Illinois brothers celebrate taking nearly 450 inches of bone in less than two weeks.
Brothers Austin and George Chandler share a peculiar language consisting of three-word sentences.
“Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh,” for example, means “You won’t believe the size of the buck I just shot!”
With these two, such a statement is purely rhetorical, since neither is surprised by the other’s accomplishments.
George hears it more often than Austin, but they both lapsed into tri-syllable-speak in 2011.
The Chandlers hunt six farms, encompassing more than 2,000 acres of prime Illinois deer habitat. They’re selective, too. They usually pass up bucks wearing less than 150 inches of antler.
Last season, the bowhunting duo got it done three times in 12 days to claim nearly 450 inches of bone.
DOUBLE-DROPPER FOR AUSTIN
One of the Chandler family farms is called The Pasture. All but 50 of the 160 acres in the river bottom is timbered.
After lunch on Oct. 23, Austin headed to the woods earlier than usual to relocate a treestand.
After taking down the stand, he carried it to an area they call The Big Draw, a high-traffic corridor for mature bucks during the rut. Austin shot a 165-inch 15 pointer there, and his dad’s biggest buck came out of the draw, too.
But as Austin arrived at the huge oak tree where he’d planned to hang his stand, he discovered the strap was too short. Instead of walking back to the truck for another, he hid within the branches of a nearby fallen oak. The setup seemed sufficient with good cover, and a favorable wind was blowing in his face.
About 45 minutes before dark, a large-bodied buck appeared on the ridge. Closer inspection confirmed it was a shooter. The rack was dark and wide with a long drop tine on the left side.
Austin didn’t recognize the deer; his trail cameras had never photographed it. He figured it was just cruising through, looking for does. The buck walked past several huge rubs and cautiously sniffed the air.
At 80 yards, the buck turned and walked out of sight, breaking Austin’s heart.
About five minutes later, however, it reappeared on the same trail heading down the ridge directly to the hunter. When it reached the base of the ridge, it was just 40 yards away.
Austin felt relaxed as he drew his Mathews bow and focused his pin on the buck’s vitals. The shot took out both lungs. The buck ran back up the ridge and out of sight, and Austin thought he heard the death-crash about 100 yards away.
After regaining his composure, Austin packed his gear to return home for some help.
On the way out of the timber, he called George to tell him the amazing news. But instead of a play-by-play of the hunt, all he could say was “Oh my gosh, Oh my gosh!”
About halfway to his truck, Austin decided to check a trail camera over a huge scrape beneath an apple tree. He took the camera’s memory card to George’s house for review.
He told his brother the buck he’d shot was in the 160- to 170-inch range with a large drop tine.
Surprisingly, the card held images and video footage of the drop-tined buck from that very morning at 6:30. It was then that Austin saw the extra points the buck sported on the other side of its rack. After a couple of hours, the brothers were joined by their dad and a couple of friends to start looking for the deer.
Back in The Big Draw, Austin and George led the pack. They quickly found half his arrow. The blood trail made it evident the Rage broadhead had done a splendid job. Eighty yards up the ridge, the buck was lying where Austin thought he’d heard it fall, and it was much bigger than Austin originally thought. Its mass was thicker, the spread wider, and another drop tine and some extra points were on the other side.
As the group celebrated, they tagged the buck and reminisced about all the nice bucks that have been shot in The Big Draw over the years.
Trail camera junkies, Austin and George get thousands of photos every year. They start running cameras in August and continue up until the bucks’ antlers drop.
Two bucks at the top of their 2011 list were on a nearby 600-acre family tract called The Bluff.
One buck was a mainframe 10-pointer with split brow tines and an extra point coming off the burr, thus the nickname Burr-head. The other, The Bluff 10, was a slick 5x4 with long, bladed brows. Although it carried more mass and tine length, it had lost a point since originally named the previous year as a 10-pointer.
On the afternoon of Oct. 30, George and Austin once again headed afield. They hoped it was George’s turn to loose an arrow.
He’d hunted a stand three times that week. Normally, he would’ve let the site rest, but while trying to fill his second buck tag the previous morning, Austin spotted Burr-head from a different stand about 200 yards away, moving in George’s direction.
The treestand faces north on a ridge with a heavily used north-south trail. The east side of the setup is a steep drop-off, while the other side leads to the neighboring property — an overgrown pasture. There was a large, freshly worked scrape nearby.
George had been in the stand about an hour when a mature buck jumped the fence from the neighbor’s land. He didn’t realize it was Burr-head, but he knew it was a shooter.
It came down the trail, slowed and then stopped directly beneath him, offering a 5-yard shot. But as George anchored his bowstring, the buck spooked and ran. Fortunately for George, however, it paused just long enough.
The spined buck instantly collapsed, but it regained its footing as George nocked another arrow. Before it covered 20 yards, another arrow was on its way.
Knowing neither shot was ideal, George and Austin agreed to wait until the next morning to start the search. It was the right call, and they found the buck without much difficulty.
THE BLUFF 10
Because a friend was visiting from out of town, Austin didn’t plan to hunt on Nov. 4. But when morning came, the temperature was in the 20s and his remaining buck tag was burning a hole in his pocket. With a later than usual start, he chose to return to The Bluff.
He planned to hunt from the same treestand from which George had shot Burr-head.
The large scrape down the trail was still being worked daily, so he knew bucks were frequenting the area.
Within 15 minutes, he saw a 7-pointer coming down the trail. Fifteen minutes after that, another buck appeared on the ridge that borders the neighbor’s pasture.
One look through his binoculars and Austin knew it was the Bluff 10.
The newcomer spotted the 7-pointer in the draw and paralleled the fence line, raking trees along the way.
When it finally chose to jump the fence, it was just 40 yards from Austin, who drew his bow and held it for more than a minute, waiting for the buck to turn broadside. Normally very accurate, nerves and fatigue must have affected Austin’s shot placement, which was low and back.
The Bluff 10 retreated and jumped the fence back onto the neighbor’s property. The hunter caught glimpses of it moving through the trees and was relieved to see it lie down.
About five minutes later, a 130-inch 8-pointer walked through the draw, up the hill, and jumped the fence. It went straight to Austin’s downed buck.
Bristled up, it walked over to the Bluff 10 and challenged it with a snort-wheeze. The mortally wounded buck laboriously rose to its feet only to have the smaller buck chase it in circles.
Luckily, a few curious does appeared, and they soon ran away with aggressive 8-pointer in tow.
The Bluff 10 slowly walked out of sight.
Austin was disgusted and left the woods to give the animal time to expire. About six hours later, he, his dad and a friend returned to follow the trail, starting where Austin had last seen the deer.
The sign diminished 100 yards beyond there. After another hour of searching, Austin’s father located a pin drop of blood leading into a thick bedding area with numerous crisscrossing trails.
Each of the guys chose to follow a random trail.
Thirty yards into the search, Austin spotted his buck bedded down and staring at him. He quickly launched a final arrow to finish the job.
MEASURING THEIR SUCCESS
Last season was special for the Chandlers. Austin’s double dropper scored 188 3/8 with the spread; The Bluff 10 carries a BTR composite score of 158; and George’s buck, Burr-head, tallied 161 5/8. Read Recent Articles:
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This article was published in the Winter 2012/2013 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Subscribe today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.