The chase after this deer started back in the 2017 bow season in Central Illinois. It was a mid November day. I went to one of my stands on an acre food plot at about 6:30 that morning, and there he was at 75 yards. As soon as he stepped out, I knew he was a shooter.
This deer didn’t stay in the food plot long and walked straight across the field into the woods. The rest of the morning I had great action. I got down out of my stand around 10 O’clock and went to my grandparents to eat breakfast. Around 1 pm I headed back to that stand, hoping to get another glance at this deer. The hunt started of with a bang! There were deer everywhere, and there he was standing in the field; but he was way too far for me shoot. He was tending a doe so I knew there was no way I was going to get a shot. I put down my bow and grabbed the binoculars. I just soaked it all in!! As the afternoon went on he kept showing back up with this same doe. I saw him a total of 6 different times that night yet every time he was out of range.
That night, walking out of the woods, I grabbed a trail cam and moved it to the crossing he was using. I just happened to get one picture of this deer but the rest of the season he was no where to be found. No trail cams pictures and no sightings of this deer! I ended up getting another trail cam picture of him mid day the last day of season, January 18th at 12:00, and that was it for the rest of the year. No sheds, no pictures, no sightings; nothing!
Fast forward to the summer of the 2018-19 deer season. I was mowing trails, putting in food plots, but I just knew this deer was out there somewhere. The food plots started coming up really well but then we hit a dry spell and the plots went downhill. I was disappointed in them but I kept my head up and knew that the deer was out there. So, in mid September I mowed off the plot and hung my camera up anyway just to see what was moving through there.
On September 29th I pulled the card and BOOM there he was on September 26th daylight pictures of him! He was the stud I was watching! My confidence level went way up just knowing that this deer was alive and he was showing up during daylight hours still early in the year.
On October 1st, Josh Mccarty, a family friend of ours and a mentor of mine, helped me go hang stands. I explained to him everything I knew about this deer: where I thought he was, and where I thought he was traveling. He and I went into the woods checking for signs of deer movement and we came up on a big rub line. Josh looked at me and said “you need to put that stand right in here”. I picked the tree out and we hung the stand together along with a few cameras.
Two weeks went by and I was so eager to pull my camera cards. I only had 1 picture of him. In mid October he started showing up in the food plot more regularly, but only at night . I was so excited that he was still on the farm.
I hunted the plot a few times but the wind just wasn’t right and I never saw him. I hunted another 4 times but didn’t see him, just action of other young deer. I was still getting him on trail cam pictures, however.
I went into the rub line stand Halloween night hoping to catch him in the working and sure enough I did! He skirted me at 75 yards. I was happy I seen him and I knew that he was on his feet during daylight hours. The next couple days it rained and I had to work but I knew the next clear day I had, I was going back in there.
Saturday November 3rd. It was a beautiful sunny day and my high school football team had a playoff game. I knew I couldn’t go because I had the right wind, the rut is just about to start and I needed to be in my stand. I was feeling a little guilty about not going to support my buddies on the team. My mom even begged me to go with them. But my gut said differently. My gut told me I needed to be in that stand.
I headed out around 2 O’clock that afternoon to get in my stand. I got all set up and had deer on top of me with only being in my stand 5 minutes. It was decently slow but it was still early. I watched two more does work through the woods and around 4:30 I watched a little buck work across the ridge on the other side of me. I grabbed my grunt call and grunted 2 times thinking maybe it will bring something in and about 5 minutes later I saw legs walking down the hill. It was another doe. I knew there was a buck behind her so I grabbed my bow and was ready to rock and roll! It was the little buck that I had seen moments before and he was following her. I watched him make a ground scrape and she fed up the ridge from me about 20 yards. That little buck pushed her to about 10 yards away from me and then I heard leaves crunching. I looked over my shoulder and there he was, stopped at the creek. He then saw the doe and worked up the ridge about 40 yards to my right. I watched as he made another ground scrape as the doe was right under neath me. I just knew he was coming.
I got ready and here he came on a string; 30 yards to 20 yards to 10 yards behind a tree. As soon as he got behind the tree, I pulled my bow back and he took 4 more steps. I smoked him at 10 yards and he went down in 50 yards!!!
I’m so thankful for sticking to my gut instinct to make this dream hunt of him my reality. Thank you to Dusty, Josh, Charlie, Gunner, Shane and Ty for helping me get my deer out. I can’t leave out my Mom and Samantha for all their patience. I will never forget this hunt.