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Max Letterly’s 8-pointer

November 22, 2008

Illinois hunting and fishing

Trophy Tidbits

Scorable Points: 8

Kill Date: Nov. 22, 2008

County: Scott

Season: Shotgun

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here in the words of Lincoln firearm hunter Max Letterly is the story of his hunt for a Scott County 8-point buck.

I arrived in Scott County on Thursday afternoon to do some scouting. I was disappointed to see that they were disking the cornfield across from my stand, knowing that the recent activity would not help keep deer in the area. I saw a ton of deer here during archery season, so I figured I would go ahead and hunt there on Friday. 

I only saw a couple of deer during my day-long hunt on Friday. One of which was a big 8-pointer chasing a doe. The problem was that they were on the neighbor’s property on the other side of the creek. Knowing that the deer was in the area, and hoping that none of the neighboring hunters had shot him, I returned to the same stand on Saturday morning.

I had not seen a single deer by 8:45 so I set my gun down and turned around to pack up my gear. I didn’t hear a sound but when I turned back around there was the huge 8-pointer at 30 yards. He was staring right at me! I quickly grabbed my gun and sat down again, while taking aim. None of this spooked him and he actually came in closer to almost 20 yards. I took the shot. He bolted off through the timber towards the creek. 

I struggled to reload my CVA Optima Pro muzzleloader, my hands now shaking with buck fever. I climbed down from my stand and called my brother-in-law Scotty Battin, who was actually featured on Prairie State Outdoors for his 200-inch 17-pointer. When he arrived we set off to track the deer. There was a thicket on the other side of the creek and we thought he was bed down in there. As we were following the blood trail on the other side of the creek I spotted him walking slowly about 100 yards ahead on the side of the hill. 

We ran ahead to try and cut him off. He must have been moving faster than he looked because when we reached the other side of the hill we only found more blood trail. As we followed the blood into the CRP, Scotty told me to be ready since he was probably bedded down in there. 

Sure enough, we jumped him and again he ran off, this time towards the timber on the other side of the CRP. We stopped for a few minutes, knowing that he couldn’t make it far. When we reached the timber I spotted him lying down in the brush. He raised his head and I took a follow up shot at around 40 yards.  Somehow I missed and he bolted off again. I only had two shots for my muzzleloader, so we walked back to the truck to get our shotguns.

When we returned we picked back up on the blood trail and followed him back onto the grass lane bordering the CRP. While we were walking, a deer jumped up and bolted off on the side of the hill next to us. At the same place, the blood trail virtually disappeared. Assuming that was my buck, we walked the entire hill looking for blood or any sign of him. We then returned to the road and started looking for any sign of him in the CRP.

I was getting disheartened, thinking I blew it when I missed him. Scotty, who has tracked a ton of deer, insisted that he couldn’t have gone far. After about an hour of fruitless searching, I finally found a piece of bloody corn on one of the trails in the CRP. Scotty came towards me on the trail he was on and the next thing I knew he was yelling for me. The deer was finally down.

He is the biggest deer I have ever shot. Thank God we were able to find him. The only problem now was that we were about a half mile from the trucks. After dressing the deer we began our trek back through the CRP, across the creek, through the dry creek bed I was hunting over, and up across the levee. When we finally reached the trucks I was able to celebrate. All of my hard work and determination finally had paid off with a beautiful 8-point buck. 

I’d like to thank Scotty for all of his help. I would not have been able to find this deer without him. I will never forget this experience that I got to share with him.

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