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Illinois hunting and fishing

Todd Mitchell with a buck taken during shotgun season.

Deer hunters thrive on second chances

December 05, 2010 at 07:11 AM

The State Journal-Register

Every culture has its value system. If you convened an electoral college of deer hunters, Todd Mitchell might get elected leader.

Mitchell, of Chatham, has been successful this fall with both bow and shotgun, filling his freezer and those of his family members.

One morning this fall, he was bowhunting near Pleasant Plains and bagged an “incredible old buck.”

Moments later, three does came into the clearing.

“I felt like Fred Bear, man,” Mitchell says, referring to the famous bowhunter. “I would have provided for the whole village. They would have made me chief.”

That wasn’t the end of the story, though.

During the first weekend of firearm season, he took another nice buck.

They say all politics is local, and the same thing could be said for hunting success.

A deer hunter may find the going slow in one area while miles away another celebrates a landslide of good luck.

Those still hoping for luck to shine on them are back in the woods this weekend for the second segment of the traditional firearm deer season that ends Sunday.

During the first weekend, Nov. 19-21, Illinois hunters killed more than 63,000 deer. Archery hunters, as of mid-week, had taken more than 56,000.

How do you stop a deer from charging?

Jimmy Spellman of Divernon hunts near Pawnee south of Springfield.

He killed a 10-point buck that weighed 195 pounds field-dressed.

“I shot at it and it went right over its back,” Spellman says. “It went down to the creek, and I couldn’t see it anymore.

“So I reloaded my gun, looked in my sight, and it was running right toward me.”

Fortunately for Spellman, the buck wasn’t sure were the hunter was hiding.

“I think it was confused,” he says. “It didn’t know where the gunshots were coming from, so it picked a direction and ran right toward me.”

Spellman says that before his buck ran the wrong way, hunting season had been slow.

“Still, this was my first deer I shot, and I am pretty excited to get back out there.”

By the skin of his teeth

Mike Fulk of Lincoln bagged a big buck on the second day of the first shotgun weekend.

At one point in the morning the fog rolled in.

“It got so darned thick, I couldn’t see anything outside a 50-yard radius of my stand,” he says.

Fulk was facing away from the point where his buck appeared.
“I heard some noise and saw a squirrel running through the leaves,” he says. “The buck came through the fog out of some head high CRP grass.

“I literally made too much movement (in his effort to turn around), but the deer showed no interest in me,” Fulk says.
“He was busy watching the squirrel.”

Figuring he had used up his one lucky break, he raised his gun but couldn’t get his gloved finger inside the trigger guard.

He laughs as he tells of pulling his glove off with his teeth so he could take the shot.

Family Law

The Law family seems to be working on a dynasty, as both father and son managed to be virtually in two places at once this season.

Matt Law, who operates a gunshop out of his garage in Litchfield, and his son Brian, hunted one day and 150 miles apart when they downed big bucks.

“Brian called his in, and had about a 35-yard shot,” Matt says. “It didn’t go far at all.

“He’s the hunter in the family — a dedicated deer hunter.”
Matt took his deer with a bow.

“I grunted and he stopped and I put an arrow in him,” Matt says.

Apparently, hunting runs in the family. Matt and his wife are hunting together this time around.

“We’re going out this weekend,” he says. “I’ve seen a lot of big deer this year, I guess because the crops are out early.”

Parting shot

Like a lot of successful hunters — and politicians, Mitchell has thrived on second chances.

“The beauty of archery season is that an idiot like me gets a second chance.”

Chris Young can be reached at 788-1528.

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