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Illinois Outdoors

Clyde Winkler, 88, of Washburn shot this 21-point Marshall County buck during the first firearm season in 2005.

Fate winks at 88-year-old deer hunter

November 15, 2007 at 05:15 AM

Clyde Winkler figures at this point in his life, every hunting season is a good one.

No question some are better than others, though. And none can match the latest for this Washburn resident, who could easily pass for a decade younger than his 88 years.

Winkler capped an awesome autumn by shooting a 21-point, trophy buck two weeks ago during the first firearm season. The buck wound up being even more exciting than a Canada goose Winkler shot in September that had metal leg bands on both legs and that earned him a $100 reward (which he spent on shotgun shells).

So while he didn’t fill another tag during last weekend’s second firearm deer season, Winkler has no complaints.

“Somebody told me I ought to buy a lottery ticket. The good Lord really blessed me with that trophy,” Winkler said of his deer, whose wide rack spanned 29 inches. “That’s a lot of ivory.”

A lot of antler, actually. More than Winkler has seen in nearly 50 years of stalking whitetails through timber in Woodford and Marshall County.

The retired farmer has hunted deer since Illinois’ first modern season in 1957. Longer than that if you count war-time experience.

Winkler will tell you he was among the troops who stormed the beaches of Normandy on his June 6 birthday in 1944. But he’d rather discuss post-war experiences like a memorable big-game hunt in Germany.

“We were tired of K rations and were hungry for fresh meat. So a buddy from North Dakota said, ‘Wink, let’s go out and shoot a deer or elk.’” Winkler said. “I drove the jeep and he held onto a .50-caliber machine gun. And by God we got a big elk.

“You know, that was pretty good eating.”

Winkler has been hunting ever since, chasing ducks, gray squirrels, coyotes, wild turkeys and deer. Though he tires more easily these days, Winkler still prefers walking to his tree stand. And he still puts in his time.

On opening day he stayed up a tree all morning, passing up a marginal shot at a doe. Winkler returned for an afternoon hunt and was rewarded when a big buck suddenly materialized in a clearing 75 yards away.

“I could hardly believe my eyes. At first it looked like a big moose or elk,” he said. “I thought ‘Clyde, if you’re ever going to get a trophy you’d better get him now.’”

With one shot Winkler did just that, downing his Marshall County buck at about 3:45 p.m. on opening day. Before long, hunting buddies Tom and John Phillips had spread word that “Clyde got a great big deer.”

“By the time we got him down to the road, there were 10-12 vehicles there wanting to see that big deer,” Winkler said.

The scene had to be reminiscent for Winkler, a life-long outdoorsman who trapped for spending money in high school, started duck hunting before that and was sprayed with 17 shotgun pellets while turkey hunting in 1990. After all, he lived through the days when sighting any deer was big news.

“Way back when I was a kid, there was one deer around here near Cazenovia. It was in pasture with some cattle and my dad and the game warden would spend time watching it,” Winkler said. “They figured it must have got out of a zoo in Chicago.”

Hard to imagine that now, since deer carcasses piled up along roadsides barely warrant a glance anymore.

Some deer still make headlines, though. Deer like the buck that will someday hang in Winkler’s living room.

“I don’t suspect,” he said, “I’ll ever shoot one bigger.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story appeared in the Dec. 6, 2005 Peoria Journal Star.

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Anyone know if this man is still hunting today?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/20 at 04:29 PM

Congradulations Mr. Winkler!!  Some things make a lifetime of waiting worth it.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/24 at 07:51 PM

This is my grandpa! Coolest person I’ve ever known. The buck is now mounted on his living room wall…HUGE! I’m so proud of him and he deserved this. I really enjoy hearing him tell the stories of hunting experiences. Good job, Grandpa!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/09 at 11:35 AM

Hello Gillgrabber.
You asked on the Comment section of the article ‘Fate winks at 88-year-old deer hunter’ if Clyde was still alive and hunting. He is smile and he is my grandfather. The buck is mounted on his lving room wall and he is very proud of his trophy. He recently had a stroke about a year and half ago and since his stroke he has travelled to North Dakota to fish for pike, gone turkey hunting and just got his tags to go out deer hunting again this year. He has had two heartattacks, two strokes, shot in the face by another hunter, fought in WWII and survived cancer. I asked him in June while I was visiting him if he would still go out hunting after his stroke and he said ‘As long as I can load a gun, by God, I’m sure as hell going to go hunting’. He’s the coolest person I know and I’m proud to have his genes. He is currently 92 so I know I have a promising future with a very long life expectancy.
Thank you for your time.
Kelly Brown,
Sioux City IA

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/09 at 12:08 PM

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