The 2006 hunting season has been one of the most difficult hunting seasons for me in a very, very long time. I set out this year with the goal of harvesting a 3 1/2 year old animal or better on my land in Wisconsin. In the past, I've shot a lot of quality 2 1/2 year old bucks early in the year but now that I have a wall full of them I decided to wait things out and see if I couldn't get something a little bigger. Little did I know what a challenge that would be!
A few early season trips to Wisconsin were extremely uneventful and I had a hard time even filling my doe tag in order to earn my buck tag! Fortunately I was able to put harvest a doe, which you may have read about in an earlier journal entry, and my mind switched gears to antlers.
Justin getting ready for our 2 am trip to Wisconsin to try and kill a buck on film.
Starting in late October I began hitting the woods pretty hard and my hopes were high. After several trips to Wisconsin, a few attempts at filming some hunts, a few trips back to Illinois, and all in all several weeks of day in and day out hunting I was exhausted. Encounter after encounter with good bucks always ended the same - either no shot opportunities or blown shot opportunities. I just couldn't seem to connect! The hundreds of acres of standing corn throughout both Illinois and Wisconsin certainly weren't helping either.
Killing a mature buck was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be!
On Thursday November 9th my luck began to change as I was able to spot and stalk up on a great buck that was bedded down with a doe. Unfortunately my shot was a bit off the mark and after hours and hours of searching, calling Justin and my friend Ron in to help me look, and a lot of hard work we came up emptyhanded. We all know how bad it feels to loose a deer, and after all of my hard work all season long I was really in the dumps.
Here's a shot of one of the many bucks I saw but couldn't get close enough to for a shot.
Another nice buck following a doe, just not close enough for a shot!
The following day brought an early November snow storm to Central Wisconsin along with high winds, cold temperatures - and thunder of all things! Despite the weather I saw good deer movement all day long and was trying my best to keep my hopes up. The rut was on and there was no stopping it now! With only an hour of light left before I was to head back to IL I was just about to give up hope when I doe ran under my stand and I heard grunting behind her.
I slowly stood up and readied myself for the shot. It was now or never. As bucks often do this big guy didn't present me with the shot I wanted, and began skirting towards the back of my stand. With light beginning to fade and my shot opportunity about to be gone I drew back, aimed, and fired. The buck immediately dropped in his tracks as my arrow connected with his spine. After a quick followup shot my quest for a Wisconsin buck was finally over!
A successful hunt on a snowy Wisconsin day. It feels good! And check out those brow tines!
My little guy is learning fast!
Back here in Illinois things have been rather slow for me. My buddy Muhsin Muhammad, Bears wide receiver #87, came out for a couple of hunts last week. Moose was able to conenct on a mangement doe early into his hunt, but unfortunately wasn't able to close the deal on a buck that came by shortly afterwards. That's alright, there's still plenty of season left to get one!
I signed Moose's hat for good luck. Quite the change of pace for a professional football player!
Moose, myself, and Justin after a successful recovery.
I've seen some great bucks here in IL, but much like Wisconsin I just can't seem to close the distance for a good shot. Check out this buck I saw last weekend! He came by at about 40 yards and I just didn't feel comfortable with the shot. As this giants often do, he seemed to know something was up and just wouldn't come any closer to my stand.
An Illinois monster for sure!
In other news, the elusive treestand thief has struck again! Last weekend I woke up early, got ready, and headed to my stand only to find it wasn't there! What kind of "hunter", and I use the term loosely, would steal another hunter's treestand?? I tell ya, people have some nerve! I won't even go into the story on how I blew a shot on a nice buck later that morning because it will only make me mad!
Illinois shotgun season opens Friday and Wisconsin rifle season opens Saturday so I'm looking forward to being able to reach out and touch one of these nice bucks I've been seeing just out of range all year. With the rut still in full swing the deer are really moving and I'm looking forward to a lot of success this weekend. Wish me luck!