Illinois hunting and fishing

Tales from the Timber: Kapraun

February 24, 2009 at 01:54 AM

After four days of shivering during the cold 2008 second firearm season, Vicki Kapraun of Metamora got warm in a hurry.

But she didn’t need a heater. Kapraun’s warmth came in the form of a a big 9-point Fulton County buck she shot Sunday evening as time was ticking away in Illinois’ second firearm weekend.

“It’s miserable when your’re out there, freezing and waiting to see something show up,” Kapraun said. “And then when something does show up, it’s like you forget everything about the cold and the wind and your hunting instincts take over.”

Kapraun has plenty of instincts on which to draw. She has been stalking deer for 26 years, ever since she married husband Greg Kapraun. Greg was the one who got her into hunting. And it was Greg who convinced her to sit in the tree stand that yielded her big buck.

“He had hunted in it for a few days and hadn’t seen much of anything. So the last day he talked me into going out there and sitting in his tree stand,” Vicki Kapraun said. “Wasn’t that nice of him?”

For the first few hours, though, she wasn’t so certain about her husband’s intentions.

“I just kept waiting and waiting, thinking ‘This is the last day and nothing is happening,’ ” she said. “I started getting depressed because nothing was happening. It was miserable. The wind was blowing and it just so happened the wind was blowing right in my face. The longer you wait the more you start to get depressed.”

Patience was obviously a key to success for Vicki Kapraun, who held off from shooting when a group of five does came well within shooting range Sunday. Even after four cold days, she thought there might be something better to come.

“Usually with that many does together there’s a buck tending to them,” Vicki Kapraun said.

She was right. But not immediately.

First three does walked to within 20 yards of her stand, causing Kapraun to worry that might wind her. Then two more does approached.

“I just kept saying, ‘Wait, wait, maybe a buck will show up,’ ” she said. “I waited a good 15-20 minutes and I thought nothing is going to happen. So I was going to take a doe since it was my last day. For some reason I happened to look up to the top of the hill and here was a buck looking over the fence. He was probably 100 yards away looking at the does. Then he jumped the fence and came down right toward me.”

The buck then stopped and walked a few more feet until he was behind two trees. Kapraun got ready and shot.

“I took a shot and it was like I didn’t even hit him,” she said. “He walked back up the hill. So I took another shot and he acted like nothing happened and kept walking. Then to the left of me I saw antlers taking off running. I thought I missed him. Then I got really disappointed because I thought I missed him.”

But it turns out the set of antlers that ran off did not belong to Kapraun’s buck. Instead, after looking around frantically, she saw her big bruiser fall over a ways off in the timber.

“Evidently there must have been another buck up there I couldn’t see and he’s the one that took off running,” she said. “By then my heart was about to pound out of my chest.”

The buck field-dressed at 180 points and is similar to another deer Kapraun shot three years ago.

“Everybody thinks I got his brother, because I got another three years ago that’s got the same mass as that,” she said of a deer that measured 139 inches.