Firearm hunter Brook Stanbary of rural Putnam shot this 21-point Putnam County buck on Nov. 16, 2007. The buck grossed 223 2/8 inches when green scored.
Big year for big bucks in Illinois
There is still a month to go in the 2007-08 deer hunt, but this is already shaping up to be one of the best big-buck seasons in years.
Results from the first shotgun season indicate gun hunters are following the lead of bowhunters by posting their own share of impressive trophy whitetails. As previously reported, shotgunners racked up a record kill by shooting 85,490 whitetails during the first weekend. And according to taxidemists across central and northern Illinois, a good number of those deer sported trophy racks.
Consider the scene at Emken’s Taxidermy in Yates City on the Tuesday after the first firearm season. There on the floor of the shop were six monster racks—five of which should top 200 inches and a sixth that will be close to that elusive figure. That pile included Marty Sharp’s 243-inch Knox County bruiser as well as several other massive central Illinois trophies. Moments later another 200-incher walked in the front door of taxidermist Dave Emken’s shop being carried by Brook Stanbary.
Stanbary, who lives in rural Putnam near Lake Thunderbird, shot his 21-pointer on Friday, Nov. 16, 2007 at about 4 p.m. in northwest Putnam County. He was hunting with a 20-gauge shotgun and shot the buck at roughly 35 yards. Wrote Stanbary of his deer:
“My father-in-law spotted this buck in the morning but was unable to get a shot. In the afternoon, I had the opportunity to hunt a stand near that location. The buck was kind of a ghost. I just looked up and he was standing broadside at 35 yards looking up at me. Thankfully the wind was to my advantage and it gave me time to make the shot. I made a good shot and the buck didn’t go far.”
Luke Steen of Wolf Hollow Archery in Rome green-scored the buck at 223 2/8 inches (gross) and 216 5/8 (net).
And while epizootic hemmorhagic disease took a toll on big bucks in west-central and southern Illinois, there are still big bucks being taken in those parts of the state.
243 (net)—Firearm hunter Marty Sharp of Gilson shot his 20-pointer on Nov. 16, 2007 in Knox County. Click here to read more about his buck. Sharp shot his buck on opening day of the 2007 Illinois firearm deer season at about 3 p.m. after letting several does and small bucks pass by his stand, which overlooks a thick patch of Knox County timber. “If a deer is 60 yards away in there you wouldn’t even see them,” said Sharp, 46, who has been hunting deer for 35 years. Maybe that’s why he never noticed a buck approaching while having a cell-phone conversation with his father, William J. Sharp.
“I hung up the phone and turned to my right side and there (the buck) was about 30 yards away and walking right to me,” Marty Sharp said. “There was no buck fever to it. I just grabbed the gun. He came to me broadside and I let him have it behind the front shoulder.” Once hit the buck bolted, though fortunately for Sharp he ran in the right direction. “He came right back to me and I shot him again,” Sharp said.
216 5/8 (net)—Firearm hunter Brook Stanbary of Putnam shot his 21-pointer on Nov. 16, 2007 in Putnam County. The deer’s impressive rack grossed 223 2/8 inches. During one passing glance to his right last Friday evening, Stanbary spotted a huge buck just 35 yards away. “He had come up over a ridge and was staring at me. I had the gun at the base of the stand and I knew it was now or never,” Stanbary said. “Big deer like that can be gone in a split second.” So Stanbary reached for his 20-gauge shotgun, shot once and then hoped for the best. The buck ran just 75 yards before crashing down. “You look back at a situation like that and play it back and if I had been two seconds later looking that way he’d probably have been gone and I’d never have known he was there,” Stanbary said.
210 (net)—Firearm hunter Dave Castleberry of Florida shot his 23-pointer while hunting in Schuyler County with Golden Triangle Whitetails, an outfitting group owned by Michael Pavlick of Orland Park. ‘‘He saw it Saturday in first light in a thicket downwind,’’ Chicago outdoor legend Spence Petros told the Chicago Sun-Times. ‘‘Every half-hour, he heard an ‘urph.’ After three hours, he took an aggressive grunt call. A grunt came back, and the deer came out of the thicket. It stopped behind a tree. One more grunt, and he could see the hair raise on its back.’‘
201 7/8 (net)—Firearm hunter Deric Kimler, 18, of Williamsfield shot his 15-point Fulton County buck on Nov. 17, 2007 at about 8:30 a.m. “I had to shoot it left handed because it was behind me and I didn’t get a good shot off with the first shot,” said Kimler, who has in a treestand for the first time this year that morning. “At first I gut shot him, but he got tangled up in some brush and I walked over to him and finished him. The brush helped me out. I figured otherwise he would have got up and would have been running.”
211—Bowhunter Greg Ahlgren of Kewanee shot his 20-point buck Nov. 13, 2007 at 3:50 p.m. in Henry County. Ahlgren had hunted more intensely than ever before in his 13 years of bowhunting without seeing a shooter buck prior to this trophy. But his luck changed quickly. “After only 40 minutes in the woods, the 211-inch green scored buck walked within 10 yards of Greg. After a good shot the buck traveled only 25 yards and dropped. The buck has a 9-inch drop on his right side, and had a matched drop tine on his left that apparently broke off in velvet. The buck field dressed at 237 pounds.”
“I didn’t know exactly what I had shot except I knew he was the biggest buck I had ever shot, I thought I heard him drop just a short distance away, but didn’t chance anything and got out of the woods and waited for my two bow hunting buddies Jay & Greg to get done hunting before we started to look for him. After only a very short tracking we found him and the rest is history. I always wanted a buck with a drop tine and know I have one on the wall.”
209 5/8 (gross)—Talk about premonitions. Before he even left school back on Nov. 5, 2007
Pittsfield High School senior Bryce Frieden joked about shooting a 200-inch buck. And he was correct. Frieden needed just 30 minutes in his stand near Griggsville before he killed his impressive 16-point typical buck at about 4:45 p.m. The deer green scored 209 5/8 inches.
“People really have kind of been stunned when they see the size of it,” Frieden told the Quincy Herald Whig. “Most people have been really sincere about being happy for me taking it.” Frieden used a bleat can call to get the buck’s attention. The deer then walked in to Frieden, who tried hard not to look at the buck’s antlers. The buck walked to within 15 yards. “I couldn’t even say anything,”
206—Bowhunter Stan Toennies of Highland shot his 21-point buck in Marion County at 8 a.m. on Oct. 20, 2007. The buck green-scored 206 inches. “This deer came as most do in the early season, I did not see him until he was 40 yards away and closing. I was up about 28 or 30 feet while allowed me to stand and get positioned for the shot,” Toennies wrote. “He was a steady walk and just about to clear some brush. My plan was to draw and stop him at about 10 yards. As I drew he heard me, stopped cold and stared in my direction. He had just barely cleared the brush and was 6 yards away. I was able to make a good shot and he only went about 80 yards before he was done.”
204—Bowhunter Jim Deppe took this 18-point Cass County buck with a bow in mid-November on his land in Cass County. It has an approximate gross green score of 216 inches non-typical and should net around 204 inches non-typical. Deppe said he missed this buck with his bow in 2006 and found an antler shed off him this last spring. Knowing the buck would be in the area this fall, Jim hunted 22 days straight before being able to arrow him.
200 3/8—Bowhunter Dave Gorisek of Mark shot his 17-point LaSalle County buck with a 25-inch inside spread on Nov. 11 at 2:10 p.m. Wrote Gorisek: “I scheduled vacation from Nov. 7-14 to try to hit the rut. Had several encounters with big deer early on but either had too much junk in the way or couldn’t get them to stop to get a shot. Then the weather got warm and the sightings slowed until Nov. 11, when this guy showed up. I hunted that morning until 10:30 a.m. and saw one smaller buck and several does. I headed back out at 1:30 p.m and was in my stand and set up by 2:00. Then at 2:10 I saw a body come up the hill west of me.
“I couldn’t tell what it was right away so I grunted six times very aggressively. That got his attention. Then I snort wheezed and he came in on a string. I drew on him when he was about 50 yards away while behind a big tree. He got within 18 yards and stood there for what seemed like an eternity looked for what it was calling him out. Of course, I had no shot because of too much thick stuff. Not seeing the buck that was making all of the noises, he turned and walked straight away from me. At this point I started to get sick to my stomach. Still at full draw I begged him to turn left and he did and presented me with a 25-yard broadside shot. The rest is history.”
MORE BIG BUCKS AND BIG BUCK PICTURES TO COME