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Where Have All the Bucks Gone?

by Justin Zarr 18. November 2011 10:18
Justin Zarr

I don't know about the rest of you bowhunters out there, but this year's rut and poor hunting conditions have about got me beat! I've been hunting relatively hard, when time and work permits, since the end of October with very little success since my last Blog entry.

Contrary to what a lot of people think, I don't get to hunt every day. Like most of you who read this I have a regular job that keeps me occupied from Monday to Friday and the vast majority of my hunting is done on the weekends. That usually leaves me enough time for about 20 to 30 sits per year in stand, with only a third of those being during prime time. So when the sun is shining, I've got to make hay!


Sometimes I wonder why I even bother rattling.  It never seems to work for me.

The weekend of November 6th & 7th should have, by all accounts, been pretty good. We were just approaching the full moon and the weather was decent. However, after three hunts that weekend I had seen a grand total of 5 deer. The only bucks that showed up were a couple of love sick year and a half olds. Certainly not the caliber of deer that Mike and I are looking for.  Although they make for some entertaining hunts, after the first few you start to question whether or not a bigger buck is ever going to show up.


This little guy was right under my stand as I filmed him.  He had no idea Mike and I were perched just 15 feet above him.


I really nice 1 1/2 year old buck that Mike grunted in last weekend.  Give him a few years and he may be worthy of a shot.

The following weekend was much of the same. 4 sits yielded a total of 9 deer and again nothing with antlers older than a year and a half. High winds, a nearly full moon and warming temperatures certainly didn't help deer movmement, but I thought I would have seen SOMETHING moving around.


When you're sitting in your treestand in the morning waiting for the sun to come up and the moon is so bright you can almost shoot, it's usually not a good sign.

On Friday evening (11/11), at the end of a frustrating sit I did shoot a nice big doe that came out into a corn field in front of me. With shooting light fading and a 35+ yard shot I never saw exactly where my arrow hit her, but I was 99% confident the shot was good. However, after not seeing the deer drop in sight and not finding much blood I elected to wait until the morning to recover her. Unfortunately the local coyotes had different plans in mind as they found my doe, just over the rise out of site from my stand. Figures.


Although I double lunged this doe, the entrance and exit holes were both high which resulted in a poor blood trail.  Electing to let her lay overnight I was disappointed to find the coyotes got to her before I did.  Ironically, she was only 40 yards away from where I had followed the blood trail, but was unable to find her after dark.

Besides the lack of buck sightings from stand, it's been a tough year for trail cameras too. My trail cameras are working hard for me, but the big guys just don't seem to be cooperating. Despite my best efforts to local another shooter buck, I haven't found anything that really gets me excited for these cold November (and soon December) mornings.


Bucks like the one seen here have been frequent visitors to my Tink's mock scrapes, but the big guys have been eluding me so far.


This big guy we nicknamed "Goldberg" has been a frequent visitor in front of our Stealth Cam Prowlers, but with a busted main beam he's off the hit list for this year.  I just hope a neighbor doesn't get him during gun season.  If he makes it, he'll scare you next year.

Now that gun season is on here in Illinois I'll be limited to hunting my spot in bow-only Lake County, which unfortuantely isn't holding many trophy bucks this fall. The biggest buck I have on camera is a spindly 10 point that may have grossed in the mid 120's before he busted off a few of his tines!


"Spud Webb" before he busted off his right G2 and possibly several other tines.  Not a bad buck, but not exactly the caliber of deer I'm looking to put my 2nd buck tag on.

Okay, I guess I shouldn't be complaining too much here. All things considered I've had a really good season. I've harvested 3 deer, all on film, one of which is my biggest buck ever. That buck, which you can read about by clicking here, ended up gross scoring just over 158 inches which is far bigger than I originally thought. Although I'm not looking forward to another taxidermy bill, I won't mind admiring him for years to come.

So with all of that said, it's certainly not time to give up now! There's nearly 2 months of season left here in Illinois and if I want to fill my 2nd buck tag I'm going to have to keep hunting hard. So tomorrow morning when I'm in my Lone Wolf stand with Mathews in hand, I'll try to picture my tag wrapped around 150 inches of antler I know could be around the next tree.

 

Bowhunt or Die! Episode 6 Recap

by Cody Altizer 15. November 2010 09:22
Cody Altizer

 Episode 6 of Bowhunt or Die marked the beginning of Sweet November in the whitetail woods and to hunters around the country it meant the beginning of the rut.  The Bowhunt or Die team continued their impressive streak of laying down quality whitetails on film in Episode 6 as two more Illinois bucks were harvested.  In case you missed our last installment of Bowhunt or Die, read on as we recap the action!

Follow this link to watch the exciting bowhunting action of Bowhunt or Die Episode 6.


 Richie Music continued his dream season as he harvested yet another Illinois buck.  For the second sit in a row from the exact same tree, Richie was able to harvest a bruiser Northern Illinois buck.  This buck followed the exact same script as his buck the week before, walking down the exact same trail and stopping at the same spot.  Richie’s shot was farther back than he would have liked, but knew that if he didn’t push the buck and gave him plenty of time to expire, he would recover his trophy.  A wise decision by Richie resulted in the recovery of Richie’s second buck.  Unfortunately for Richie, he is now tagged out in Illinois, but I am sure he is not complaining.  Two bucks and two does down is a great season for anyone.  Nicely done, Richie!

Look familiar?  This Illinois beauty of a buck stopped in the same place as the buck Richie harvested in last week's episode.  Richie made his shot count and harvested his second Illinois bruiser from the same stand.

This was Richie's second buck of the 2010 bowhunting season.  Richie has truly had a season to remember and we are grateful he shared his success on Bowhunt or Die with quality footage.


 We then followed Todd Graf on his quest for either his second Illinois giant, or a monster Wisconsin buck, whichever came first.  Todd hunted the end of October and early November hard and had some great, close encounters with some dandy Wisconsin bucks, but they just wouldn’t cooperate.  As Todd stated, as magical as the rut can be to bowhunters, it can turn into a game of cat and mouse.  With bucks tending and chasing does across open fields and through the timber, sometimes you just have to hope you are in the right tree at the right time.  With plenty of season left and knowing the hardcore hunter that Todd is, I know he will put in the time and effort and ultimately have an opportunity to bag one of those Wisconsin brutes that have given him the slip so far this season. 

This is one of the Wisconsin brutes Todd has been chasing this season.  A true giant for any state, I know Todd will do whatever it takes to give himself the best opportunity to harvest this giant by the season's end.


 Bowhunt or Die then introduces its newest and youngest team member, Brady Scheffler.  Brady’s first appearance on Bowhunt or Die was a memorable one has he filmed himself shooting a great Illinois buck.  Brady got up in his stand plenty early one morning and right at first light a buck that Brady had a lot of history with this season presented a shot.  Brady’s shot was true and, despite running farther than expected after the shot, the buck died along a creek bottom.  Big congratulations Brady on harvesting such a fine whitetail and welcome to the team!

This buck had given Brady the slip throughout the month of October, staying just out of range just as he did in this photo.  It was only a matter of time before Brady caught up with him.

Brady recapping the action of his self-filmed buck harvest.  As our newest staff member, Brady made his first appearance on Bowhunt or Die a memorable by taking this great buck. 


 We concluded Episode 6 of Bowhunt or Die by following Justin Zarr on a couple hunts on his property in Northern Illinois.  Justin’s determination to harvest a buck off this piece of property is admirable as he relentlessly tries to figure out these wary suburban bucks.  If you recall in previous episodes, Justin had hunted this piece of property numerous times without even seeing a deer.  Fortunately for Justin he was able to get on some good deer this go around.  While they were just does and smaller bucks, seeing deer is always a morale booster and proves that Justin is inching closer and closer to harvesting a buck in Lake County, Illinois.  Only time will tell if he will be able to do it, so be sure to tune into next week’s episode of Bowhunt or Die to see how he does.

Just a doe?  Not hardly.  Justin was finally able to see some deer from his Lake County property during Episode 6.  During the rut if you find the does, you'll find the bucks.  It's only a matter of time for Justin.


 The 2010 bowhunting season has been very good to the Bowhunt or Die and the first week of November was no different.  Every week I say it will be tough to top the previous week’s episode, but somehow our guys manage to do it.  With the rut now in full swing, I fully expect this week’s episode of Bowhunt or Die to be one of the best ones yet.  Of course, there will only be one way for you to find out.  So, tune in next week to see if the Bowhunt or Die team can continue its impressive inaugural season. 




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