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Going into the 2013 Illinois deer season we had put in a lot of time and thought of what needed to be done to give Jim the opportunity to harvest a great buck. All spring and summer Jim and I would make almost weekly trips to the lodge to do a wide variety of land maintenance ranging from hanging new tree stands to designing biologic fields and hopefully drawing in and keeping the deer frequenting the area all year. Once the Reconyx cameras were out and the pictures starting rolling in Jim had noticed that the number of mature bucks weren’t there like they had been in years past. As summer rolls on Jim and I planted the biologic and really started to wrap things up in order to begin hunting.

October 1st is finally here and with high expectations the deer movement and numbers just weren’t there. At that point Jim had started to move cameras and put them in areas that we really hadn’t targeted in the past in hopes to catch a glimpse of a big mature whitetail. Once the cameras were out we let them sit for a few weeks before we went back in to check them. Much to our surprise a big non-typical was on a field that hasn’t been hunted much in the past. This was a spot that Jim knew was used by a lot of deer traveling to and from a destination feed field, but it wasn’t a spot that was easily hunted due to the structure of the land. This particular field had a blind set up on the other side of the draw and from early October when the first picture was taken Jim hunted this particular area on every south wind in hopes of laying eyes on this monster whitetail. Throughout October and November there was no sign of the non-typical. The only thing Jim had to go on was the Reconyx photos that were mostly taken at night. The rut has come and gone and the buck was still on camera, but this time he had moved to an area that was much easier for Jim and I to access. This particular blind has been in a great pinch point that leads from thick cover and bedding to large grain fields, making this a great location late season. Now getting into December the snow had started to come down and Jim knew that in these extreme weather conditions we had our best chance of seeing this particular buck on a feed field. The Reconyx was a major player in trying to pin down this particular animal due to the amount of time spent with no visual encounters.

Heading into January a major cold front and large snow storm was going to hit and we knew if we could bare the elements we had a great chance of laying eyes on the big non-typical. The snow starts flying the wind is blowing and with already hunting for two days and no sign of the buck we were after Jim, Chuck, and I sat down to review all the Reconyx photos of this particular buck trying to figure out a strategy to increase our odds of Jim harvesting this monster. We headed to the blind that evening using the tractor to barrel through the enormous snow drifts on the way to the blind. As the evening progressed the deer started heading into the cut corn and right at dark the buck we had hunted all season finally shows himself and looks to be heading our direction. Once he got to the cut corn and began to feed I knew Jim was going to be able to get a shot. At this point the windows were already open and the buck had already been ranged. The giant whitetail stayed at 50 yards. As darkness got closer and closer Jim made the decision to take the shot. With several deer in the field Jim ranged the buck one last time and came to full draw settling in with the PSE. When the arrow was released the Rage sent the buck to the ground. As the buck tore out of the field Jim was concerned that the shot was a little far forward. Giving the field time to settle down we climbed out and headed back to review the footage. After a quick review and sending the clip to Mark and Terry for a second opinion, we all agreed to give the deer until the following morning before heading back in to track. After a long night Jim and I headed to the hit site early the next morning where we began to find blood as well as a small piece of the arrow. Jim followed blood for a few yards with confidence rising in each step. After only 40 yards Jim spotted the buck in the bottom of a big ravine and the celebration began. What better was to end the 2013 deer season than with a bow kill of an elusive whitetail that Jim has chased for several months. What a great season it has been. Now it is time to start getting ready for 2014 hopefully having the same luck Jim’s had in the past.

As Told by Cameraman: Ryan Narup