Tales from the Timber: Horner
At first Kenny Horner seriously contemplated staying home and skipping the last day of the 2008 Illinois gun season.
He felt sick. The thermometer outside showed a chilly 4 degrees.
But something made Horner head for his stand one last time.
“When I did I thought this was probably the wrong thing to do,” said Horner, 51, who lives in Watseka. “But I figured I’d sit out until 8 a.m. to see if I felt any better. Then I figured I’d drive back to town and have breakfast.”
That all changed at about 7:55 a.m. when a “nice deer” came out of the Iroquois River bottoms, ran across an open bean field and approached Horner.
“I knew it was a nice deer, but I didn’t know what caliber,” said Horner, who nevertheless got out of his seat and onto one knee to be in good shooting position.
With his shotgun resting on the padded rail of his stand, Horner squeezed off a shot when the buck got to within 80 yards. But he missed.
“You go out and sight in your scope, well that’s a lot different than when a deer is moving,” he said.
Fortunately for Horner, the buck ran closer, coming to within 35 yards. “I didn’t even have time to put the scope on him, I just shot,” Horner said. This time his shot skinned the buck’s back, causing the deer to slow down.
Then as Horner tried to pump his Remington .870 Express shotgun, the third shell jammed. “I thought, ‘That was it, I’m not going to get this buck,’ ” Horner said.
But he finally got a shell in the chamber as the buck rambled to about 60 yards away. With the best buck of his 28-year hunting career running away, Horner made a perfect shot, sending his slug ripping through both lungs and across the top of the buck’s heart.
The big Iroquois County buck has a basic 10-point typical frame with two 3-inch kickers on each side. The right main beam measures 27 6/8 inches and the left side goes 27 4/8 according to Horner. The inside spread is 22 4/8 inches, the G2s are 12.5 inches long while the G3s measure 10.5 and 12 inches.
“It’s just a beautiful deer,” Horner said.
Horner hunts a small 12-acre patch of timber with fields on all sides. And he’s accustomed to seeing big deer in the area. In fact, he spotted this 12-pointer last summer on June 7 while scanning a corn field one-half mile from his hunting stand with his wife, Paula. Horner also has one shed antler from this buck found last year.
“My wife and I cruise all the time looking at the deer,” Horner said.
And 14 years ago while hunting on Dec. 3 he shot a 12-pointer in the same area. Unfortunately for Horner, three days after shooting that big buck he suffered a ruptured ascending aortic aneurysm that nearly claimed his life. He underwent emergency open heart surgery on Dec. 7. “Doctors tell me I’m lucky to be alive,” he said.
Lucky in a lot of ways, since 14 years to the day after his heart surgery he shot the biggest buck of his life.