A 200-inch Illinois Giant
After sitting through an entire season of bowhunting Illinois, my patience was wearing thin and, frankly, it was getting cold. Already mid-December, the snow had arrived and temperatures were in the teens. You couldn’t ask for better conditions to intercept bucks, so I headed to Golden Triangle Whitetails.
There are only two times a year when the real giants let their guard down. The rut is one, and late season is the other. It is obvious why they quit paying attention during the rut. Bucks get one chance a year to breed does and they can hardly contain themselves! They’ve been waiting an entire year and finally the does have that twinkle in their eye.
After the constant chasing, breeding, and fighting of the rut, these bucks are tired! Can you blame them? Tired and cold, they need food, and they need it now because winter is quickly approaching and they are run down. Deer will travel great distances to fill their bellies, and when they find a good food source, they’ll normally stay close.
The food source I was hunting was a 3-acre bean field. Beans are a perfect late season food source because they stand tall allowing deer to find them in the snow. Within minutes on stand there were deer on the field. Two little bucks were fighting in the corner, and then there he was.
The buck of my dreams! He stepped onto the field 150-yards away and obviously had an empty stomach. As soon as I got over the initial shock, I started preparing. No more looking at him, no more judging the rack, just like I was taught.
But how do you ignore this enormous rack? I did my best and just waited ... and waited … and waited. It took him over 20 minutes to walk only 100 yards. He had walked a diagonal path so he was still over a hundred yards away and I was still shaking. When he hit the opposite corner of the bean field I lost sight of him. I assumed he was just out of eyesight, but I couldn’t be sure.
What I needed right now was a miracle!
Ask, and you shall receive… Believe it or not, a pack of coyotes showed up and sent all the deer running right in my direction! The deer were a bit nervous but obviously still very hungry. They continued eating and two coyotes circled around the field pushing them again, even closer! The big buck tried to stand his ground but then decided to join the rest of the deer, which lucky for me was directly in front of my tree stand. Talk about good stand placement! As the deer fed in front of me, I was really trying to control myself.
I was worried I might spook them with how loud my heart was pounding…not to mention the heavy breathing! He took a few steps but refused to come any closer than 50 yards. As soon as he started quartering away I drew my bow. There was no way I wanted to let this guy go and apparently this was the only shot he was willing to offer. The coyotes were surrounding the field and I was worried they would spook the deer at any moment. I waited until his leg was forward, placed my pin accordingly, and touched the release.
Seeing the arrow hit that buck was one of those “priceless” moments. Everything had come together and all the hard work instantly paid off. The buck went about 30 yards and almost dropped right there in the field. My life would have been much easier if the buck had dropped 30 yards away, but it took miles of tracking before my trophy finally appeared.
It was such an incredible buck, 15 points scoring 202 inches!! By far my biggest buck. What a dream – taking a Boone & Crocket my first year bowhunting in Illinois. Forget about getting Christmas presents on Dec 25; mine obviously arrived one week early. Must have been a good kid this year!
Posted by Melissa Bachman