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Illinois hunting and fishing

Five tales from the timber

November 29, 2009 at 06:25 AM

1. Pistol Packin’ Mama

Heading into last weekend, the last time Karen Leeper of Metamora (pictured above) fired her .44 magnum handgun was 2007. Leeper doesn’t use a shotgun due to a shoulder injury suffered years ago in a car accident. And in the last two seasons she had not had a deer in range.

But obviously she doesn’t need a long gun or long hours of practice. Leeper shot a doe on opening day of gun season and then bagged a 17-point Woodford County buck last Sunday.

“Luck, skill I don’t know how to claim it. I’m just tickled pink I got him,” Leeper said. “My husband says it’s quite an accomplishment to kill a buck with a handgun. I don’t know any better. The only deer hunting I’ve done is with a handgun.”

Husband Darren has five bucks on the wall but will have to make room for his wife’s trophy. Not only is Karen’s buck larger than those of her husband, the mature bruiser may well be the largest ever taken in Illinois with a handgun.

Illinois hunting and fishing

2. A long shot pays off

For a moment, Rick Hochstetter (pictured above) thought the shot was too far.

The monster buck he had been watching at 100 yards started walking away before stopping 140 yards in the distance. The sight bead on Hochstetter’s trusty Browning A5 just about covered the buck’s entire chest.

“I debated shooting, and then I said, ‘I think I can do this,’” the veteran Pekin hunter recalled. “That was the only deer I’d seen all day and I figured it was now or never.”

He was right. His long shot had just enough velocity to down the impressive 17-point Tazewell County buck with two 12-inch tines.

“When I skinned him out I found the slug and it hadn’t even mushroomed at all,” Hochstetter said. “I guess it ran out of gas after it hit his hide but was just enough to go through the vitals.”

Illinois hunting and fishing

3. Shooting above your age is good

As golfers age, an oft-heard goal is to shoot under your age. Just the opposite is true for young deer hunters, who aim to shoot a buck with more points than they have years.

No wonder Brandon Madson (pictured above) has bragging rights among Tremont teenagers. The 13-year-old shot a 16-point Mason County buck last Saturday.

That made up for the prior evening, when the same buck was approaching Brandon before being scared off by gunshots from younger brother Brock Madson, 11.

The brothers also shot at a 12-pointer early on opening day that father Jim Madson ultimately claimed. “They were arguing over which one killed it and I told them it’s something all three of us could share,” the father said.

And while Jim Madson admits he has his hands full taking two young sons into the woods, he wouldn’t have it any other way. “That’s what it’s all about,” the elder Madson said.

Illinois hunting and fishing

4. Old Faithful delivers

As hunting seasons pass, some tree stands or hunting shacks earn a special place in the hearts of hunters. Many are even given names — like Old Faithful, a hunting spot the Sherman clan of Brimfield can usually rely on for deer.

Last Saturday morning Luke Sherman (pictured above), who now lives in Champaign, was lucky enough to draw Old Faithful. True to form, the rickety wooden stand yielded an 11-point Peoria County buck with a 23-inch inside spread. That’s Luke’s fifth deer out of the stand and is thought to be the 75th the Sherman hunting group has taken out of Old
Faithful in 30 seasons.

“It’s just an old wooden stand about 20-25 feet high in a corner that overlooks a field,” Sherman said. “We’ve updated it over the years, but it’s still almost a little frightening to hunt in. But our motto is kind of to never leave Old Faithful unmanned.”

With good reason.

Thankfully, the Shermans were not on the list of hunter safety accidents last weekend. The Department of Natural Resources reported three falls from tree stands (two in Iroquois County, one in Jefferson County), one accidental discharge of a firearm in Grundy County and one hunter who died of a heart attack while in the woods.

Illinois hunting and fishing

5. Antlers attract The Nuge

Charlie O’Neill of Macomb (pictured above) was in the majority of firearm deer hunters last weekend. O’Neill shot a buck — an impressive 13-point McDonough county brute.

Of the 66,126 deer reported during the first season, 60 percent were bucks. Visit for a complete rundown on county kill totals.

While some hunt for meat, many are drawn by the allure of antlers. That’s why non-resident hunters flock to Illinois each fall and that’s what brought rocker Ted Nugent and his television crew to LaSalle County.

Nugent hunted all weekend on private ground near Starved Rock State Park, one day with DNR director Marc Miller. Nugent shot a doe and an 8-point buck. Word is Nugent’s buck was a nice one. But not as nice as O’Neill’s.


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

Jeff I must tell everyone the Madson Family from both Grandfathers on to the grandkids are all excelent hunters through patience, persisents and excellent hunting skills -that is what huning is all about. One thing Jim forgot to mention (maybe on perpose) was his wife’s 8 pointer that was also a nice one. Congrats to the Madson family!!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/30 at 07:29 AM

Rickey, I know this post is old but I hope you see this comment.  I went to the Illinois Deer and Turkey Classic this past year and found your deer to be my favorite out of them all!  Not only was it an amazing deer, but the taxidermy was outstanding on it and I was wondering if you could provide me with the name of your taxidermist?  I took numerous pictures of the gorgeous mount and just wanted to wish you congratulations on a deer of a lifetime!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/16 at 10:37 PM

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