December 5: Taylor Drury

The Track of A Lifetime

I was lucky enough to draw a full-season Illinois gun tag this year. After the success I had experienced last season at Hadley Creek, I could not wait to get back to Pike County, Illinois for gun season. First season came and went, we saw plenty of deer, just not the shooters that we had our minds set on. The next weekend we climbed into a tree with a bow in hand and not 30 minutes go by and here comes a mature, 8-point buck. I thought I was going to be able to make a shot but after ranging him he was 35 yards, which is outside of my range.

Fast forward to Saturday evening, December 6, second weekend of Illinois gun season: First Jeff and Roxanne Propst headed out, then JJ Kolesar and Kyle Lamore, and after that it was our time to leave. Bundling up for the frigid weather I felt as if I doubled in size. But if there is one thing that I have learned about whitetails, the colder the better!

The action intensified outside of our box-blind as deer after deer poured into the bean field. The sun was setting and the light was getting dim, the thought crossed my mind we were going back to camp without a deer. I was wrong! While in the middle of sending Jeff a text about their movement, I heard my dad say “shooter!” I instantly went into shock mode, threw the phone down, grabbed my Thompson Center Contender, and could not believe my eyes when I saw the same 8-point we encountered last weekend. It was awesome because the buck started at 125 yards then ran all the way into 90 yards while chasing other bucks away from does. I then made the shot and to say that I was “a little” ecstatic was an understatement! My dad and I went back to review the footage with Jeff Propst and we all THOUGHT it was a perfect shot.

Long story short, after tracking for a great distance along with many guides from Hadley, we decided to call John the tracker and his dog Jesse. They geared up and we were in the woods again within an hour. There was lots of blood but still no deer after about 3 miles. It was now 3:00 in the morning and we all went back to get some sleep. The race was on again the next morning. Jesse, the dog, was on the trail and lead us right to the deer. Everybody was more than excited because of all of the effort and energy that we put into tracking this buck. When examining the deer we realized that we were a little off on the shot placement, instead of hitting its lungs, it hit the liver. No wonder we tracked him for an estimated distance of 4 miles! We were thankful that we had a dead deer on the ground because we did not want the hunt to end on a bad note. Thanks to every single person who helped me on this journey. It will be a hunt that I will NEVER forget.

Good luck in the woods and stay safe!
Taylor Drury