Another Slow Weekend Bowhunting in Illinois

Well, another weekend has come and gone here in Northern Illinois without even a sighting of a shootable buck.  In fact, in three trips to stand this weekend I saw two 1 1/2 year old bucks, one doe, and two unidentified tails running through the woods.  With the good weather we had and the stands I hunted I'll be honest, I was really expecting something better!

Saturday morning brought 18 degree temperatures and a SW wind which was perfect for a spot I had hunted earlier in October.  It was right in close to a good bedding area in a small woodlot where I hoped one of the many bucks I had captured on my trail camera might be hanging out, either with a doe or looking for does.  I packed my Lone Wolf stand in and hung my set in the dark, then set up my camera arm and camera right before first shooting light.  The morning brought a sighting of a 1 1/2 year old fork buck making a rub, and two unidentified deer who either spooked because they saw me before I saw them or because the little buck was getting too close to their position.  All movement was within the first 1/2 hour of light and I didn't lay eyes on another deer after that.  I froze my butt off until 10:15 before climbing down for the morning.

That afternoon I hunted the other end of the same farm near another bedding area, hoping the deer would come out to feed on the freshly cut corn field.  However, all that showed up was the same fork buck from the morning, cruising around looking for something to do apparently. 

Sunday morning I slept in and didn't hunt.  I know you can't kill a deer if you're not out in the field, but you also can't get any sleep if you're in a treestand at 5 am either!  So with some renewed energy Mike and I packed our stands into a brand new spot and hung them up for an evening hunt.  We were in a super thick piece of woods that hasn't been hunted this year and that we haven't scouted much in the past.  We found the first good trail heading to some open fields, the first good tree, and got set up as quietly as possible.  Only 20 minutes into our hunt a big doe skirted our stand at about 30 yards.  After that the movement was slow until right before dark when we had a 1 1/2 year old Super Spike come stand directly underneath us until it was too dark to shoot.  We ended up spooking him away by throwing my handwarmers at him, and even then he didn't want to leave!

And so ended another weekend in the fields of suburban Chicagoland.  Deer sightings seem to be way down this year, and I haven't seen any bucks older than 1 1/2 in more than a dozen sits so far this season.  Considering it's almost the end of November I think you could say I'm getting a little discouraged.  However, I'll be back at it on Wednesday morning.  I know there are some good bucks around, I just need to keep plugging away if I hope to catch up with one.


  1. RICHIE MUSIC says:


  2. Justin, just curious…you are able to bowhunt up there during slug season?

  3. Justin Zarr says:

    I live and hunt in a bow-only county, so I can hunt with archery equipment all season long. It's nice because not only do I not have to take any time off, but the deer aren't nearly as spooked during the late season. I just need to find where they're at!

    I believe the stand Mike and I hung on Sunday night has a good possibility of producing if I hunt it smart. There's not a lot of deer on this side of the farm, but the potential for a big boy to be living in there is very good. I think that's my best shot at a big buck unless I happen to locate where one is spending most of his time once the late season hits.

  4. That is cool…I wish I could hunt through slug season.

  5. Patrick Reid says:

    This has been a pretty tough year here in illinois for bowhunters having to hunt even harder with so much corn still in the field. The good news is i was out this evening here in illinois and i saw two real nice older bucks still crusin for a female companion. Even with the weird rut and the sighting of good bucks down, today gave me that second wind I needed to stick it out this season hopefully you will too.

  6. Good luck Justin! I went to Illinois for my first time this year and was fortunate enough to harvest a nice 125 class ten pointer.We hunted public land and it was tough hunting but I scored on the last day of our hunt. You'll get him, persistence pays off.

  7. GARY WADDELL says:



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