The heat of the Illinois and Wisconsin rut has finally come and gone and I'm finally starting to come down from this crazy deer hunting frenzy that we all seem to work ourselves into during the month of November. Sometimes I question who is running around like crazy more, us or the deer!
There is nothing better than heading out to a deer stand during the rut!
I've got more gear than I know what to do with, and by the middle of the season my truck looks like it was hit by a tornado!
After my success in Wisconsin shortly before rifle season I returned home to Illinois in search of a mature buck with my archery gear. My hopes were high, but the deer seemed to have had other plans. The big bucks seemed to be locked down with does and sightings were at a minimum during hunting hours. My Camtrakkers continued to pick up new bucks still roaming the area after dark, but I just couldn't seem to connect with the deer I was looking for. I was ready for gun season!
What's your first clue that I wasn't seeing any deer??
Opening morning of the Illinois shotgun season found me perched high up in a tree overlooking the area where I had seen a monster buck just a week before. As the sun came up I hoped that this big guy, who stayed just out of bow range on our last encounter, would make the same mistake twice.
Fortunately for him, he never showed up that morning. However, another mature buck did. A perfect 100 yard shot and a successful recovery lead me to my first ever Illinois shotgun buck. It took me three years and a lot of time spent in a tree, but I finally got it done!
My first-ever Illinois shotgun buck!
This deer had a broken/deformed foot of some sort. Very strange looking.
After checking in my deer and gathering up all my gear I headed to Wisconsin for the opening day of rifle season. Again, my hopes were high as I had seen a lot of mature animals during bow season that were just a bit too far out of range.
My buck was aged at 4 1/2 at the check-in station.
As things often do, they didn't quite work out for me the way I had anticipated. I saw a lot of great young bucks and a lot of does, but not the mature bucks that I was looking for. Where had they all gone?
You can't tell from the photo, but this buck just isn't quite what I was looking for.
Again, just not the buck I was looking for during my Wisconsin rifle season.
On the second day of the season I finally got a shot opportunity at a nice 3 1/2 year old buck only to blow the shot and let him get away! Somehow I shot high, only taking some hair off the deer's back before he bounded away. Anytime you miss a shot at a deer, regardless of size, you always feel as though you let yourself down. However, I know this buck will be around next fall, even bigger than he is now and I will be right back at it.
Although our season wasn't quite as succesful as years past, I was proud of our group for passing a lot of small bucks that just aren't what we want taken off our property. It takes a lot of will power to pass a deer that you would normally shoot, but everyone kept their fingers off the trigger. Well, almost everyone!
There are nearly 20 deer in this photo. How can you not love Wisconsin rifle season??
One great positive note from our Wisconsin rifle season was that my good friend Paul Mazur shot and killed the deer that I had wounded earlier with my bow. You may remember from a previous journal entry
that I had stalked on a big bodied buck and made what I thought was a clean shot on him, only to have a poor blood trail that fizzled out after nearly 500 yards.
As it turns out, the angle of my shot was either greater than I thought it was or my broadhead caught a rib on entry and deflected, staying outside of the buck's ribcage, penetrating under his shoulder, and out the front of his brisket - never hitting any vital organs. Unfortunately the wound that was created was too large and would not have healed properly and from the looks of things, and this buck would've died at some point during the winter. I'm thankful that Paul put an end to this chapter of my 2006 season - one I would just as soon forget!
Paul with the Wisconsin brute that got away during my archery season.
Here Paul points out the entrance and exit of my bow shot that failed to bring this broken rack buck down.
My Wisconsin neighbor Ron took this nice buck with his bow shortly after I took mine. Nice job Ron!
With Justin tagged out on bucks here in Illinois and me with one buck tag left we're really going to concentrate on getting a kill on film before the end of the season. The 2nd half of our shotgun season opened this morning and with a massive snowstorm moving in bringing a 30 degree drop in temperature we're anticipating good action on food sources in the evenings. Hopefully I can connect on film and end my 2006 season!