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Illinois hunting and fishing

Tales from the Timber: Pulfer

March 31, 2009 at 05:05 AM

In 2003 I was living north of Chicago. With no place local to hunt, I traveled back “home” to hunt on some rugged strip-mine ground in Fulton County. I intentionally hunted the high ground because getting a deer out by myself was doable.

The low ground or “bottoms” was another story. The mine company piled the spoils in such a way that it created steep, almost sheer drop-offs into the bottoms. This made it impossible to get an ATV down there (not that I had one).

With this in mind, I concocted an idea of using a boat winch to retrieve a deer from the bottoms if necessary. I put 80 feet of rope on the winch and attached a strap so that I could anchor it to a tree. I also purchased a heavy-duty plastic toboggan to help drag my deer. The toboggan has proven to be one of my better investments.

I spent 10 days bowhunting there in early November. I passed up shots at several small bucks but had no opportunities to take a doe. On the last afternoon of my trip I twisted my right knee while climbing up out of the bottoms!

I returned 10 days later for the first shotgun weekend. I managed to get around the property alright wearing just a cheap knee brace until late Sunday afternoon. I was crossing a creek when a rock shifted under my right foot causing my already weak knee to buckle. The pain was excruciating!

I had to crawl up out of a ravine to get back to my truck. I had a long painful 200-mile trip back home and no deer to show for it. I thought that there would be no way that I would be able to come back to hunt the second gun season. I worried that this might be the first time in20 years that I wouldn’t harvest a deer.
I hobbled around home and work for the next week and a half. The knee did get to feeling better again. I returned to Fulton County for the second shotgun season with two unfilled permits and a heavy-duty knee brace.

The first day of season arrived with six inches of new snow and no deer. Friday, the second day, I shot a nice doe in mid-afternoon. The scary part was that I had to drag her out of the same ravine where I had blown my knee out during the first season. Fortunately the toboggan and the knee brace both worked wonderfully.

With one tag filled and a new found confidence in my knee brace, I decided to take a chance and hunt the bottoms the next morning.

I awoke Saturday morning with the sun coming through the trailer windows—I had overslept! It was already 7 a.m. I quickly ate, dressed and headed for my stand in the bottoms. The temperature was in the low teens which made the snow crunch annoyingly loud with each step. I laughed and thought to myself—what a waste of time this is! The sun was fully up and I was making more noise than a herd of cows; every deer in the county must hear me! I continued to my stand.
The cold was just starting to numb my toes when I heard a loud commotion coming from a few hundred yards away. Through my binoculars I could see several deer running towards me. They were being led by a large buck! When the buck reached my shooting lane, I made a perfect 60-yard, broadside heart shot. He only ran 20 yards. After getting down from my stand and counting the points on the rack, I cell-phoned my wife and told her that I had just shot a $400 15-point buck. She knows that is the taxidermist’s fee.
With the deer tagged and field dressed, it was time to try out my boat winch idea. I strapped the big deer onto the toboggan and anchored the winch to a tree at the top of a cliff. I began to crank the buck up out of the bottoms. It was a slow process at first but it was working just as I had planned.

I could just see the tip of the toboggan coming over the edge of the cliff. That’s when I made one more crank on the winch and the rope broke with a loud pop! From where I was cranking, I couldn’t see the buck and the toboggan falling back down the side of the cliff but I expected the worst. I ran to the edge and looked down, there was the buck about half way down, hung up on some saplings.

This was a good thing because now half of my rope was ruined. (Did I mention that I used cheap plastic rope?) After straightening and reattaching what was left of my rope, I started cranking the winch again. This time when the toboggan peeked over the edge, I ran to it and pulled it and the deer over the edge by hand. Finally, I had the big buck safely on top. The 80-yard drag from there to the truck felt easy. Once again the toboggan and the knee brace did their jobs.

The 15-point buck had a 22-inch inside spread and grossed 178 typical, 188 non-typical. With what I had to endure to harvest and retrieve this deer, it could have been a basket rack buck and it still would have been a trophy to me. It was pure luck and determination that put this fine buck on my wall.

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

Jeff, thank you for posting my story. Definite surprise! The story should have read $4oo - fifteen point buck. One other note, I had surgury on that twisted knee the following march.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/31 at 05:41 PM

Although it was a long season, we were happy to have Eldon home safely, with meat in the freezer and a beautiful wall hanger!  We were also happy that his knee recovered sooner than expected…and able to head to the woods again for another season of stories!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/31 at 06:31 PM

Great deer and story Eldon.
I like the original “415 point buck” version better. I got a good laugh and plan to use that line in the future.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/01 at 06:42 PM

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