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Opening Weekend Success IL Doe Down

by John Mueller 5. October 2011 10:15
John Mueller

Opening weekend in Illinois can be considered a huge success; I saw deer on every sit and harvested a nice doe on the last sit of the weekend. The weather was perfect for hunting and I found out the bucks are hitting my Tink’s Mock Scrape already.

I arrived at my property in Jersey County, IL a little after dark. On the way to my trailer I stopped and pulled a card from my trail camera on one of my water holes. When I downloaded the pictures I was happy to see lots of daylight activity at the water hole. It’s one of the few water sources in the area right now. It has been a very dry summer and the creek has no water at all in it.

After a night without much sleep my alarm went off at 4:45 AM. I quickly put on my Lost Camo by Scentblocker and grabbed an apple and granola bar for breakfast and headed out for the first hunt of the year in IL. I elected to hunt the first morning in a creek bottom where there are some white oaks loaded with acorns and a corn field on the ridge above them. The deer like to come from the corn field and head into the hollows behind me to bed for the day. I only saw one small buck cruise through the bottom on opening morning.

For my first afternoon hunt I chose to sit by a water hole I dug a couple years ago in the middle of my 5 acre food plot. The trail camera I have hung there showed good daylight movement both morning and evening. Plus as a bonus it had a picture of my #1 target buck this year “Bakers Dozen” visiting it. But his visit was in the middle of the night. At least I know he is still in the neighborhood.

My #1 target buck "Bakers Dozen" is still in the neighborhood.

At about 6:00 I heard deer hooves pounding the hard packed ground. I turned to see 2 fawns followed by a huge doe headed to the water hole. I grabbed my Mathews ez7 and got the video camera turned on. I found the big doe in the viewfinder and followed her to the waters edge. Even though I had a clear broadside shot of under 20 yards I couldn’t shoot because the camera was at waist level and blocked by the top of a small tree. I elected to wait and hope she would move and offer a shot when the camera could capture it. It never happened and she left the water hole untouched headed for the newly sprouted wheat in my food plot. This is the first, but surely not the last time videoing my hunts cost me a shot at a deer.

Sunday morning found me in a tree above a mock scrape I made with Tink’s Power Scrape two weeks prior to opening day. When I checked my trail camera monitoring the scrape it had 2 nice bucks sparring in front of the scrape during daylight. I didn’t see any deer while sitting in the stand until 10:30. But as I was climbing down 2 does took off from the hillside about 50 yards behind me. I don’t know if they snuck in and were bedded there or they were just cruising through that late.

Two bucks sparring in front of my mock scrape.

This brings us to the last hunt of opening weekend. With the abundance of acorns in the woods this year, I headed to a ridge in the middle of my woods loaded with White Oaks.

Acrons are everywhere this year.

The hollow on the opposite side of the ridge in also a favored bedding area. I was busy strapping my camera arm to the tree when I heard the sound every hunter hates to hear in the woods. A doe started to blow at me. She let out a few snorts and then I saw her high tail it out of there. I finished setting up my camera and got my bow all ready for action. I was just getting ready to do my pre-hunt interview when I noticed movement behind the camera. It was another doe headed my direction. She slowly fed my way and stopped about 50 yards away. I thought she was never going to take another step all night. She stood there surveying the area forever chewing her cud every once in a while. Then she sort of circled away from me, but ended up coming back and stopped 18 yards out in front of me but facing me offering no shot. She stood there for another 2 hours, so it seemed. Actually it was more like 10 minutes before turning and giving me a slight quartering away shot. I put my pin high on her side toward the back of her ribs to allow for the downward angle of the shot and touched off the shot. I watched as my arrow buried right where I had been aiming. She took off in a mad dash down the ridge, actually toward my trailer, and then I heard her crash a short distance away. So while waiting a few minutes to climb down I finally did my interview after the fact. I climbed down and made my way to the arrow sticking in the ground where she was standing. It was covered in blood with no sign of a gut shot. I followed the blood trail and the farther I went the more blood there was. The NAP Spitfire had done its job well slicing through both lungs. I found her piled up in a tangle of vines and small trees. The best part of where she crashed was the whole drag was downhill to the field by my trailer. After a little more video and some still pictures I loaded her in the back of my brand new red Ford Pick Up Truck and headed home to get her in a cooler.

I ended my weekend by taking a nice doe on the last evening hunt.

It’s always nice to start the season off harvesting an animal. It’s what we dream about and plan for all summer. It also gives me a big dose of confidence, knowing I’m setting up in the right spots and seeing deer every time I head afield.  And they just plain taste good on the grill, my freezer had been empty for a while. You can catch this hunt as well as other great hunts on Bowhunt or Die, our weekly hunting video series. HERE

New Bow Review: First Impressions of the Mathews ez7

by John Mueller 21. March 2011 14:11
John Mueller

The new Mathews ez7 is in my opinion my perfect bow. I've never been a speed freak and I am more of a bow hunter than a target shooter. This bow has many features that I look for in a good hunting bow. Very smooth to draw, forgiving brace height (7"), short but not too short (32" axel to axel), fast (up to 321 fps), lightweight (4.25 lbs) with 80% let off.

The new Mathews ez7 in Lost Camo is the perfect hunting bow for me.

As an experienced bow hunter (one with a few years under his belt) I can truely appreciate the ez7's draw cycle. It is one of the smoothest and easiest drawing 65 pounds bows I have pulled back. And with 80% let off, hopefully I can hold at full draw as long as I need to get the perfect broadside shot we all strive for. I will really appreciate this when the weather turns cold and nasty next season and I have on a few extra layers of clothing. I will have no problem getting to full draw when that buck walks within range after the temps have taken a nose dive. But don't let the smooth draw fool you. The ez7 is still a very fast bow. Rated at up to 321 fps. The cronograph at my shop was broken so I don't know the speed of my arrows. But I can tell you it's really spitting them out.

With a brace height of a full 7" the ez7 is a fairly forgiving bow. This allows for slight form imperfections while trying to get into position for the shot in a cramped ground blind or leaning around a tree while on stand. The 32" axel to axel length likewise is long enough to be steady on the shot, but still allow plenty of room for manuevering in the blind or around branches in a tree stand. I'm not a fan of the super short bows and the longer axel to axel bows add too much weight to be hauling up and down the hills on my property. At 4.25 pounds, the ez7 won't add a bunch of weight as I pack my climber and video camera in on my hunts.

All set up with the latest accessories and ready to hunt.

The ez7 was a breeze to get setup too. I don't know if I just got lucky or the guy that set up my bow at Tim-Buck-Tu Outdoors really knew what he was doing, but after installing my rest, sight and peep, there was very little adjusting I needed to do. Before I knew it the bow was paper tuned and sighted in at 20 yards with arrows flying like darts.

The limbs on the ez7 are some of the most parallel in the industry. Parallel limbs mean the limbs move very little during the draw and the shot. The cam does most of the work. By having very little limb movement Mathews has eliminated much of the shock of the shot and this makes for a steadier release of the arrow. To further reduce shock and vibration the ez7 has a dead end string stop installed behind the stabilizer to capture and reduce string occilation.

Some of the most parallel limbs in the industry.

Very little limb movement equals less vibration.

Now I can't wait for turkey season to get here. Just a few more short weeks and I'll be taking my new ez7 into the ground blind with me. I just hope I can get one of those long bearded toms to show up in front of the blind.




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