Growing up and cutting my teeth bowhunting here in Illinois I never quite realized just how spoiled we are when it comes to big whitetails. My first few seasons in the field and throughout high school I saw more P&Y caliber whitetails, and screwed up more chances at them, than many hunters may have in their hunting careers. It wasn't until I hit my early twenties that I started taking my bowhunting a little bit more seriously, and consequently started to experience some more success. I have been fortunate enough at my ripe young age of 28 to have successfully harvested 3 whitetails with my bow that gross over 130", and while this may not be a grand accomplishment in the vast hunting community, I am fairly proud of these bucks.
In the fall of 2007 I was fortunate enough to harvest a nice 3 1/2 year old whitetail while participating in the Campbell Outdoor Challenge TV show in Southern Illinois. After rough scoring the buck shortly after he was shot, I had a good feeling that he would net high enough to be entered in the Pope & Young Record Book. Being a die-hard bowhunter and believing very much in with the Pope & Young organization stands for, I decided to have my buck officially scored several weeks ago.
My 2007 Southern Illinois whitetail.
Local P&Y scorer, and former P&Y Vice President, Brian Scarnegie was kind enough to do the honors for me. After the tale of the tape was added up, and then deducted, my buck ended up net scoring 127 0/8 inches even - just barely squeaking past the 125" minimum requirement. So once my check and paperwork go through, I too will have my name in the famed P&Y record book. I have to admit, it's a pretty cool feeling.
For those if you interested in learning more about Pope & Young, or to find official score sheets or a P&Y scorer in your area you can find all the information you need on their website at http://www.pope-young.org/
The official score sheet.
Speaking of this particular buck, shortly after he was officially scored he was also mounted and is now at home on my wall where I can admire him. My local taxidermist, Dale Schwab, does a wonderful job and has been mounting animals for my family and friends since I was a little kid. This particular mount is done on a McKenzie "Ben Mears" Semi-Upright Offset Series mannikin and I think it looks great. Dale does a wonderful job on the eye and nose detail, which to me makes the world of difference when it comes to a good mount. Hopefully I won't get skunked again this fall and have another trophy whitetail for Dale to mount come November!
If you're looking for an outfitter in Illinois that will take great care of you and has some AWESOME whitetails check out Campbell Illinois Whitetails at www.illinoisdeerhunting.com. These guys have some of the very best ground in Illinois and offer what I feel is a very good chance at harvesting a P&Y caliber buck. My buck was taken in 2007, and on our return trip this past fall I was lucky enough to film my hunting partner Mr. Mike Willand shoot a beautiful mid-130's buck on the 2nd day of our hunt. Two P&Y bucks in two years, it's hard to argue with that kind of success!