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December 4: Kyle McClellan

The perfect storm finally struck on Kyle’s Pike County, Illinois farm and the aftermath included a trophy buck and one happy camera guy.

2016 had been a grind for Kyle hunting 26 days before finally taking a mature buck. Add in the 2015 season and you’ll know why cameraman Rick Bauer was so relieved to capture this hunt on camera. The two had been hunting together for two years and this was their first kill they were able to video.

Since October 28, Kyle had 64 Reconyx pictures of a mainframe eight he had nicknamed, “Swoops.” It was one of three shooters he had identified for this year but it seemed whenever Kyle would setup to hunt, the deer would show in pictures on another part of the farm. They played this game of Whack-a-Mole until December 4.

The problem with Swoops was that he seemed primarily active at night. When Kyle saw that a cold front was impending, he and Rick made plans to sit in a blind on a green food source (see Phase 10 – Green Revisited).

Rain transitioned to snow in western Illinois and a group of six does had popped out into the food plot Kyle was hunting over. Right behind them joining the does in the field was four and half year old Swoops. This was the first time Kyle had actually laid eyes on the deer. One of the does in the group seemed to be hot, as Swoops ran off a few younger bucks snooping around the females.

Finally at 80 yards, Kyle leveled his Traditions muzzleloader on the buck’s vitals and squeezed the trigger while Rick captured it all on camera. Swoops ran 40 yards before falling over into the snow. In the blind, you couldn’t tell who was happier; Kyle for killing his target buck or Rick for getting to finally film a kill.

If you read any trend in these journal entries, it should be that weather is the primary indicator for deer movement. Kyle took advantage of an incoming cold front and as a result, tagged out on a great Illinois buck.

As told to Tim Kjellesvik