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Ernie Hires’ 30-pointer

November 18, 1994

Illinois hunting and fishing

Trophy Tidbits

Scorable Points: 30

Kill Date: Nov. 18, 1994

County: Edgar

Season: Shotgun

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here’s the story of Ernie Hires’ hunt for the buck he called Lucky, in the hunter’s own words.

One day before the 1994 firearm season on Nov. 17, Russ Lewsader and I talked over tactics for opening day. We would sit in pre-placed stands 100 yards apart on opposite hillsides along a small creek. Chances are good that deer in the area would elude walk-hunters in the rough creek bottom. We would bide our time in tree stands and hope to fill an either-sex and antlerless permit.

I ate a hearty breakfast at Dale Hollingworth’s home, an annual ritual, and later met Russ. We were aboard our stands by 5:10 a.m.

As I had believed they would, the deer funneled back to their bedding areas in the oak woods. Several does and three antlered bucks meandered past me at about 8:15 a.m. The group of deer headed directly toward my partner. A shot tang out from Russ’s direction. Twin fawns and a doe ran past my stand. The three deer eventually bedded 75 yards away in a small patch of knee-high grass. It has been agreed that only a wounding would cause either of us to leave his stand and request the other’s help. It was 9 a.m. and still no sign of Russ. This convinced me that my colleague had made a clean kill. Things were uneventful until 9:40 a.m., when the doe and her fawns broke from their beds and headed for thicker cover. Someone or something must have spooked them, I thought.

My attention focused beyond where the three deer had been bedded. A wide-antlered buck and a doe were headed straight for my position. The doe veered, but the buck jumped a fence and came directly toward me. It stopped 35 yards away behind a tree. The buck’s rack carried a drop tine and was a for-sure shooter. I refrained from looking at the rack and positions myself for the deer’s next move. After winding the air and peering from side to side, the buck trotted into full view in an attempt to reach the grown-up creek bottom. I pulled the trigger of my Remington 20-gauge Wingmaster. No immediate faltering from the deer induced me to follow up with two more running shots. AS a fourth shell was loaded, the mortally wounded animal slowed to a walk and began staggering. I fired a final shot. The huge whitetail reared on it’s hindquarters like a stallion and fell backward. It’s numerous tines buried deep in the mud, pinning the deer on it’s back, feet pointed skyward. It may have been the strangest demise of a deer I ever witnessed.

I let out a beckoning holler and a whistle. Russ knew something big had gone down. He headed toward the commotion and we met at the creek where we congratulated each other. Russ had filled his antlerless permit. We walked together to the buck in it’s final resting place. We tugged it’s rack from thick mud and began to count antler points. There were 17 per side, of which 30 were scoreable (1 inch or more).

The Edgar County deer was the highest-scoring non-typical harvested in Illinois during 1994. I give the deer the credit for the rack, not me. All I did was tag him. Russ Lewsader could of took him as easily as me.

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