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Bowhunt or Die! Episode 8 Recap

by Cody Altizer 7. December 2010 03:34
Cody Altizer

 After taking a week off to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, Bowhunt or Die! returned for Episode 8 of its inaugural season.  While our team spent Thanksgiving being thankful for friends, family and good food, the whitetails across the country were thankful our hunters weren’t out hunting them!  With the type of season our team has had this far who could blame them?  Still, Episode 8 chronicles 4 more exciting hunts in Illinois and Wisconsin and 2 more bucks and 2 does were harvested.  Let’s take a look at how things went down!

To watch the footage of Episode 8 of Bowhunt or Die! follow this link!

 Justin Zarr kicks Episode 8 off on his lease in West Central Illinois.  Justin spent three days on his lease in Pike and Brown Counties hunting those famed whitetails hard, but wasn’t able to get it done.  Despite his rough luck down south Justin kept at it the following Monday on his hunting property in Lake County, Illinois.  If you have followed Bowhunt or Die! this season, you know how much time and effort Justin has put into this piece of property hoping to harvest a nice whitetail.  Finally, his patience was rewarded when a buck Justin has over 50 trail camera pictures made an appearance.  It looked like this buck, better known as Little Mac, was going to cross a creek and present a 10 yard chip shot; however, when he crossed the creek Justin attempted to stop him with his mouth call.  The results were not what any hunter would expect as the buck apparently was alarmed by the call and took off in the opposite direction!  After going back across the creek he stopped and gave Justin a small window of opportunity and Justin capitalized on it big time!  He put a Nitron tipped arrow right behind Little Mac’s shoulder and the buck was dead within seconds!  Just like that Justin had accomplished his biggest goal of the 2010 season, harvesting a buck in Lake County, Illinois.  Click here to read about the sentimental value this particular buck holds to Justin by reading his own recap of this hunt.  Way to go, Justin!

Justin's immediate reaction after the shot was priceless.  When you work as hard for a buck as Justin did for Little Mac, emotions can quickly run high after a successful shot.

Here is Justin after he recovered his buck, Little Mac.  Congrats again to Justin for working extremely hard for this buck and making it happen.

 We then head to Wisconsin with John Hermann as he attempts to harvest a couple does.  If you remember, John got his 2010 season off to an incredible start by harvesting a giant 150” 8 pointer in early October.  Unfortunately, that was the only buck John could harvest in Wisconsin (I am sure he is not complaining) and he was limited to shooting does the rest of the year.  He set out a goal to harvest two does off a certain piece of property and was able to accomplish that goal in one weekend.  John was also able to get some great footage of a mature buck over the course of the weekend as well.  While he wasn’t able to shoot that big buck, simply being able to watch him interact with the other deer was enjoyable I am sure.  Congrats on a productive weekend, John!

John Hermann had a successful weekend hunt in Northern Wisconsin as he achieved his goal of harvesting a couple does.  Nice work, John!

 While John Hermann was having excellent luck in Wisconsin, Bowhunt or Die! front man Todd Graf was not.  Todd has worked extremely hard in Wisconsin this year hoping to harvest a nice buck and was presented with a shot opportunity on a mid-November hunt, but unfortunately he missed.  The particular tree Todd was hunting out of is a perfect tree for killing big bucks, but it makes for difficult shot angles and Todd just wasn’t able to pull it off.  To make matters worse, the same buck strolled back by later that day at 39 yards, but Todd just wasn’t comfortable with the shot.  Despite his tough luck, Todd deserves a lot of credit for passing up on shot at redemption by passing on a shot he wasn’t 100% comfortable with. 

A shot of the buck Todd missed on his quest for a Wisconsin bruiser.  Don't you just hate it when they look back at you out range as if to say, "You can't shoot me now!"  Don't worry about it Todd, we all miss and I am sure you will get one during the late season!

 If you remember Episode 5, staff member Josh Fletcher harvested a giant Wisconsin buck on the first day of his planned two week vacation.  Since he quickly tagged out, he offered to run the camera for his brother Clint, hoping to film him harvesting a nice buck.  At very first light on the morning of November 13th, a nice buck came in and Clint was fortunate enough to harvest him.  I personally know how much fun it is to be able to hunt and film with your brother, so I am sure Josh and Clint had a great time in the tree together.  Good jobs guys!

Staff member Josh Fletcher took time out of his vacation to film his brother, Clint, harvesting this nice buck.  There is no time better spent than sharing a hunt with your brother and congratulations to Clint for harvesting a nice buck!

 Another exciting and successful episode has come and gone for the team.  Wow, it’s hard to believe that we are already one week into December!  Time sure does fly in the deer woods.  The late season is officially upon us which means snow and super cold temperatures which can make for incredibly fun hunts.  Stay tuned to Bowhunt or Die! to see how the team performs during December.

Outfitters....The Best Thing For Deer Hunting?

by John Mueller 29. November 2010 13:26
John Mueller

In my opinion, I say Outfitters are great for deer hunting. (As long as they don't lease up the land I want to hunt.) I'd love to own a couple hundred acres in the middle of property that was leased by outfitters. Just think about it for a minute. What are outfitters trying to accomplish. Get the best quality deer for their hunters and the most of them. I think that would make a wonderfull neighbor.

My friend Bob and I were talking this past weekend. He lives near my property in IL. Every year he goes up to hunt with a friend of his who owns property in Calhoun County, IL which is near the Pike County border. He hunts for 3 or 4 days and kills a nice buck there every year, usually 140+. He also hunts around his house some on his property as well as a neighbors the rest of the season. Sometimes he kills another buck and sometimes he doesn't. I asked him how come he can kill a nice buck up North every year only hunting 3 or 4 days. He said the property is surrounded by land leased by outfitters and big bucks are everywhere.

This make perfect sense. When the outfitters lease up large chunks of land, say 2,000-10,000 acres, they have total control of what happens on that land. They control how many hunters hunt it and how many bucks are taken from it. The pressure is kept to a minimum by rotating hunters to different properties. So every deer isn't loking up into every tree to spot the hunter. They make sure there will be enough big bucks for the years to come and that the little bucks are allowed to walk. I doubt most guys are going to pay $3,000-$5,000 to shoot a basket racked buck. Most also try to take enough does off the land to make bucks have to search a little to find them. Most outfitters also plant food plots and take good care of the properties. It's in their best interest to have the healthiest deer herd possible.

By contrast without outfitters, a lot of parcells of land are getting smaller. Families are selling off the 120 acre farm and splitting it up into 10-20 acre mini farms for the weekenders. Then the whole family hunts on that 20 acres. Putting many more hunters in the woods and more pressure on the deer. You now have 20-30 people hunting the same land as 4-6 used to. Or if the farmers family does hunt the land. Most of these are meat hunters and shoot the first deer that walks by. Which is fine and needs to happen to keep the herd in check. But not good for trophy hunting. Both of these scenerios kill many more deer than outfitted land would and also make the ones that do survive that much harder to kill. Many of these deer become almost exclusively nocturnal movers.

I think if you could own a couple of hundred acres in the middle of properly outfitted land you would have a deer hunting paradise. Just make your property as appealing to the deer as the surrounding land and don't put too much pressure on it and you should have some of the big boys using your land too. This is just my opinion and you may totally disagree, but if you stop and think about it, it does make sense. Myself, Bob and 2 other friends are currently working on leasing some ground just like this for next year. I'll let you know how it works out.


Bowhunt or Die! Episode 5 Recap

by Cody Altizer 8. November 2010 08:43
Cody Altizer

 The fifth episode of Bowhunt or Die was our best episode so far this season, hands down.  Halloween Weekend was good to the team as 4 bucks hit the ground totaling over 540 inches of bone.  Episode 5 is full of big buck action from Central Illinois and Wisconsin so read on and let’s recap Halloween Weekend on Bowhunt or Die!

Click this link to watch the footage from Episode 5 of Bowhunt or Die!

 Josh Fletcher got things started off for us with an exciting hunt in Wisconsin.  Josh was in the tree October 28th for the first day of what was a planned two week vacation to bowhunt the rut.  Fortunately, (or unfortunately, depending how you look at it) Josh filled his buck tag on his first trip out.  Josh had a nice buck chasing a doe right underneath his stand and, just as he was recapping what he saw with an interview, he hears the crunching of leaves, spots a shooter buck, quickly turns the camera around and prepares for the shot.  With the buck in frame, Josh releases an arrow tipped with the NAP Bloodrunner towards the giant Wisconsin buck.  All in a matter of seconds, Josh had successfully filmed himself shooting the biggest buck of his life!  To top it off, the big bodied whitetail died within just 40 yards of his truck making for an easy drag.  Well done, Josh!

Josh Fletcher posing happily with the biggest buck of his life, a monster Wisconsin 12 pointer.

 We then climb up the tree with Richie Music on a suburban hunt in Northern Illinois.  Despite the annoyances of hunting suburbia, Richie was determined and optimistic about seeing deer and shooting a good buck.  Richie didn’t have to wait long, because around 4 o’clock a monster Illinois 11 pointer walked right into Richie’s shooting lane.  Richie quietly drew his bow, released and let his NAP Bloodunner do its job.  A perfect double lung shot resulted in a dead deer, a happy bowhunter and the biggest buck of Richie’s life on the ground.  Richie’s reaction after he shot the buck is what deer hunting is all about.  Just watching Richie’s excitement and enthusiasm is enough to make me get back in the woods right now!  Kudos to Richie for self-filming the biggest buck harvest of his life with bow and arrow, good job Richie!

The monster 11 pointer just before Richie's arrow strikes true.  The bright red streak you see above and to the right of the buck's rack is Richie's arrow.


Richie with the biggest buck of his life.  A mainframe 10 with a split left G2, long main beams and a super wide spread make Richie's buck a buck of a lifetime.

 Bowhunt or Die then makes the trip south to Central Illinois and Pike County as I continue my quest for not only my first Illinois buck, but my first buck with a bow period.  After filming Justin Zarr for three days, I set out on my own and my first afternoon out I had some action.  About 5:45 I catch movement out of my left eye and see a shooter buck making his towards me.  I immediately take a deep breath, grab my bow, situate the camera and stand up to get ready for the shot.  The buck cooperates beautifully and walks right in an opening just 20 yards from my stand and when he stops, I shoot.  My arrow hit its mark as I watched my Thunderhead Edge pass quickly through the buck’s heart.  I was pumped!  I was able to film myself shooting my first Illinois buck as well as my first buck with a bow.  There is no better feeling!

My first buck with a bow, my first Illinois buck and my biggest buck to date.  I was able to self-film myself harvesting this buck and am extremely proud of him!

 The big buck action continues as we follow Justin Zarr on the same piece of property as he looks for a big buck.  If you have watched the previous episodes of Bowhunt or Die, you’ve watched Justin pass on several nice bucks looking for a mature, Illinois whitetail.  Justin hunted hard for two straight days and despite numerous encounters with younger bucks and a couple close calls with two shooters, Justin headed into Halloween morning without a deer.  Justin is living proof, however, that persistence pays because Halloween morning Justin’s patience was rewarded.  An old, battle tested buck made the mistake of stopping in Justin’s shooting lane and Justin made a perfect shot on him.  Justin’s NAP Nitron made a quick, clean kill on a bruiser Illinois buck.  Justin’s buck actually had three tines broken off which adds character to his rack and proves this old buck was a warrior!  Congrats Justin!

Justin's reaction right after he shot his buck.  This is what bowhunting is all about!

Justin proudly poses with his Halloween buck.  The buck had three broken tines, but he was still a great trophy nonetheless.

 Episode 5 was packed full of exciting buck action, and the hunts shared were similar and unique in several ways.  Josh, Richie, and I all shot the biggest bucks of our lives.  We were all able to successfully self-film the buck harvests featured in Episode 5 and we all relied on NAP broadheads to harvest our bucks.  Combine this with the fact that Josh shot his buck on October 28th, Richie on the 29th, mine on the 30th and Justin’s on the 31st and it all adds up to make for a pretty cool show!  While it may seem as if Episode 5 will be impossible to top, I would put nothing past the Pro Staff with the rut now in full swing.  Tune in this Friday for a new episode of Bowhunt or Die to find out!

Illinois Buck Down! Living the Bowhunter's Dream

by Cody Altizer 1. November 2010 16:21
Cody Altizer

    I’ve always said, “Everyone should get to live a dream come true.”  It’s a simple saying, but I truly believe that at some point, everyone in life should get to live out the dreams they had has a kid, regardless of how wild or seemingly unattainable they might be.  Fortunately for me, I have been living a literal dream come true for the past month and a half and that dream got even sweeter this past weekend.  So, when I received official word that I would be heading South with Justin Zarr to his lease in Pike County, IL to hunt and film for three days, I had an undeniable feeling that something good was going to happen.


The view from my stand Saturday October 30th.  Central Illinois is some of the prettiest country I have ever seen and just being there was a blessing in itself.

    One of the perks of being a Pro Staff member is I get to hunt with some genuinely cool guys on some awesome whitetail hunting grounds.  The current downside of this opportunity is that I am the “low man on the totem pole” and have to work my way to obtain hunting privileges.  This means I am cameraman first, hunter second.  So, the deal was I was to film Justin for three hunts, and then I had three hunts to myself.  I was cool with this as wildlife cinematography is a growing passion of mine and I was anxious to hunt alongside Justin for three days.  Nevertheless, I would be lying if I told I wasn’t out-of-my-mind excited to have the opportunity to hunt Pike County for three consecutive hunts Halloween Weekend. 

This doe got a pass from me at 20 yards.  A text from my dad kept me optimistic that a buck was going to make his way by my stand.

    While filming Justin I tried to learn as much as I could about the property and the deer’s patterns as I could so I could really get the most out of my three hunts.  When Saturday afternoon rolled around and my duties as cameraman were complete, I was prepared to harvest not only my first Illinois buck, but my first bow buck period.  Justin’s lease is a real unique piece of property as it is essentially one huge bedding area with approximately 65% of it being a huge CRP field.  However, when filming Justin we saw the majority of the 3+ year old bucks in the remaining timber and I knew that’s where I wanted to concentrate the most of my efforts.  Being late October, the mature bucks were on their feet more than usual, but weren’t really willing to venture out in the wide open CRP just yet.  So I opted to hunt the fringe of the CRP field Saturday night and was prepared to sit in a tree all day Sunday in the timber if need be.
    Now, I know I dedicated nearly an entire paragraph to trying to pin down a mature buck, but I must make a confession.  I was just looking for my first bow buck period!  I have passed on several bucks with my bow back home in Virginia as I wanted my first bow buck to be in the 120” range and figured the same rule should apply in Illinois. 

A shot of my buck just seconds before I released the arrow.  Be sure to watch Bowhunt or Die this Friday to see the footage of my hunt.

    As I got settled in my stand Saturday afternoon I was a little bummed about the weather.  Temperatures were in the middle 60s and the wind was blowing just enough to irritate me so I didn’t start the hunt off on a very positive note.  However, I reread a text my dad sent me Friday morning when Justin and I were seeing great buck activity from the same stand.  He told me, “I’ve got a feeling Mr. Big is going to come by you this weekend! Relax, steady, release!  Mr. Big is yours!”  Without even knowing it, my Dad had lifted my spirits some 700+ miles away.  I was ready for the hunt. 

My 2010 Pike County, IL bowhunt.  You would be hard pressed to find a happier hunter than the one sitting behind that buck October 30th. 

Is he the biggest buck roaming the timber and fields of Central Illinois?  Absolutely not.  Am I uncontrollably proud of this buck?  You bet!

    The evening slowly passed with pleasant activity.  I saw a small raccoon meander his way by the stand around 4 and around 5:30 a doe and her two fawns crossed in front of me at 20 yards.  Then, at 5:40, I heard a snort-wheeze to my North and stood up to further investigate the noise.  Mere seconds later I see a buck making his way between the two fingers in which I was hunting and immediately peg him as a shooter.  With both eyes locked onto the buck I stood up, grabbed my bow, got my camera situated and prepared myself for the shot.  It was all coming together perfectly.  He slowly made his way down the opening and I drew my bow as soon as he was behind a big branch that was sticking off the tree my stand was in.  I took a deep breath and thought to myself, “This is actually going to happen!”  He stopped on his own at 20 yards exactly and I placed my 20 yard pin directly behind his shoulder and touched the release.  I have never watched an arrow fly so perfectly.  I watched my Thunderhead Edge tipped arrow quickly strike the deer right behind the shoulder; a perfect heart shot!  He took off in a hurry but I knew he wasn’t going to make it far.  I wasn’t able to see where he fell but knew he was laying 70 yards from the point of impact in the CRP grass.  I had done it, buck down in Illinois!

I'm extremely thankful that Justin let me come down and hunt his property with him and taking such beautiful harvest pictures of me and my buck.

    This buck is by no means a monster but he’s the most proud I have ever been of a deer and will look great hanging on my wall.  He’s my first Illinois buck, my first bow buck and my biggest buck to date!  I hate to sound like a broken record, but harvesting this buck was a dream come true.  Most guys my age back home would kill to have the opportunity to hunt Pike County Illinois and I am extremely blessed to have been given the opportunity to do so.  A BIG thanks goes out to Justin Zarr for letting me come down and hunt with him, I’m really grateful.  
    Unfortunately, this means I am nearly tagged out in Illinois.  As a non-resident I was only issued one buck when I bought my permit and gladly used it this past weekend.  Factor in the doe I shot opening weekend and I am done.  I did, however, buy an extra doe for the late season, but it looks like my November hunting time will be spend behind the camera.  But who I am to complain?  It’s not everday you get to live a dream come true.

Chasing Trophy Whitetails Offers 1st Annual Fan Bowhunt

by Bow Staff 26. October 2010 05:31
Bow Staff

Chasing Trophy Whitetails (CTW), the largest hunting related page on Facebook, with over 700,000 fans and growing, will host its first annual CTW Fan Hunt from October 20th - 24th at Midwest Whitetail Adventures in Pike County, Illinois.

Midwest Whitetail Adventures is known for Trophy Class Whitetails and, beginning on Wednesday October 20th, 12 CTW Fans who purchased the opportunity to participate in the CTW Fan Hunt will not only have a chance to hunt where the big ones live but will share their experience on video with the entire 700,000 + member CTW Fan Base.

“We are very excited about the fan hunt,” said Mike Disario, the new Executive Director of Chasing Trophy Whitetails. “So much so, we’ve assembled a production team to document and push daily highlights of the hunt to our entire fan base.  We also plan to videotape and share each CTW Hunter’s experience from the stand as well as in camp.  To top it off, we’ll be offering some great group buy discounts on quality products from our friends at Hunter Safety System and Can Cooker.”

The Chasing Trophy Whitetails Page is a great place for whitetail enthusiasts to learn from and socialize with other like-minded hunters as well as take advantage of group buy discounts on great hunting gear.

Who likes Chasing Trophy Whitetails?  I know I do!  I like Chasing Trophy Whitetails both in the field and I like the Chasing Trophy Whitetails Facebook page, too.  Check them out on the web, and be sure to check out the Facebook page while you're at it!


Categories: Current News

Illinois Bowhunting Success - Two Does Down

by Justin Zarr 19. October 2010 14:44
Justin Zarr

My bowhunting season started off pretty slowly with only 3 trips to the field over the first 12 days of October.  Last week however, things definitely started picking up.  A mid-week trip to Northwest Illinois with Todd resulted in a close encounter with a few does, and then a weekend trip to West Central Illinois ended with a couple passed bucks and a doe for the freezer.  With November looming just around the corner the best is yet to come.

Last Wednesday Todd Graf and I headed out to try and lay down some footage for our new weekly video production here on called "Bowhunt or Die".  If you haven't seen the first two episodes, click here to watch them!  We will be posting new episodes every Friday morning throughout the season so be sure to check back often for new action from week to week.

After a rather uneventful morning with me behind the camera Todd and I hung a new treestand and then got ready for the afternoon hunt.  I was up to bat that evening with Todd taking over camera duties, but unfortunately a rather undesirable wind direction spoiled our chances at a few does that come to eat in one of Todd's food plots.  Even though we didn't score on any whitetails, getting back in the stand after a 10 day layoff got me back in that familiar October mindset and ready to get back at it.

With a packed truck in the parking lot Friday evening couldn't come fast enough. After work I hit the road with my buddy Jeremy Enders, fellow staff member Cody Altizer and's cameraman/editor Brian McAlister.  After a 5 hour drive and 4 hours of sleep we were up and headed to our stands for the first time this season.

Over the course of the next few hours we saw a combined total of about 25 deer including 5 bucks who spent most of their time sparring with one another, making scrapes, and harassing the local doe population.  I certainly wasn't expecting that type of behavior for Mid-October but it was a great way to start things off!

One buck in particular tested my resolve to hold out for a bigger buck this fall as he walked directly in front of me at 22 yards, stood still, and then looked in the other direction.  Although this buck has great G2's and brow tines he's just not the caliber of animal I'm after so I let him walk.  Trust me, it was a tough decision!

Here's a still frame from this week's upcoming episode of Bowhunt or Die.  "Rudy" was testing the air for estrous a mere 22 yards in front of my stand while the camera rolled and I tried to refrain from shooting him!

A trailcam pic of Rudy from mid September.  You can really see his great bows in this photo here.  A tough buck to pass!

Before the morning was over both Jeremy and myself were fortunate enough to harvest does, both of which were captured on video.  This was Jeremy's first archery harvest and it was really great to be a part of it.  A big congratulations to him on a perfect shot!  Both Jeremy and myself are shooting NAP Nitron broadheads, which took down these does within 60 yards of where they were shot.  I know huge cutting diameter is all the "rage" right now, but there's no replacement for accuracy and you will not find a more accurate head than the Nitron, guaranteed.  Look for both of these hunts, as well as footage of Rudy, in this week's episode of Bowhunt or Die!

Jeremy and I with our October does, shot 1 hour and 300 yards apart.

A big thanks to Brian and Cody for filming us this past weekend.  Without these guys we wouldn't be able to bring you these exciting bowhunts, so they deserve just as much credit as we do!

With a full moon coming and rain in the forecast for this weekend I'm not sure how much deer movement I'll see, but you can't kill them on the couch so you can bet you'll find me in the woods somewhere!

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