November 6 - Carmi, IL
The 2nd day of this year's Campell Outdoor Challenge found us in a set of stands we just hung yesterday up tight into a bedding area where we found a good rubline. We were fortunate enough to find a good group of oaks that shared a common trunk and really get tucked in where the deer hopefully wouldn't see us. So as usual we were up and on the road before most people here even woke up, and were probably in our stands while most guys were still drinking coffee at the lodge!
Before the sun even crested the horizon on this warm 50 degree morning we had deer moving around and under our stand, which we both knew was a good sign. After it was light enough to see we had a small 1 1/2 year old buck cruise by and go head-to-head with a small button buck right in front of us for a bit. After the 1 1/2 year old moved off into the oak flat he ran into another 1 1/2 year old buck and they had a pretty intense fight for a few minutes, which was pretty cool to see and hear.
As the two 1 1/2 year old bucks and the button buck milled around eventually a doe and two yearlings joined the party and we were literally surrounded by deer, most within 60-70 yards. Then all of a sudden Mike taps my leg and says "Buck coming....I think he's a good one." So I pulled up the camera and got on him. What I saw in my viewfinder was a nice 140" dark-racked 10 pointer making his way to the scrape in front of our stand. I confirmed with Mike that he was a shooter and we both readied ourselves for the moment of truth.
As the buck cleared the last limbs that we had just trimmed with our Hooyman saw not 18 hours before, Mike stopped him with a mouth bleat and let his arrow fly. This is where the story begins. The hit was a bit far back and initially looked like a solid liver shot. We replayed the footage a few times to confirm and decided to back out and wait. After retrieving his arrow Mike and I gathered our gear and headed back to camp for some breakfast and a few episodes of Saved By The Bell and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
After a 6 hour wait we took up the blood trail just as a front moved in and brought some moderate rain, which made our job even more difficult. We managed to find a decent trail for the first 100 yards or so before it ran out and we were left to grid the thick bedding area in front of us. It only took a few minutes of walking before the buck jumped from his bed and trotted off, tail tucked, away from us. We immediately assessed the situation and decided not to risk pushing this buck any further and backed out of the area. If he was alive and well enough to run off nearly 8 hours after the shot, we needed to give him more time to expire.
We are planning on hunting for an hour or two in the morning to try and get another doe harvest on film before meeting up with some of the guides and some of our fellow hunters to continue our grid search of the small woodlot we're hunting. We are hopeful that the buck hasn't left the area as the next closest woodlot is a good 500 yards away and he most likely won't want to cross the open field in his condition. So wish us luck, we'll be back at it first thing in the morning!
As of tonight Bowhunting.com's Team Farm Credit is holding steady in 2nd place for both this event as well as the Circuit, which is a combined score from multiple Outdoor Challenge events throughout the year. If we can recover Mike's buck in the morning it will be enough to push us into first place for sure, althought that is of little importanced compared to finding this animal and completing our hunt.
I will update again tomorrow as more details come in. Thanks everyone!