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In Illinois for the second firearms season, Matt took a nuanced approach to hunting Phase 10 – Green Revisited and despite challenging odds, it paid off in a big way.

Terry and cameraman Michael had been monitoring trail cams on a 160 acre lease in Illinois in preparation for Matt’s hunt. What they saw wasn’t encouraging from an overall deer herd perspective…but the bright side of things was that a few weeks back they had three shooter bucks show up on cameras. A few years prior, EHD had impacted the area and the deer herd was still recovering.

Despite the slim stack of possibilities, they hung a set for Matt’s hunt in a thin finger of woods extending out into a field of cut corn.

Cut corn? Isn’t this phase supposed to be about green food sources?

Here’s the nuance.

Among the corn stalk stubble in the field, lush clover had been naturally growing up. Once the corn was harvested, enough light hit the ground to germinate the seeds. A dry brown field of corn remnants to the naked eye was actually a natural thriving clover patch. A casual survey of the field would have overlooked this green food source. The deer however, did not overlook it.

In fact at 3 in the afternoon on Friday, the first deer popped out into the field to browse. Forty five minutes later, Matt’s cameraman caught the movement of antlers 70 yards away among the branches in the same draw they were sitting in. He was a shooter.

At the same time, Matt watched a doe get bumped out into field in the same vicinity, the handiwork of the buck working in the tree line. He readied his Traditions muzzleloader as the deer browsed and tended his doe 30 yards into the field. The deer paused at 70 yards quartering away. That was all the opportunity Matt needed to put a good hit on him.

The buck darted off only 20 yards before falling dead on camera! His 143 inches of antler lay in the green clover that originally brought him to the field.

Despite low deer numbers, dropping temperatures and a subtle green food source made a low-percentage trip to Illinois a successful one for Matt during Phase 10. Proof again that hunters are eternal optimists.

As told to Tim Kjellesvik