talkies that he had shot him. He said the buck walked 25 yards from my husband’s stand. He drew back his bow and shot. He knew it wasn’t a great shot. He thought he had him a little too far back. We decided to back out of the woods and give him so time. My husband was nervous about leaving him but I was afraid if we pressured him he might get up and run and we would never find him. We left and went and picked up some supper. We didn’t stay and eat because my husband was so nervous. We went back that night and looked until 11 p.m. We found some blood but not a lot. We decided to give up for the night. I don’t think any of us slept much that night. I didn’t not sleep because of the deer but because my husband kept tossing and turning. He finally fell asleep early that morning and I didn’t want to wake him. So, his brother decided to go hunting by himself. When my husband did finally wake up he wanted to go look for his deer but he had to wait for his brother to get out of the woods.
                                                                                                         
That afternoon we went back into the woods. We started were the deer was shot and worked our way out in different directions. All the sudden I could hear my husband in the distance yell “Big Buck Down.”  He was in a thicket of honeysuckle about 150 yards from where he had shot. We had walked right next to him several times and didn’t even know it. I could hardly believe how big he was up close.

We were right he was 17 points. We spent the rest of the day showing him off to everyone we knew. It’s not everyday when your dreams come true. The time and effort really were finally all worth it. We knew he was big, so the next day when we had him measured. I guessed 180, my husband guessed 190, boy were we wrong.

He scored 215 4/8 gross non-typical. I think my husband was in shock he didn’t know what to say, he just kept saying, I knew he was big. It took two days to sink in I think, everyone kept saying how big he was and my husband would just stand there and nod. Next we took him to be mounted. He will soon grace my walls.

I told my husband no more deer heads in the house unless they were bigger than the others and he has 7 of what we think are trophies (120’s-160’s) on the wall. Well I guess he showed me! Now the rule is when you get a big one the smallest one in the living room gets moved to a different location. We spent all our spare time tracking down this deer but it was worth every minute. I guess what my husband says, hard work + determination (really does) = dead deer.

The buck grossed 215 5/8-inches and netted 202 inches. The big rack had a 20-inch inside spread.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

Here’s a picture of the rack being held by Greg Fender, owner of Affordable Tackle & Archery in Odin.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Tate entered the big buck contest at Fender’s business and Fender had friends take a cell phone picture of him with the buck. Before long that picture was circulated all over Illinois and the country.

“I never intended for that to happen,” Fender said. “I wasn’t taking credit for the deer or anything. I just held the rack for a picture and forwarded it to four or five of my friends.”

As proof of the rapid reach of e-mail and the Internet, that picture soon made the rounds everywhere. Below are more pictures of Tate and his trophy.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

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nice buck. It going to be a tough buck to top. Good luck.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/13 at 08:47 PM

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