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Just in the Nick of Time

November 23, 2010

Illinois hunting and fishing

Trophy Tidbits

Scorable Points: 6

Kill Date: 11/19/10

County: Lee

Season: Shotgun

It was finally here, opening day of shotgun season. I had made the 5-hour trip from Southern Illinois to my aunt and uncle’s house on Wednesday night after a successful day of pheasant hunting in central Illinois. I spent all day Thursday scouting the land trying to figure out which treestand was going to produce for me in the morning.

I decided on a stand on the corner of the property on a fenceline looking over a couple of winter wheat fields. I snuck into the stand real early on Friday morning, being completely set up by 5:50, with legal shooting hours being 6:20. At 6:00 I could make out the shadow of a deer crossing the trail 30 yards from the stand, I knew then it was going to be a good day.

About 7:00 I caught movement on the other side of the field, about 400 yards away. I checked out the big bodied deer in the binoculars and could tell that it was a decent buck. I watched him slip into the thicket I was hunting by and was left to wonder if he would ever show himself for a shot.

It took another 40 minutes, but felt like 3 hours, before I saw him again. This time he was heading along the edge of the field grunting and looking for the scent I had placed out. I could tell now that he was a unique deer, with nothing but a large fork on his left side. I waited for him to jump the fence and present me with a good broad side shot. He was standing just over 100 yards away as I put the crosshairs on him and squeezed the trigger. I knew instantly that I had hit him, but it was not a good shot as he haunched up like he was gut shot. I watched him slowly walk away and marked the last spot I saw him at.

I spent the next hour sitting restless in the stand waiting and hoping I had hit him good enough. I finally climbed down and and checked for blood. I walked over to a pretty good blood trail but decided to back out and give him another hour before tracking.

After a small breakfast and some game planning with my uncle, I returned to start the track job. My uncle went and set up in a stand nearby in case I jumped anything up while I was tracking. I started following the blood trail, which began to fade the farther I went. Then, my heart started to race as I looked into a dry creek bottom and saw what I believed to be my uncle next to a deer. I thought for sure he saw my deer when he walked into his stand. I quickly made my way towards the location only to be surprised by two more orange caps. I had no idea who these people were, but I soon realized as I approached them that they were gutting my deer and had it tagged already!!

I was in disbelief. I thought for sure I was going to have to argue and argue to get my deer that they had tagged already. I could tell by the unique large fork on the left side that this was in fact the deer I shot and some strangers were gutting him.

Luckily, after talking with the strangers they admitted that I had in fact killed the deer, but it was still unknown as to why or how they knew where the deer was laying dead. Nonetheless after a small discussion and informing them they were in fact trespassing, I finally had my trophy. Luckily I had eaten quickly and was quite anxious to get tracking because if I would have been 20 minutes later the strangers would have had the deer in the back of their truck and I would have been left wondering what had happened to my deer.

While he is not the largest buck I have harvested, he will be one of the most memorable not only for his unique rack, but for the interesting track job and the fact that it was the easiest gut job I have ever had since someone else had done it for me!

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