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