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Mike Federman’s 10-pointer

November 20, 2009

Illinois hunting and fishing

Trophy Tidbits

Scorable Points: 10

Kill Date: Nov. 20, 2009

County: Vermilion

Season: Shotgun

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here in the words of shotgun hunter Mike Federman is the story of his hunt for a 10-point Vermilion County buck.

I hunt very small woodlots and hedgerows in Vermilion County.  Not the quantity or quality of bucks that some hunters enjoy.  With all the corn and mud, we had experienced a very disappointing early archery season.  Passed on some small bucks, but very little action overall.  On one particular evening, however, I saw the buck I had been seeing occasionally for the past three years.  Stepped out of the corn 200 yards away and right back in.

When the shotgun opener came around, I had decided to hunt a spot we refer to as the “hot corner”, a funnel location where I had previously harvested six bucks in recent years.  This was the same spot where two of us had seen ZERO dear during several archery hunts. So, my confidence was not what I hope for.

I approached my parking location about one hour before shooting time. I had my turn signals on, when all of a sudden a doe ran across the road in front of me.  Right behind her was a large buck. They ran into a cornfield (of course) that bordered my hunting spot. That woke me up, but I figured that by the time I parked, got all my stuff ready and walked 1/3 mile into my stand, I did not have to worry too much about seeing those deer again that morning.

It was very foggy and as I walked in to my stand location, I could smell a very strong smell that reminded me of buck tarsal gland.  Still have not figured out exactly what that was about. Anyway, I worked my way into the wood and set up against a large oak tree.  There is a brushy drainage that extends from the highway to my stand location that came in from my right side. As shooting time approached, I could tell I had set up at the wrong tree. The tree I wanted was 30 yards directly behind me. Where I was, I could not see the entire drainage. What to do. I hated to move, but something told me I was in a bad spot. So as quietly as I could, I gathered my stuff and slipped back to the other tree.

Before I could even put down some cover scent (red fox), a movement caught my eye. I saw the horns and new it was a shooter-buck, 40 yards away and quartering away. As I turned to get into position for a shot the buck saw the movement and stopped.I had an open shot.  I settled the gun on my trigger-stick put the cross hairs just behind the front legs and squeezed off a round from my 20 gauge NEF Ultra slug. 

Nothing happened. The buck stepped forward into a meadow and I could not determine if he was hit or not. 

By that time I had reloaded. Still no sign of a good hit. A huge cornfield and a very dense berry thicket was only 50 yards from the buck’s location. I did not want that deer to make it to either one, so I fired again. That time the buck lurched and fell to the ground. 

Thinking to myself, well that did it, I reloaded and looked around for the doe that he was following earlier. Catching some movement, I looked back at the buck and he was getting up and moving back into the woods. I thought I had a shot at his neck so I shot again. Down he went. I waited for a couple of minutes and walked over to him.

A nice 10 pointer lay before me. What a great buck, I thought to myself. How fortunate that something made me get up and change locations.  I would not have seen that buck if I had stayed at my initial stand. He would have crossed behind me. As wet as it was, and as deaf as I am, I probably would not have even been aware of him moving 40 yards behind me.

Upon reflection, there is a very good chance that this is the buck that I had seen a few times over the past three years. Probably more luck than skill, but I will be eternally grateful for the opportunity to harvest this buck.

By the way, when I field dressed the buck,  there were two bullet holes about 1 1/2 inches apart right behind the front shoulder. The deer was mortally wounded after the first shot and I could not tell. I apparently missed the third shot at the neck through the brush.

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