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Jamie Duke’s 12-pointer

October 31, 2009

Illinois hunting and fishing

Trophy Tidbits

Scorable Points: 12

Kill Date: Oct. 31, 2009

County: Putnam County

Season: Bow

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here in the words of Bloomington bowhunter Jamie Duke is the story of his hunt for a big Putnam County 12-point buck.

Halloween is quickly becoming one of my favorite holidays; although not for the traditional reasons most would think of. More so for the fervency to hunt and the luxury of being one of the few holidays that I can enjoy my passion for the outdoors.

This year was no different as I was woke at 3:30 a.m. to be on the road by 4:45 a.m. to make the draw at Marshall State Fish and Wildlife area for opening day of waterfowl season in the Central Zone.  We enjoyed some decent shooting at the Duck Ranch Unit as we were one of the lucky recipients of a permit for the given date.

Next on task was a trip to the deer stand; although I had some concern as most of my tree stands I believed to be surrounded by water since I hunt primarily in the flood plain on the Illinois River. It was with this knowledge that I approached a long time friend of mine, Wayne Sprague, and pleaded my case to hunt with him.  He assessed the situation for a minute and thought of where he might be able to place me in his timber to accommodate a west wind and have some success. After a moment of thought; he knew where I would be perched for the afternoon.

Backtracking slightly, I would like to mention why it is I claim Halloween to be one of my favorite holidays as of late. This began back in 1990, which found me at the ripe age of 10 years old and sharing a duck blind with my dad and younger brother. I harvested my first duck, a hen woodie, on a backwater near Henry.  Fast forwarding to 1994 found me in a flooded corn field-hunting ducks with my new friend Wayne Sprague. This was to be the first of many hunting excursions with Wayne. So; in a sense; just the enjoyment of heading out on a hunt 15 years down the road with Wayne was enough for me to consider the day a success.
We climbed into our tree stands at approximately 2 p.m. and I began to feel the effects of the 3:30 a.m. wake-up call as the sun beat down on me. I tried my best to keep a watchful eye as I situated my gear. The first hour passed fairly quickly and I sent Wayne a text on my cell to ask how he was doing and ask for advice on rattling. Advice such as when to begin, how often etc.

His advice was to start right in and rattle about every half an hour. So I did at about 3:05 p.m., which lead to my first sighting at about 3:30 p.m.  What I believed to be a young buck came in at about 60 yards downwind of me and approached the edge of the timber entering some scrub brush at which point I lost track of him. A few grunts must have fallen on deaf ears, as I never did see him after that. 
So I continued on with my rattling sequences; once again mimicking a raging battle at 3:43 p.m. and another at 4:10 p.m. 

As I stood scanning the timber and receiving a text from my fiancée Chelsea at about 4:29 p.m.; I caught a glimpse of what I believed to be buck number two coming in for a closer look.  I honestly didn’t think much of it and dismissed him as inferior upon first glance and went about my business. It wasn’t until the second glance that I realized I had a shooter heading right at me as he ducked under a low lying limb in his advance.

It was at this point I swapped my cell phone for my bow and began to monitor the situation. It was like something out of a daydream: he just kept on coming right towards me on a path that ran parallel to my tree and would deliver him at about 10 yards if he traversed on his current route. So it was, delivering him at approximately 12 yards.  His quick glance to the adjacent winter wheat field allowed me to draw and take aim on the brute that was quartering away. I released and delivered what I thought to be a well-placed arrow in his lungs, although I had concerns about the angle as I figured it must have intersected his opposite shoulder blade since a majority of the arrow was still visible when he began to bolt away from the scene. 

The nerves set in and I began to shake, more so than usual for those who know me. I sent Wayne a frenzied text explaining the aforementioned events to which he replied, “Do not go look for him. Let him go and we will give it some time before we look.”  This was a very agonizing time for me as I was very apprehensive about the probability of the blood trail being weak due to the nature of the shot. 

So it was when we began to look for the deer and did not find one drop of blood.  We followed the alleged escape route that took us into a ravine west of my stand. I was very nervous at this point realizing that we may not be able to find him although I still felt I made a good shot. So it was a great relief when Wayne says, “Well; how bad do you want to know where he’s at?”  I glance over to him and notice the sinister smile that told me everything I needed to know about his discovery.  There he was, finalizing yet another great first on a Halloween hunt with a long-time hunting buddy.

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Great story and really good picture! Was that professionally taken? lol.
Congrats on a great deer, you deserve it.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/09 at 09:44 AM

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