Rack Magazine

Woods Less Traveled

Woods Less Traveled

By Jill J. Easton

Testament to the first-time-in-a-stand proverb

The 80-acre Jackson family farm in McDonough County, Ill., is a whitetail magnet. It attracts and holds deer because it has the only substantial stand of timber in the area. Fingers of woods run out into the surrounding bean fields, offering cover right next to the groceries.

Andy Jackson of Colchester knows the property better than he knows the lumber he sells. He’s been hunting it since he was 14, and he’s taken three giant bucks there.

His first monstrous whitetail — and the only one to be measured for Buckmasters so far — fell in 2005. That November morning didn’t get off to a good start.

Andy was obsessed with a big 10-pointer photographed  by a trail camera at the beginning of bow season. Although the deer was never seen during the day, Andy hunted it hard and often.

When the shotgun season opened, he was back in the same tree, looking for the same deer.

“About 10:00 that morning, I finally decided, ‘To heck with it.’ I was being stupid, spending all my time on one pretty good deer,” Andy said. “That buck was nocturnal; it wasn’t coming out during the day.”

On a whim, the hunter moved to a spot where he’d never put a trail camera, a place he hadn’t hunted in several years. Minutes after he got his climber attached and scaled the tree, two good-sized does trotted onto the adjacent field.

“When I saw the way the does were acting, I knew a buck was close on their scent,” Andy said. “I started rattling, and, within a few seconds, this giant buck ran across the field and stopped within 70 yards of the stand. I had no clue such a buck existed.”

Andy never had luck rattling before that day, and he doesn’t know what made him pick up the antlers.

Woods Less TraveledWithin seconds of seeing the buck, he was rattled, too, even more so when the deer turned broadside, looking everywhere for its fighting brethren.

“When I saw it, I was shocked and amazed,” Andy said. “I was shaking so badly that my shotgun’s sights were bouncing around like I was jumping on a trampoline.”

He had to sit and take deep breaths for what seemed like an hour before he could calm down enough to squeeze the trigger. When he did, the shot flew true and hit the buck right behind the shoulder, but the animal didn’t fall.

Not one to let cartridges corrode in a barrel, Andy kept on shooting. And the buck remained standing.

“What kind of a super deer is this that won’t die?” Andy wondered.

Finally, the buck started running. It covered 60 yards before disappearing in a cluster of trees. From his perch, Andy couldn’t see the buck go down. He spent several nervous minutes trying to decide what to do.
“The whole hunt took less than 10 minutes,” he said. “It happened faster than I can tell the story.”

It took some time after the buck disappeared before Andy could get down the tree.

“After the shot, I was shaking and elated and excited. I’d never imagined a deer that huge in this forgotten spot on our farm,” Andy said. “The shots went true, but the buck took off like it wasn’t really hurt. I had to sit for a while and take a breather. There was no way I could get down the tree.”

When he finally made it to the ground and found the deer, he was shocked.

“Seeing it lying there, I thought it had a tree growing out of its head,” Andy said. “The buck looked even better than it had at 70 yards, and it was a lot bigger in body, too. The longest point was 13 4/8 inches, and I could barely wrap my hands around the bases.”

When his dad showed up, he was amazed at what Andy dragged out of the woods. It took both of them to load the buck on the four-wheeler, and it still hung off on all sides.

The buck was 5 1/2 years old and weighed more than 300 pounds.

Since that hunt, Andy has taken in the same area a 10- and a 13-pointer even bigger than his 2005 buck, but neither has been scored. He has a room full of big bucks that he’s mounted himself, but this one has its own special wall.   

Hunter: Andy Jackson
Official Score: 161 2/8
Composite Score: 178 3/8

– Photos courtesy of Andy Jackson

This article was published in the November 2010 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.

Copyright 2018 by Buckmasters, Ltd.

Copyright 2017 by Buckmasters, Ltd