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Zac Bitner’s 8-pointer

December 02, 2007

Illinois hunting and fishing

Trophy Tidbits

Scorable Points: 8

Kill Date: Dec. 2, 2007

County: Peoria

Season: Shotgun

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here’s is Zac Bitner’s story, in his own words.

I have been deer hunting for about 5 years. I have always hunted state ground in the Peoria area because it is so tough these days to find private property. Last year my luck changed and I fell in to a small piece of private property in Peoria County that had not been hunted in about 8 or 10 years.

I found a great spot the first day I scouted and hung my deer stand. It was about 10 yards from a creek and I was in a ravine. There was also a tall fence in front of my deer stand that made a great funnel. I waited until about Halloween to hunt because I didn’t want to spook out any deer before the rut. 
   
I was so excited the fist day I hunted. I went out to my stand at about 2:30 p.m. and there were 10 scrapes within 30 yards of my tree stand. I have never seen or even heard of so many scrapes in one place in my life. I had a feeling that it was going to be a great hunt. Sure enough in about one hour the buck of my dreams came down the side of the ravine and to the first scrape in his path. I drew the bow and released my arrow. 

I missed. I was devastated. The buck of a life time was 25 yards away and I missed two inches low. 

I continued to hunt that stand through November and never saw the big, mature, dominant buck again. I killed a really nice 10-pointer about a week after I missed the big one, but he was no where near the size of the one I missed. I figured he moved out of the area.
   
One day after a slow morning hunt I decided to take a walk through the woods just to see what I could see. Shotgun season was the next day and I usually don’t gun hunt deer. All you bow hunters know shotgun season kills bow season for a while. About 200 yards from my stand I came across a large oak tree that fell over during a storm over the summer. I was about 40 yards away from it and my big buck that I missed jumped out and took off running away. I was disappointed because I spooked him, but happy that he was still in the same county. I turned around in my tracks and went back to the truck.

I would like to mention that I am a diehard bow hunter. Like I said before, I usually don’t gun hunt. I am an Iraqi War veteran and former Marine, so I received one free shotgun tag that year as a “thank you” from the state of Illinois. I wasn’t going to use it but knowing that big buck was out there on my property I have permision to hunt was eating me up.

I didn’t step foot on that property again until noon on the last day of the second shotgun season. It had been raining off and on the night before and that morning. The ground was wet and there was a little bit of a breeze. I was going to walk to that dead tree and see if my big buck was still bedding there. It was a perfect day to “spot and stalk”. 

I circled aroud the bedding area so the wind was in my favor. The only problem was there was a hill between me and the old oak tree where I had last seen my buck. I knew I would only be about 20 yards away when I popped up over the hill and I would have to make a quick decision. I eased up the hill and as I got to the top I saw those giant antlers. 

I drew the gun and continued to walk up the crest of the hill to get a shot. The deer saw me and stood up broadside but only gave me about one second. I didn’t get time to squeeze the trigger and he turned and ran away from me. I put a bead on the top of his back as he was running down the hill away from me and pulled the trigger. He fell like a sack of potatoes and I stood there in shock. I walked up to him slowly and expected him to jump up. He was only 25 yards away from me when he hit the ground. When I got closer I realized the slug went in right below his skull. It severed his spine and that was it. Luckily the slug didn’t not go through his face. I found it later on lodged on the in side of his lower jaw bone. A couple of inches in any direction and I would have a big job trying to sew up his face before I put him on the wall. 

He turned out to be a big 8-pointer with 5 points on one side, 3 points on the other. He had a big knot in his leg where it had been broken in the past. I think that is why his rack was not symmetrical. Needless to say he is a giant, and the biggest deer I have ever killed by far. He is about a 150 class buck even with a bunch of deductions! Hopefully I will track down his big brother this year and I will get him with a bow this time. I didn’t even apply for shotgun tags! 

Thanks for reading my story and good hunting!

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