Illinois hunting and fishing

Similar tales for record bow bucks

February 11, 2010 at 11:41 AM

Illinois' top non-typicals

1. 304 3/8 Jerry Bryant, 2001, Fulton Co., crossbow

2. 295 3/8 Scott Dexter, 2004, McDonough Co., muzzleloader

3. 268 1/8 Chris Kiernan, 2009, Kendall Co., bow

4. 267 3/8 Richard Pauli, 1983, Peoria Co., shotgun

5. 267 1/8 David Jones, 2003, Mason Co., bow

6. 258 6/8 Ernie Hires, 1994, Edgar Co., shotgun

The Peoria-area’s stranglehold on big buck records has loosened a bit.

That’s thanks to a monster whitetail shot last fall in northern Illinois by bowhunter Chris Kiernan of Morris (pictured above). Kiernan’s 37-point buck was measured at 268 1/8 inches on Jan. 3, making it the largest non-typical ever taken in Illinois by a bowhunter and the third-largest non-typical in state history.

As measured, Kiernan’s buck also edges ahead of the former state record of 267 1/8 inches, held since 2003 by Mason City archer Dave Jones. “Congratulations to that guy,” said Jones, whose Mason County buck had 36 scorable points. “They’re really getting some nice deer up there.”

Kiernan’s buck won’t be an official record until it is scored by a panel of measurers. The earliest that can happen is 2011, when the Pope and Young Club gathers in Rochester, Minn. Until then Kiernan’s unofficial record means the Peoria area loses one claim to deer-hunting fame. Area hunters still own state records for typical archery (Mel Johnson, 204 4/8, Peoria County), largest non-typical (Jerry Bryant, 304 3/8, Fulton County) and largest firearm non-typical (Scott Dexter, 295 3/8, McDonough County). Jones had given the Peoria area a virtual lock on big buck records (aside from Brian Damery’s record firearm typical).

Now Jones finds himself in second place, something that didn’t seem to bother him much on Tuesday when he was contacted at home. Of more pressing importance was recovering from a cold. Besides, Jones was never one to get too wrapped up in the hoopla surrounding record-book bucks. “I guess it can get as crazy as you want it to. It all depends on how you push things and promote things,” he said. “I see someone every now and then that mentions (his big buck), but I don’t go to a lot of the places where that might happen more.”

Kiernan (below) has also taken a relatively low-key approach to his buck.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Interestingly, that’s one of several similarities between these two monster non-typicals and the hunters who shot them.

For starters, both Kiernan and Jones are hard-core bowhunters who years ago quit gun hunting. Both are skilled archers with impressive bucks to their credit.
And both killed their biggest bucks in the same week of the season: Kiernan on Nov. 1 and Jones on Nov. 5.

That’s not really a shock, since the week after Halloween is typically one of the most productive times to hunt mature whitetail bucks as they head into breeding season.

Somewhat more surprising is that both Kiernan and Jones also had previous encounters with their deer.

Kiernan actually passed up a shot at his deer during the 2008 season. While he came to full draw with the buck at 40 yards, Kiernan told Dale Bowman of the Chicago Sun-Times that he was not comfortable with the shot. So he backed off and waited.

Jones also had a long wait after missing a 25-yard shot at his 36-pointer in 2002. “I lived with that for a year. I didn’t know if I’d see him again,” Jones said.

No surprise then that both hunters were very particular about how they approached their bucks.

Kiernan waited until the rut was approaching to head back into the small wood lot where he had spotted his big deer.

“I have been hunting the same area since the ‘80s,’’ he told Bowman. ‘‘I bought my first archery tag in ‘82. If I remember right, I think my mom [Janet] had to drive me, if I didn’t hunt nearby. ‘I wish I knew then what I knew now. I grew up in the country [near Minooka]; we had a little farmette. ... My dad, Jerry, is definitely a big part of it.’‘

Illinois Outdoors

Jones (above) also waited for conditions to be right when he hunted his buck out of a Lone Wolf tree stand.

“I’ve taken three pretty nice deer out of that stand. It’s just across from a major doe bedding area and is on a rise where I can look out over where a lot of the deer bed. It’s kind of along the way from their bedding area to their feeding area.

“The most important part for me is that I can get to it without being detected when the wind is right and blowing towards an area where they don’t pass through very much. I can go there early if I want, but it’s usually a pretty good November stand when the rut heats up.

“The bottom line with that stand is the view it offers me. When I killed that (36-pointer) that’s the whole reason I killed him. I could see him from a long way off and that’s what makes rattling work so well from that stand.”

Next up for Kiernan is a stop at the Illinois Deer & Turkey Classic Feb. 26-28 at Bloomington’s Interstate Center. Taxidermy was done by Chad Johnson of Johnson’s Brookview Taxidermy in Abingdon. Johnson said the buck will be placed on a temporary pedestal. Kiernan will attend the show as part of the Elite Archery booth.

Illinois hunting and fishing

“You owe it to the deer, basically, to let other people see it,” Kiernan told Bowman.

As for Jones, he managed to kill another big 10-point buck last Oct. 1 out of the same stand from which he had taken his record.

“I enjoy hunting just as much now as I ever did,” Jones said. “I never expected to do anything like (killing a state record) again. But I still buy four tags every year and go out and give it all I’ve got.”