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Gregory Zimmerman’s 10-pointer

November 16, 1999

Illinois hunting and fishing

Trophy Tidbits

Scorable Points: 10

Kill Date: Nov. 16, 1999

County: Cass

Season: Bow

As the morning reached 10:30, I debated getting out of my tree stand. I had seen nothing but countless squirrels all morning. The temperatures were nearing 70 degrees which was odd for being only a week away from Thanksgiving.

One day earlier I had sat in the same stand from one hour before daylight until it was to dark to see my pin. I saw a few does, and one buck—a 7-pointer, probably about 14 inches wide. He offered me a broadside shot at 20 yards and would have been the biggest buck I ever shot. But having already killed a small 6-pointer earlier in the year, I passed.

This was only my fourth year of bowhunting since moving to Illinois to go to school three years earlier. I had seen three or four big bucks on the public ground I was hunting over the last few years hunting there, but Murphy’s Law always seemed to be sitting in the tree next to me on those occasions. Then again, that is what makes archery hunting so special.

Anyway, back to the day at hand. Due to the heat I loosened up the zipper on my jacket because I was dressed too heavily. While scanning the woods back and forth, movement caught my eye in the creek bottom down below. I was excited and disappointed at the same time to see it was turkeys. I did have an archery turkey tag in my pocket, so all was not lost. I have learned the best way to get a turkey within bow range is not to buy a fall archery turkey tag. By the same token, having a tag would almost guarantee no shot.

I kept watching the turkeys below me, and could see that at least three of the four were big gobblers with beards dragging across the ground. They were about 75 yards below me working their way on a path that would bring them right by my stand. I moved my bow from my left to the right, what I thought I did ever so stealth like.

But the turkeys thought differently. They ran like tomorrow was Thanksgiving.

Dejected I now turned around quickly, and as I did my stand shifted on the tree slightly. The stand was still solid, but I was now sitting on an extremely uncomfortable angle. I looked at my watch and it was now 11:15 a.m. It was quite a bit warmer and I felt like I should be at the beach rather than bowhunting the final week before slug season.

I decided that I was going to get down and go back to the truck and take off some layers and eat. I debated whether to fix my stand now or when I returned for the evening’s hunt. For whatever reason I decide to do it first. I hung my bow with a arrow still knocked up on the hook instead of lowering it to the ground. I stepped off the platform onto my wrap around tree steps.

As I stepped off I heard a crunch in the leaves. I looked into the direction where the noise came from, and there was the biggest deer I ever seen while hunting 50 yards from me feeding. I quickly got back into my stand and took my bow of the hook.

The huge buck just kept walking steadily on a angle towards my stand. I had no idea how many points, or how big he was, just that he looked like a VW bus with antlers. I decided to draw my bow as soon as I got it back on my hand.

Everything at this point seemed like an eternity, but actually only probably took 30 seconds or less. When the buck was at 27 yards, he paused momentarily. As he did I let my arrow fly. I hit high and spined him. I saw him reach back with his mouth and bite the arrow out. It broke off, but my broadhead had severed the spinal cord and he dropped to the ground.

He tried getting up on his front legs, but I quickly made another shot that entered both lungs and liver. At this point he fell and began to slide down the hill. His body slid under a log, but his antlers got stuck, and prevented him from going further. I then witnessed him take his final breath.

Then I lost it. I still did not know exactly what I killed but I knew he was in a far different class then anything I ever harvested before. I started trembling and shaking severely, but I was so excited I got down out of my stand in about three seconds.

When I went over and saw my trophy I could not believe my eyes! He measured at 22 1/2 inches inside spread, a perfect 10 pointer that unofficially grossed over 155 inches with only a little under 2 inches of deductions. 

As I stood there admiring him, I thought about how many lucky things happened to me, that allowed me to take such a magnificent trophy. There were so many different possibilities that could have made this end differently, but this time, I Murphied Murphy’s law.

Luckily this time, my season changed for the better. I never had him weighed or aged, but the guy at the archery check station who had two on the wall scoring over 180 and had been bowhunting for 25 years, thought he was only 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 years old, and probably weighed over 250 pounds.

Illinois hunting and fishing

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