Illinois Bowhunting Season – The Start of Another Year!

By Justin ZarrSeptember 30, 20104 Comments

LAST UPDATED: May 8th, 2015

Fall is definitely in the air here in Northern Illinois.  The leaves are beginning to turn shades of red, orange and yellow, much of the corn and soybeans has already been harvested and there’s a distinct chill in the morning air.  Ah yes, fall has finally arrived!

Tomorrow marks the first day of Illinois’ nearly 3 1/2 month archery season and with cool weather, a good moon phase, and the right wind conditions I have a feeling there’s going to be some happy bowhunters this weekend. 

My bowhunting time this weekend is going to be fairly limited, but I’m going to try and make the most of it.  Tomorrow morning with North and Northwest Winds predicted I’ll be heading out to a stand I recently hung close to a fence crossing where I found some really good buck sign.  Early season buck sign that’s concentrated in thick areas usually means that the buck making the sign is living pretty close by, so I’m hoping to catch him coming back to his bedroom after a night of feeding.

I have a feeling that the buck making the sign is this one I’ve dubbed “Mac”.  He’s the best buck I’ve gotten on my trail camera on this particular farm, and these photos were taken only about 300 yards from where my stand is set up.  I believe I have trail camera photos of this buck from last year as a 2 1/2 year old 7 point.  Granted, he’s not a giant by Illinois standards but for this farm he’s a good buck.

Provided we got a good wind direction on Sunday I’ll going into another farm after this buck I’ve nicknamed “Pistol Pete”.  (I’ve watched I Love You Man too many times, I know).  Another good 3 1/2 year old buck, he’s been the most frequent visitor on my trail camera all summer and seems to be coming by right at dark heading towards a cut corn field.  I’m hoping this cooler weather will have him moving a little earlier.  I have a natural ground blind set up about 20 yards beyond where these photos were taken so if anything comes by in the daylight I should be able to get a shot.

I’ve also got another buck named “Tank Johnson” that I’ll be looking for this fall.  He’s a big bodied hog of a deer and I think he’s living on the same farm as Pistol Pete so who knows – maybe he’ll make the mistake of wandering by on Sunday afternoon much to the chagrin of my NAP Bloodrunner.

With any luck I’ll get a look at one of these three bucks this weekend, and if I’m really lucky I might even get a shot, who knows.  For now my clothes are washed, bow is in it’s case, stands are hung and I’m ready for the 3 month marathon that is the Illinois bowhunting season to begin!

Good luck to everyone who is heading out this weekend.  Make sure you wear your safety harness!

Justin Zarr
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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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