I’m not going to make excuses as to why I have been hunting hard in Illinois for nearly a month and a half now and still don’t have a deer down. I’m just going to try and explain how it can happen.
I guess I’ve entered into a different stage as a hunter. I used to be all about killing the animals. I have killed as many as 10 deer in a season and enjoyed the hell out of it. I doubt I will ever do that again, no reason to really. I have also killed some really nice bucks and hope to again soon. It seems a lot of the hunting was about the competition of killing a big deer. Now it feels like more of a chess match. Waiting for a particular buck or one that meets my own personal standards. Like these guys.
But right now I am having just as much fun managing my property for the deer and turkey that call it home. I have really gotten into food plots in a big way. Hopefully to help out the local deer heard in the harsh winter weather and also to make the hunting a little easier. But so far that hasn’t happened. You would think with a smorgasbord of food available whenever they want it there would be deer out in it any time of day. It just isn’t working that way this season. Some of that may be due to the fact that with all of the rain this fall the farmers haven’t been able to get their crops out of the fields. In normal years all crops should be out by Halloween, this year they may not be out by Christmas. Still my plots should be a good draw for the late season.
These 2 seem to be enjoying my efforts.
I have also planted my CRP field in Native Warm Season Grasses such as Big Blue Stem, Indian Grass and Sideoats Gramma. In a couple more year as these get established they will create a wonderful bedding area for the deer and a nesting area for the turkey and other ground nesting birds. This will help hold more deer on my property and keep the neighbors from killing too many of the ones I’m trying let grow older.
I have also been sharing my treasure with friends that appreciate what I am trying to do with my piece of Whitetail Paradise. Last year Matt/Pa and Greg/MO were out and we hunted hard for a good buck, but that never happened. So on the last evening of our hunt we decided we needed a deer for our trophy shot. We ended up taking 3 does in the last hour of the hunt. This year Matt couldn’t make it with his new job and Greg ended up killing this buck on Halloween evening. Mobow is also hunting out there with me this year. He has killed a button buck (by mistake) and is still waiting on the wall hanger to offer a shot. My taxidermists’ son has also harvested a mature doe while hunting on my place.
A good evening of hunting
The Halloween buck.
Now don’t get me wrong. I haven’t stopped trying to kill deer, but I have become more picky in the ones I do shoot. I can afford to there are some really nice ones living around me. I may not kill a good buck every year but that will be ok with me. I don’t go out with the intent on shooting every doe that walks within range and I have a certain hit list of bucks that I’d like to put a tag on. But to just kill a deer, I think I am past that stage. I still get the same adrenaline rush every time I see a deer materialize from the woods. I just don’t have to kill every one to make it a successful hunt any more. I have also starting taking my video camera along, weather permitting, and am enjoying some of the things I am getting on camera. Still not a pro at the video thing, but maybe that will be the next stage in my hunting career.
I still like this side of hunting a lot.
But this side is gaining fast, maybe I'm getting soft in my old age.