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Illinois hunting and fishing

Tales from the Timber: Mr. Velvet

March 10, 2009 at 03:48 AM

Rain and more rain was the weather forecast. But there was no way a little moisture was going to dampen our spirits. Not during deer season—a time of year we hunters dream about.

You know the feeling. Friends and family get together. The rut is in full swing, and you have a permit burning a hole in your pocket.

Deer season for Sean Cox of Greenville couldn’t come enough. Like thousands of hunters, he anticipates its arrival every fall. This year would be different. In year’s past, the hunting gods had only shown him bad luck. He has taken several deer with bow and shotgun, but never a true trophy.

Fall of 2004 brought high expectations. That season he was the only hunter on a large parcel of private land in Fayette County. 

But remember the weather forecast I talked about earlier? Rain, rain, and more rain. On top of that came warm temperatures. Just like 2003, the weather was very mild and most bucks were working at night. At least that’s what Cox expected.

After a bowl of venison stew, deer camp turned back the covers hoping for a good night’s sleep. Ya right! Who sleeps on deer season eve? It’s like children trying to go to sleep knowing Santa is on his way.

As the alarm sounded, hunters began dressing for the day’s hunt. Sean did the same, and was off to the woods. Opening day was extremely slow. Bad luck had reared its ugly face again. As the warm, wet morning progressed, Sean saw a few does, and morning turned into noon then afternoon brought the setting sun. Back at camp, his father-in-law, Byron Wright, had scored on a nice seven-point buck with three main beams. His brother-in-law had harvested a nice mature doe. But overall, deer sightings were limited. As the evening wore on, hunters came into camp with several other deer and many stories to pass the time.

Next morning, bright and early, Sean found himself in the same tree, in the rain, wondering if today would be the day. The area Sean was hunting is a river bottom with hardwood ridges, CRP fields and fields of cut corn and beans. The deer have everything there: food, shelter and water. 

Thinking the warm temperatures and rain would make for another long day on stand, Sean settled into his climber. Around 7 a.m., three does were being chased by a small buck. They were out of range, but it was still a good sign. Sean’s luck was about to change.

At 8:30 a.m. Sean heard a deer running towards him from behind.  It was a buck. It was a big buck. Sean started to scramble to stop the deer, but just as he did the buck came to a halt 10 yards away. “I did not have to grunt or whistle. He just stopped. Right out in the open. And I let him have it,” Sean said. “But the buck ran like he had never been touched. I knew I could not have missed.”

Suddenly, thoughts of a previous hunt quickly came to mind. After sitting on stand all morning in a different location, just four years earlier, Sean had decided to stretch his legs and make something happen. After climbing the next ridge, he saw an eight-point buck down in the hollow. At his shot, the buck dropped. 

“I could not believe it. That buck was down. I was starting to shake, and yell, and getting excited, and that buck jumped up and ran. There was no blood. Nothing,” Sean said. “I went from total elation to disappointment in a matter of seconds.”

Had the same thing happened again?

Sean climbed down the tree, and began looking for sign. The buck had run through a small patch of CRP towards a dry creek bed. As he walked toward where the buck entered the CRP, he could not believe his eyes. Sean recalls every minute of that experience. “I had never seen so much blood. I ran through the CRP, and followed the blood trail right to him. When I came upon him, I could hardly breathe. I was amazed. Not only was this my biggest buck ever; he was in full velvet. This buck had not rubbed a single tree. Every inch of that rack was covered in velvet. I could not believe what had happened to me. Then, I grabbed him and said a prayer. My luck had changed.”

You can just imagine the attention that eight-point bruiser received. Not only was he a trophy whitetail, his rack was covered in velvet. 

“At least 60 people at the check station took pictures of my buck,” Sean added. 

One conservation officer said he had seen nothing like this buck in 32 years of service to the DNR. 

After several years of hunting and many bow kills, Sean’s luck had taken a turn for the better.  “Just because the weather forecast looks grim, get out there, get in the woods, because you never know how your luck can change. Expect the unexpected during the rut,” Sean said. 

Mr. Velvet will live in the memories of many who saw him. But for the rest of Sean’s life, he lives above the mantle.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Look for Tales from the Timber every Tuesday at Prairie State Outdoors.com.

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who cares what the buck scored it is an awsome deer and a great story to go along with it

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/18 at 05:11 PM

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