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“Go Time” in Southern Illinois

Coram DavisBy Coram Davis
-- Nov. 10, 2007, is a day I’ll never forget. I am 42 years old and have gun hunted whitetails for most of my life. Five years ago, I decided to finally expand my hunting season, not to mention increasing the game in my freezer, and started bowhunting the most fantastic big game animal out there.

I have successfully harvested does each year, but buck fever had always seized me before the 2007 season unfolded. Not only did I fill my first buck tag with a bow, but I also scored with a 14-point non-typical that grossed a whopping 164 7/8 inches – my best buck ever!

It started like any other bowhunt: eat, shower, dress, double check gear bag, and then head to the woods. The morning was crisp and cool. In southern Illinois, it was "go time" for the bucks and does.

First up that morning was a young 8-point buck, followed by three mature does in a hurry. I knew something was up with them. Sure enough, a mature 9-pointer that might’ve tallied 160 was next out of the chute.

I was still watching it, when, to my surprise, I heard another grunt and turned to see a mainframe 10-pointer with chocolate-colored antlers and junk on nearly every point. I was about to fall out of the tree!

The two big bucks squared off, and they treated me to snort-wheezing, grunting and posturing before the 9-pointer decided to throw in the towel. After that, the bigger buck turned around and vanished, leaving me in a state of shock.

I went in for lunch about 11:30 and quickly decided to hunt the afternoon in a different stand that might put me closer to where the big buck had appeared. There was a little action between 2:00 and 4:00, but then everything grew silent.

At 4:45, I decided to give it five more minutes. I hunt in the hardwoods, where it gets dark sooner.

When I stood up to grab my quiver off the tree, I spotted the big non-typical on the heels of a doe. Behind them was the same 9-pointer it had fought that morning.

The non-typical grunted and snort-wheezed at the 9-pointer, and it ran if off five times. All the while, I was looking for shock paddles for my heart.

The big boy made three scrapes before following the doe to within 6 yards. SIX YARDS, and I didn’t have a shot where it stopped. The doe, meanwhile, was trying to make sense of the blob in the tree.

As fate would have it, the 9-pointer couldn’t stand the fact the doe was standing still, so there it came. When it got to 25 yards, the non-typical spun around to chase it away (while I came to full draw). I issued a soft "baa" when it was broadside at 12 yards, and then I released the arrow.

With holes in both lungs, the buck ran 35 yards to the timber’s edge, stumbled, bolted another 30 yards, and then fell. Watching it go down for the count was truly a remarkable way to cap a wonderful day in the woods.

--Coram Davis

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