Illinois Bowhunting Week 2 – Big Doe Down

By Justin ZarrOctober 13, 20093 Comments

LAST UPDATED: May 8th, 2015

The 2nd weekend of the Illinois bow season was definitely a trying one on both myself and my hunting  partner/cameraman Mike Willand.  Friday night started off on the wrong foot as Mike’s truck broke down on his way to my house and delayed our departure by a few hours.  After getting on the road at just after 9 pm we didn’t arrive down South at our lease until nearly 2 am.  After a quick 2 hour nap in our buddy Dan’s rockstar trailer we showered and headed into our spot.  The wind direction, moon phase, and temperature were perfect and hopes were high.  There was just one problem – the creek crossing into our land was completely flooded!  After a 5 hour drive and a 2 hour nap to find out we couldn’t hunt that morning was a total letdown.  What a waste of a good morning!

The “creek” we normally walk across with knee-high rubber boots looked more like a river last Saturday morning.

At least the fall colors are starting to come in pretty nice!

After weighing our options we decided to pack everything back up and drive 3 1/2 hours back North to another spot we have in JoDaviess County, IL.  We had never hunted this particular property, and in fact had only set foot on it a total of 3 times, but we figured it was worth a shot.  So after a couple more hours in the truck we finally arrived, met up with our friends Brian Bychowski and Wayne King from Pine Ridge Archery, and set out for the evening’s hunt.

We were set up over a standing bean field that is being destroyed by the deer.  This field is covered up with tracks, rubs, and scrapes.  Not long into our hunt we spotted a few small bucks coming out of the woods headed away from us.  Shortly after that a few does came into the field where they fed for over and hour about 80 yards from our stands.  Eventually they were joined by several other deer who were also feeding on the beans.  At about 6:30 it was like someone flipped a switch and they all started heading our way.

With Mike behind the camera I got ready for a shot at one of the mature does in the group.  As she passed behind a limb I came to full draw, and as she stepped into the open I asked Mike if he was on her.  When he said “No! Wait!” I knew we were in trouble.  She stopped just shy of the camera being able to see her and with me still at full draw she went about her business eating soybeans.  After what seemed like forever Mike was able to extend the camera arm out just enough to get her in the frame and he gave me the go-ahead.  I raised my bow back up and just as the big doe spotted us in the tree I let the arrow fly.

Click on the video above to watch the full hunt!

My NAP Spitfire Maxx tipped arrow zipped right through her and she took off up the hill to the top of the field.  Although my shot was a few inches back I knew she wasn’t go to make it far.  After a short pause at the top of the hill the big doe went down in sight.  We waited until dark to get down out of our tree and after helping Brian retrieve his doe we changed out of our hunting clothes and headed out to retrieve her.  She was laying right where we had last seen her go down, and after a grueling 1/2 mile drag across a muddy bean field we got her back to the truck.

My first deer of the 2009 season.  Not a monster buck by any means, but I’ll take it.  Jerky, anyone?

My shot placement on this particular hunt was not the best, and I’ll readily admit that.  However, the 1 3/4″ cutting diameter of that Spitfire Maxx broadhead performed flawlessly and in my opinion helped with the short recovery of this deer.  The increased damage caused by the larger cutting diameter, combined with the industry-leading sharpness of NAP’s blades really does make a big difference on those marginal hits.  As it turns out I center-punched the liver and went through the diaphragm which is always a lethal shot, although sometimes recoveries can be a little tough if the deer travels a good distance before going down.  We got lucky this time and she went down within sight, which doesn’t happen often on a liver shot deer.

Mike and I with our big Illinois doe.  We know how to grow ’em big!

This weekend I’ll be hunting a few of my local spots where some good bucks have recently been spotted, so hopefully I’ll be able to get a look at them.  I’ll also be able to check a few of my trail cameras that have been out for 3 weeks now, so hopefully I’ll have some good pictures to share with everyone.  If time permits, I’ll also be trying to get my good buddy Jeremy Enders on his first deer ever with a bow.  I may just put him in the same stand where I took this deer if the weather permits.  Wish us luck!

If you’re looking for a mechanical broadhead that flies like a field point, has a large cutting diamater, and super sharp blades check out the NAP Spitfire Maxx.  You can purchase them right here at Bowhunting.com by clicking this link.

Also, if you like to move your stands around a lot during the season and need a better way to trim shooting lanes on the go check out the Hooyman 10′ Rectractible Tree Saw.  In addition to the extra length they have really improved the blade locking system, making the saw much more effective at cutting down those hard to reach branches.  Without a doubt, I wouldn’t have been able to hang and hunt this set without my Hooyman Saw.  You can purchase them by clicking this link here.

Our good buddy Brian Bychowski was able to down this big doe just several hundred yards away from us the same evening.  Congrats!

Last but not least, a big Thank You goes out to my cameraman Mike Willand for doing a great job as always, and Brian and Wayne for helping with that horrible drag.  Next time we’re bringing a deer cart!

Justin Zarr
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General Manager at Bowhunting.com
Justin has been bowhunting for more than 30 years and co-hosting the popular bowhunting show Bowhunt or Die since 2010.  He lives in the NW suburbs of Chicago with his wife, 3 children, and semi-smelly dog.
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