Illinois Outdoors

Archer shoots and videos big buck

September 29, 2007 at 06:00 AM

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was published Oct. 21, 2005 in the Peoria Journal Star.

Shooting a trophy buck with bow and arrow is hard enough. Shooting a trophy buck with bow, arrow and video camera is virtually impossible.

That’s one reason you see so few record-book whitetail deer hunts on film. And that’s why Brent Van Hoveln was talking to himself Oct. 3. Van Hoveln, 35, is the Bloomington police officer who shot an impressive 28-point non-typical buck early this archery season.

The buck has been green-scored at close to 240 inches by an unofficial measurer, according to Van Hoveln. That’s the top score mentioned so far from among the more than 15,000 deer reported by archers in Illinois through Monday. The final score was 229 2/8 inches.

Obviously there’s a chance someone out there has a better buck. Bowhunters across the area say big bucks have started moving more in recent days.Illinois Outdoors

There’s also a chance the unofficial score for Van Hoveln’s buck is off, possibly by a lot.

“Looking at the rack, it just doesn’t look like a 240-incher,” Van Hoveln said. “It’s only a 10-point typical frame, and when I first saw it I thought I had a 220-inch deer.”

But a smaller measurement won’t change the uniqueness of Van Hoveln’s story. In addition to putting an arrow through his northern McLean County monster, he also shot footage of his entire hunt.

“Everything I’m being told is that it’s one of the largest whitetails ever killed on video,” Van Hoveln said. “The guys from North American Whitetail are really interested.”

That’s because footage shows the big buck feeding in a field and then walking up a trail to within 50 yards of Van Hoveln’s stand. Not long after that, Van Hoveln swapped bow for camera; he put his video recorder into a specially designed holder that attaches to a tree. When the buck got within 23 yards, Van Hoveln loosed his arrow, a scene that also is on video.

Capturing that footage almost cost him the buck of a lifetime, though.

“He got about 30 yards out and I reached up to pan (the camera) back and he caught me. I don’t know if my release bumped something on the camera or what, but he looked right up at me,” Van Hoveln said. “I remember telling myself, ‘Forget about that camera and just run an arrow through him.’ “

Instead he did both and felled the largest of 16 Pope and Young class bucks Van Hoveln said he’s shot in 20 years.

Illinois Outdoors