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Early Season Success in Illinois

by Justin Zarr 13. October 2008 14:57
Justin Zarr

The 2008 season has been a long time coming for me.  For those of you who don't know, I got married two weeks ago and up until then much of my free time that I normally spent doing hunting-related things was consumed with wedding things.  However, I am glad to say that after 13 long months of planning the wedding went off without a hitch, and now I'm hitched!  After my new bride and I spent a week in Cabo we finally returned home so I could get back to the business at hand - bowhunting!

Saturday October 11th was my first chance to get out in the field.  Unfortunately some unseasonably high temperatures rolled in and temps were in the high 70's/low 80's across Northern Illinois.  With a S/SE wind my stand options were rather limited so I elected to sit in a stand near a picked corn field where the deer like to feed at night.  When I arrived at the field, I sadly found out that it had been harvested for silage and not a kernel of corn remained in the field.  It may as well have been bare dirt!  So I settled in for a long night of swatting mosquitos, nursing my bottle of water, and watching squirrels run about.  Even though I didn't see a deer, it was certainly good to get out in the field!


This probably isn't the best food source for deer hunting......

Sunday morning came quick and to be honest with you, I probably would've slept in had my wife not hit me in the back as my alarm was going off at 4:15 in the morning while I was sound asleep.  So I got up, showered, took the dog out, and I was on my way.  In my stand by around 6:00 AM I strapped in and waited for first light.  It was a cool, calm morning and you could hear a pin drop.  However once again, no deer!  I did see one big coyote though, and would've had a shot at him had I not been preoccupied with taking photos for this blog!


Hello from a tree somewhere in Illinois!


Don't forget to use a safety harness at ALL times when hunting from a treestand.  It could save your life!!!


It's scenes like this that make us bowhunters live for the fall!

So two hunts into my '08 season I had yet to see a deer.  With temperatures even hotter, in the mid 80's by 3 pm, I decided to sit in our third and final location in hopes of catching a deer on it's way to get a drink in the local pond.  My good friend, hunting partner, cameraman, and fellow connoisseur of bad movies Mr. Mike Willand accompanied me on this hunt.  Mike offered to take up the new Canon XHA1 camera and the Muddy Outdoors camera arm so he could start getting some practice in before our trip to the Campbell Outdoor Challenge next month.  So we braved the sun and hot temps and sweated our way into our stands.

The wind had been calm on our way in, but once in our stands it switched to pretty much dead East which was one of the worst winds for this particular spot.  Our wind was blowing directly into a known doe bedding area.  By this point it was too late and too hot to move anywhere else, so we settled in for a few hours of relaxation on a nice fall day.  In fact, most of the night was spent in conversation about future hunts, the movie Major League, and some of our fellow Bowhunting.com members.  How we didn't spook every deer in the county is beyond me.


A dark view from our stand location shortly before the doe arrived, just a few minutes too early for her own good!

However, about 10 minutes before dark just as we were about to pack it in, a doe showed up out of thin air.  By the time Mike and I saw her she was 15 yards and moving quickly out of my lane and into the cover between us and the pond.  Mike brought the camera up into position but couldn't get a shot of the deer from his vantage point.  At this point I knew he wasn't going to be able to get anything on film, however I was anxious to get my first deer of the year and help thin the overabundance of deer on this particular farm.  So once the big doe took two more steps she stopped perfectly in my last shooting lane as I came to full draw, settled my pin on her vitals, and touched off an arrow.  With a telltale "thud" the doe pounced straight up in the air, came down, and tore off through the cover.  Within 30 seconds and only yards away we heard crashing and she was down for good!

A short track job later my dear ol' Dad located the doe and we proceeded to drag her out, snap some photos, clean her up, and be on our way home in time for a late dinner.  Even though we didn't get the hunt on film, I had a blast.  Having a good friend in the tree with you always makes your hunts more enjoyable, that's for sure.  Hopefully next time we'll be a little bit more on cue and get some footage for you all to watch.


A big mature Illinois doe.  The third taken from this same stand in the past two years.


Thanks to Mike for help with the pictures.  It's amazing to see how far we've come since the high school days of randomly walking around the woods looking for a deer to shoot!!

The weather is supposed to take a turn for the cooler this week and with the full moon on it's way out we should be seeing some increased deer movement soon.  I'm hoping to get out for 2-3 hunts here close to home and try to catch up with one of the bucks I have been getting trail camera photos of if I can.  I'm also planning on getting in an evening hunt with Todd at his new property in NW IL this weekend as well, which should be fun.  Todd's a buck magnet, so hopefully some of his luck will rub off on me!

Gear used on this hunt:

NAP HellRazor Broadhead: This is my first year hunting with these heads and so far, so good.  They flew virtually perfectly the first time I screwed them onto my arrows and within a few minutes I was grouping shots with my field points out to 30 yards.  Their pinpoint accuracy and devastatingly sharp cut-on-contact blades provided a complete pass-thru, good blood trail, and quick recovery on this doe.  I'm looking forward to shooting more deer with them.

Dead Down Wind Products: Mike and I both use the full line of Dead Down Wind products for scent control, and they work great.  I personally recommend the Hair & Body Soap, Shampoo, and Field Spray along with the Laundry Detergent and Carbon Reactivator.  Check them out in the Bowhunting.com store.

Gum-O-Flage:  I've been using this product for three years now, and I love it.  It helps eliminate the odors from your breath/mouth which is a must on days like this one where you're hunting a questionable wind.

Mossy Oak Bowhunter Gloves: This is my first season using these gloves, and so far I really like them.  They're great for early season/warm hunts and the cutout for the release makes them a sinch to get on/off without removing your release.  They also provide a great feel for your grip as well as your release.  My only complaint is I wish they came in right/left hand versions so you didn't have a big hole in the glove of the hand you don't shoot with.  Other than that, they're great.

Octane one-piece quiver:  Again, my first year with this product and so far I really like it.  The magnetic hood is super cool and a very nice feature that makes getting arrows in and out of your quiver super easy even in the dark.  I also like the quick detach feature as well.  It's silent, easy, and very secure.  All the makings of a good bowhunting product!  The only drawback is that it's pretty heavy with those magnets in the hood.  But I don't shoot with my quiver on, so it's really not too big of a deal.  I can handle it in lieu of the ease of use and quality of this product.

You can purchase all of these products and a variety of other high-quality bowhunting gear right here at Bowhunting.com by clicking on this link.

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