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Joel Eggers’ 11-pointer

October 23, 2007

Illinois Outdoors

Trophy Tidbits

Scorable Points: 11

Kill Date: Oct. 23, 2007

County: Randolph

Season: Bow

All it took was one glance and Joel Eggers knew.

He knew this was the buck. The whitetail crashing through the brush was the 11-pointer with the tall tines. This was the monster whose sheds he’d found in two of the three previous years—both sides last spring and one side in 2005. This was the deer he’d seen on video last summer when the buck stepped into a bean field about 150 yards away.

“I didn’t think I’d ever see him again in daylight with a bow in my hands,” said Eggers, who did not spot the buck at all last season and heard no other reports of sightings.

But he did while bowhunting on Oct. 23, 2007 in a patch of timber in Randolph County. A doe coming through the timber caught Eggers attention. What held his attention was the buck behind that doe. And one glance at the buck told Eggers all he needed to know that evening, just 25 minutes after he left work.

“I knew which deer it was. I knew he was a shooter,” said Eggers, 22, who works as an apprentice wireman for Burke Electric out of Murphysboro. “I was nervous because it was so big. So I tried to keep my composure.”

His approach? Don’t look back at the antlers—the same 11-point rack that has had deer hunters all over the country salivating in envy for the past month. The same rack that netted 198 1/8 inches when green scored. The same rack that will likely rank as the top whitetail deer trophy in North America this year.

The buck officially scored 190 6/8 inches at the Illinois Deer & Turkey Classic, where it topped all typical entries for archery or firearm hunting.

“I got a glance at him and I never really looked at the rack again until he was on the ground,” said Eggers, who lives outside the small southern Illinois town of Percy. “It helped keep everything together. I didn’t quite get the jitters like I had in the past when big deer came in. But you know what, I kind of wish now I had looked at him a little more.”

At least Eggers will get to look at the rack for the rest of his life. Here’s a picture of a jubiliant Eggers not long after he shot the buck,

Illinois Outdoors

A bowhunter since sixth grade, Eggers estimates he has killed 30 deer so far between shotgun and archery hunting. Of those, the best previous buck was a 14-pointer. He started bowhunting with his cousin, Brandon Sternberg of Steeleville, who is pictured below with Eggers’ 11-pointer. And both boys actually got started thanks to their uncle, Richie Eggers.

“We got some old cheap bows we both kind of learned as we went,” Eggers said. “Looking back with what we started with it was a lot different.”

Illinois Outdoors

Those years of experience prepared him for what happened the evening of Oct. 23. Eggers had decided to hunt on a hunch.

“I work and by the time I get I don’t even go out. A lot of times it seems you’ll ruin a spot if you just go in there and bust them,” Eggers said. “But on that day I just felt it was right. It was a good week. The weather and all the conditions were right.”

Conditions were damp and overcast. Perfect, Eggers, figured as he climbed 20 feet into his deer stand. About 20 minutes later, a small doe ran past. Then 10 minutes later another doe approached.

“I looked back behind the doe and saw his rack through the brush. I grunted at him to stop him, but he came in pretty fast—probably within a minute and a half of seeing him,” Eggers said. “The first time I grunted he didn’t stop. Then I grunted again and he stopped and looked toward me at 18 yards, quartering away.”

Though he knew this was a big buck, Eggers tried hard to block that out of his mind.

“I’ve messed up a on a few big ones over the years and I killed a nice one last year with my bow, so I guess all that paid off for me,” he said. “I really didn’t think about the deer. I just paid attention to my gear to make sure everything was right if it did happen. I made sure my arrow was on the arrow rest. I made sure my clothes were tucked in so nothing was going to get caught in my bow string.”

No problems there. With the deer standing at 18 yards, Eggers released an Easton Axis arrow from his 70-pound Hoyt compound bow. Just for the record, he was also using a Strictnine broadhead. His aim was good, as the shot caught the stomach and came out behind the front shoulder. The buck then ran 150-200 yards and stopped in an area of fallen brush. After lingering in the stand for only a few minutes, Eggers admitted he had to get down. “I was ready to get down and track him,” he said, noting that it was 5:30 p.m.

Once he found the buck dead, he start pondering the magnitude of this animal. The rack was massive, but so was the deer, which field dressed at 251 pounds.

“I had to figure out a way to get him out of there,” said Eggers, who got help loading the buck from his father, Doug Eggers.

From there, word of the deer spread like wildfire. First curious hunters and friends stopped by to see the buck. Then came calls from reporters and writers. North American Whitetail and Buckmaster magazines already have plans for articles in future magazines.

At first there was also widespread Internet speculation that the buck was going to surpass Mel Johnson’s world record 204 4/8-inch Peoria County buck. But Joel Eggers didn’t believe the hype.

“With his deductions and stuff, I figured he wouldn’t quite make 200 inches,” he said. “I mean, I knew it was close to the record, but I never thought it really would get there.”

That hunch also proved correct. Certified measurer Mike Umdenstock of Evansville measured the 11-point rack at 211 inches gross and 198 1/8 inches net after making deductions for abnormalities on both sides. After the mandatory 60-day drying period, the rack could shrink some and lose an inch or two. Even at that, it figures to rank among the top typical bucks shot in North America in 2007.

“(Missing the world record) isn’t disappointing at all. They say it’s almost like winning the lottery,” Eggers said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime deer.”

Illinois Outdoors

Eggers buck scores 190 6/8

The world of antler scoring can be a fickle one.

So it goes for bowhunter Joel Eggers, whose huge Randolph County 11-point typical buck wound up with a net score of 190 6/8 inches following the mandatory 60-day drying period. Eggers said scorer Tim Walmsley of Fowler assigned the buck a gross score of 208 7/8 inches. But the rack had a major deduction for some abnormal growth at the spot where the G4 point meets the main beam. A hole in the main beam appears to have been made by a parasite.

“I don’t know if a parasite burrowed in there or what, but it wound up making more growth on the G4 than on the main beam,” Eggers said.

Agreed measurer Tim Walmsley, “When they do that, sometimes they divert the growth. He had the sheds from the year before and they were clean, so it’s not a genetic thing. It was a damn bug hole.”

In this case, growth was diverted to the G4 point at the expense of the main beam, which wound up 5 inches shorter than the other beam. Those deductions, coupled with a 5-inch abnormal point and some other minor deductions, knocked Eggers’ buck back.

Eggers had hoped for more after the buck was green-scored at 198 1/8 inches earlier this year.

“If it hadn’t been for that parasite it would have been about 200 inches,” Eggers said. “But it is what it is. There’s nothing you can change.”

Even so, Eggers’ buck is believed to be the largest typical bow kill in Illinois and is probably larger than any typical gun kill. And he plans to bring the big buck to the Illinois Deer & Turkey Classic on Sunday. There’s also a short story about his buck in the February issue of North American Whitetail. He is expected to be the magazine’s cover story in July.

“It’s a monster 10-pointer. It just had some problems,” Walmsley said. “When I held that one I got a kick out of it. And there’s not many deer I get a kick out of any more.”

Eggers said he did not shoot another buck last season after killing his 11-pointer on Oct. 23, 2007.

“I killed three does but that was about it,” he said. Not that Eggers has lost the desire to hunt big bucks. Far from it.

“I’m not going to pass up any 3 1/2-year-old deer. I’ll still shoot one of those and I’ll still get excited about it,” he said.

Illinois Outdoors

Illinois Outdoors

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Here are pictures of shed antlers from the buck.

Illinois Outdoors

Illinois Outdoors

Illinois Outdoors

 

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