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Mark Schafer’s 19-pointer

November 16, 2007

Illinois hunting and fishing

Trophy Tidbits

Scorable Points: 19

Kill Date: Nov. 16, 2007

County: Jasper

Season: Shotgun

It was opening morning of the 2007 Illinois Firearm Deer Season. I arrived at my stand about 6 a.m. I was set up in a fence row about a quarter mile from a 50-acre woods with a pasture to my left and bean stubble to my right.

I had seen several deer that morning, but nothing that I wanted to shoot this early in the season. It was a pretty typical morning until something happened that could’ve turned out much worse than it did. I have been hunting deer for over 20 years and have never let this happen before.

It was a little past 9 a.m. My plan was to stay in the stand until 10 a.m. I was getting tired of sitting so I decided to stand awhile. I stood up and was scoping out the surrounding landscape for deer. I had the butt of the gun on the deer stand and was holding onto the barrel. As I looked around I must have walked the butt of the gun to the edge of the platform and it slipped off. I had been in the stand for three and a half hours and was feeling the affects of the cold. My fingers were getting numb so my reaction time was too slow to catch the falling gun. 

As my gun crashed to the ground I had a sick feeling of what just happened and what the outcome could have been. I was very lucky it didn’t go off. I climbed to the ground to survey the damage to my 870 Remington 12 gauge shotgun with slug barrel and rifle sights. I picked up the gun, looked it over, and noticed that the back sight tips were broke off and that the remaining adjustable part had been shoved forward about a half of an inch. It must have hit the platform.  I was sick. 

I thought I might as well head to the truck.

I looked around to see if there were any deer in the area and noticed a doe sticking her head out of the woods. I watched her for about a minute or so and thought it was odd that she was extra cautious about moving out of the woods. So I decided to climb back into the stand to see if maybe she had some company with her. I made it back into the stand and doe still hadn’t moved. 

I kept watching and finally she jumped into the open field and without hesitation started trotting across. Following close behind was a huge buck.  My mouth dropped and my heart raced. “Holy cow,” I thought. The biggest buck I’ve ever seen was headed my way and my gun sights were trashed. There was no way that I was going to get him even if I got the opportunity to shoot. 

But the deer were angling across the field in my direction. He was about 75 yards away when I decided that’s as close as he was going to get. With the shot window closing, I pulled up while he was still at a trot. I had no idea where my slug was going to go. I aimed where I thought my sights should be, led him about three feet, aimed about head high, and pulled the trigger. 

It was a direct hit right in the front left shoulder. He stumbled and stopped momentarily. “Yes!” I thought. Then he headed directly at me. 

Again my shot window was closing so I decided to take another shot. He was about 50 yards away this time. I hit him in the neck and he went right down. As it turns out, it was a good thing I took another shot. We noticed after skinning the deer that the first shot had not made it past the front shoulder blade. I would have never found him. I hurried out of the stand. 

I was very excited and very lucky in more ways than one. The deer weighed 320 pounds before field dressing and had 19 scorable points.

Illinois hunting and fishing

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