2008 Illinois Rut Hunting – Part 1

By Justin ZarrNovember 5, 20081 Comment

LAST UPDATED: May 8th, 2015

After a slow start to my 2008 season with only 8 trips to the stand in October, I set off on a 10 day bowhunting adventure with my good friend and hunting partner/cameraman Mike Willand.  Our first stop was a new piece of ground that we picked up in West Central Illinois.  We only had 3 days to get in, scout, hang stands, and hopefully kill a nice buck or two.  Unfortunately unseasonable warm temperatures that are downright HOT moved in and really kept deer movement to a bare minimum.

With temps in the upper 70's for the last 5 days the deer have been sticking towards the low ground and water sources, which is where we started our hunt.  Mike had a good encounter with a nice 2 1/2 year old buck on our first night, but he wasn't quite what we were looking for.  Again the following morning another 2 1/2 year old presented us with some great video and a good shot opportunity, but Mike again elected to pass on this 120" Illinois buck.  Where we're hunting there are a lot bigger bucks roaming the area.

Mike waiting on stand during our foggy first morning's hunt.

We had a whole bunch of turkeys roosting right above us that I was able to get some good video and photos of.

The 2nd evening I was up to bat and after hanging a new stand close to a bedding area we had a rather slow night only seeing one small spike buck and a doe.  However, our 2nd morning was pretty exciting.  Even though temps were only in the upper 40's the bucks seemed to be moving pretty well and we saw 6 different bucks, three of which were shooters!  Unfortunately the first buck busted Mike and I getting in position for the shot with the bow and camera before we could pull it off.  The 2nd buck came in and this old warrior, we're guessing a 4-5 year old deer, made his way down the hill toward us following a doe.  After making a rub I gave him a few quick grunts and pulled him into bow range.  Much to my dismay the buck spotted me drawing in the tree and went on full alert.  I had one good hole to shoot through so I settled my pin on his chest and released my arrow – only to watch it sail over his back!  My spirits were a little down as the mature buck snorted and bounded over the hill, taking his doe with him.  When I get home I will post the video, I'm sure you'll all love to watch it! 

The spot where it all happened – my 2008 P&Y miss!!!

After my dismal morning Mike was up again to hunt that hot evening, which we elected to spend over a CRP field.  We spotted several nice bucks dogging some does, but none of them were responsive to our calling and just a bit too far for good video.  Our last morning (Nov 4th) we returned to the stand where I missed my buck the day before and had three more bucks come by all in shooting range.  However they were all just a bit too small with the biggest being a nice 110" 2 1/2 year old that offered us some great footage and some passed shot opportunities at 11 yards.

Here's Mike enjoying a sammich during our lunch break on an all-day hunt.

Once our morning hunt was over we packed up the truck and headed down to Southeast Illinois to Campbell Illinois Whitetails for the 2008 Campbell Outdoor Challenge.  Our first day was spent checking in and locating our hunting area.  It's primarly a thick bedding area surrounded by picked corn and beans, which we're hoping will produce a nice buck checking for hot does.  We found a bunch of scrapes so we know they're there, it's just a matter of catching up with them!

Be sure to check back here on Bowhunting.com as I'll be posting daily updates on our encounters as well as anything else happening around camp.


Justin Zarr
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General Manager at Bowhunting.com
Justin has been bowhunting for more than 25 years, harvesting a number of P&Y whitetails in his home state of Illinois during that time.  He co-hosts the popular bowhunting show 'Bowhunt or Die' and is a frequent guest on numerous hunting podcast.  Justin lives in the NW suburbs of Chicago with his wife and 3 children.
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