Illinois hunting and fishing

Tales from the Timber: DeHaan

December 23, 2008 at 04:42 AM

Aaron DeHaan’s story begins more than a year from the time the Grand Rapids, Michigan native’s bagged his big buck on Nov. 13, 2008.

On Nov. 9 of 2007, DeHaan leased out land owned by Illinois Whitetails LLC president Darrell Smith in Knox County and went hunting with his brother Jason and friends Dr. Frank and Steve Stoltz. The group was producing a video for White Knuckle Productions.

“We were filming in this tree and all of the sudden I hear my brother go, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s a big buck,’’ the 35-year old Aaron DeHaan said. “And I couldn’t turn around fast enough. He saw a big buck go around this hill and he said, ‘He was huge.’ “

And so the hunting began.

The brothers went out shed hunting four months later and a half hour into the hunt found the sheds of the big buck. Knowing the deer was near, the two built tree stands in strategic places around where the sheds were found.

The Sunday before DeHaan’s kill, his brother was hunting the land and saw the same deer 50 yards from his stand. The deer closed to 23 yards, but Jason DeHaan could not get a clean shot as the buck took off with a doe. He did manage to get good video of the deer.

“(Jason) just had a small hole and he was too big of a buck to mess up and take a chance on,” said Aaron DeHaan, who has been hunting since he was 12 years old.

The brothers hunted the property on Monday and Tuesday with no luck. Then, on Wednesday night Jason DeHaan spotted the buck about 80 yards away from another tree stand the two had built near a bean field. They grunted him, but couldn’t get the buck to come in.

“Well, we thought they just cut the corn on the east side of the property, so he’ll probably be over there and he’ll probably have a doe with him tomorrow,” Aaron DeHaan said.
The duo got to the east side stand before daylight on Nov. 13, sat back-to-back and set up the camera.

“I had about a 135-inch, eight-point come in and jump the fence in front of me, but I passed him up,” Aaron said. “He got down wind and ran back through. About 10 minutes later, I had about a 140-inch 10-point come. I probably could have shot him, but he just didn’t impress me. So I thought, ‘You know what, I’m just going to let him go. It’s still early.’ ‘’

Things began to slow down about 9 a.m. but a half hour later the brothers had multiple encounters with does and a six-point came out of the draw.

“About 10 o’clock I hear my brother go, ‘Aaron, Aaron, buck, buck.’ I turn around and here he comes up behind the hill at like 40 yards,” Aaron said. ‘\“He starts straddling the fence line up and it looks like he’s going to jump the fence, but he doesn’t. He continued up the fence and my brother is on him, so I grabbed by bow to turn around and get ready. He ends up closing the distance to 23 yards and I grunted to him, he stopped and I shot him.

“I was pretty happy.”

The buck ran about 80 yards and Aaron was unsure at first if he did get him because the buck took off so fast.

“I didn’t see where the arrow hit. I go back to my brother and say I’m not sure about the hit, I don’t know. My brother’s like, ‘Dude, you smashed him.’ And I said ‘Did I?’ I saw the arrow hanging out of him as he was running away. He said, ‘You hit him hard.’

Jason DeHaan saw the deer start to get tipsy, then lost track of him.

“He ended up going 10 yards from where my brother saw him and piled up,” Aaron said.

The two waited a couple hours, changed clothes and went back to track down the buck. It did not take long to find the massive deer — approximately 80 yards from where the two first found his sheds in the spring and 100 yards from their first encounter.

“He was everything we thought he was,” said Aaron DeHaan, who shot a 130-inch, 8-pointer in 2006.

The buck has an unofficially green score 200 inches and 16 scorable points.

The hunt was captured on film and will be available on White Knuckle Production’s next video, scheduled for release in January.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing