By Tim Albrecht
-- November 16, 2007--When I left my truck, I watched two falling stars descend the western sky. Perhaps they would bring me luck. I wished for one of the "legend" bucks in the area to walk past my tree stand. Two neighboring farmers had found two tremendous sheds the previous spring, and as far as I knew, neither of the bucks had been harvested.
I was excited for good reason. First, the November Illinois rut was in full swing. Second, the surrounding area was being heavily hunted. Hunting pressure is normally a negative, but I felt there was a good chance surrounding deer would be using our property to escape other hunters.
My wife and I had purchased this 30-acre parcel just three years earlier. Located in the northwest corner of the famed Golden Triangle in west-central Illinois, the property is about an hour south of our home.
On November 1, 2007, I bowhunted the property for the first time. Deer movement was relatively slow that morning, but at 8:15 a.m., I passed on a beautiful 3½-year-old 10 point. Although I have harvested several bigger deer, this 145-inch buck was easily the largest deer I’d let walk in 25 years of hunting.
For the next two hours, I sat and questioned my sanity. But I continued to remind myself there were older bucks in the area, and that with patience, I might get a crack at one.
I left the stand at 10:30 a.m., and on the way to my truck, I bumped a very large 8 point. The animal paused briefly to look back, and I recognized him as the big buck I’d seen the previous December. He was a 140-incher. but now appeared to be in the 150 class.
Although I didn’t harvest a deer this day, it was easily one of my most satisfying hunting experiences. These two encounters confirmed to me that the older bucks in the area were using our property for bedding and security. I decided to stay off the property for two weeks until opening day of the firearm season.
On the morning of November 16th, I walked quietly and deliberately to my stand. Knowing the property was being used as a bedding area, I took more time than usual in getting to the stand.
Just before I arrived at the hunting spot, a deer must have heard my approach and began to blow 50 yards to the east. I knew that the animal could not have seen or smelled me, so I blew back at it. I’d read about this tactic to calm deer down and make them think you’re another deer.
I arrived at my stand at 4:30 a.m., and settled in as I waited for legal light. The slow south breeze was perfect for this stand. Minutes later, I heard the crack of several sticks in a small draw 75 yards to my south. I scanned the draw hard over the next 20 minutes. Finally, I spotted a large doe as she crept down the trail leading to my stand.
I’d decided not to harvest a doe on opening day, so I let her walk to the base of the tree and then pass it. Other movement caught my attention on the same trail behind her. A tall-tined buck was following the same path as the doe.
It took just a glance to determine that this buck was a BIG shooter. I immediately took my eyes off the buck’s rack and began to concentrate on a spot behind his shoulder. When the buck’s head disappeared behind an oak, I shouldered my Remington 870 Express pump shotgun.
With the big buck broadside at just 6 yards, I fired The buck ran 10 yards and stopped. I fired again, and it dropped. The doe remained 30 yards to my left scanning the woods. With one slug remaining, I raised the 870 again and fired. She ran directly toward the buck and fell just 10 feet away.
I sat down and looked at my watch. It was 5:23 a.m. I’d hunted for a total of three minutes, filled both of my tags and had just harvested the biggest buck of my life.
A mainframe 6 by 6 with six kickers, the buck is estimated at 5 years old and has 18 scorable points. Even with five broken tines, the buck gross-scored 176. Three of the tines were freshly broken. Had the buck’s rack been intact, it would have easily scored over 190 inches gross non-typical points.
It took three years, 30 acres and three minutes to harvest this magnificent buck. You can bet I won’t wait three years before I hunt this property again on opening day.