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December 5: Alisha Coon

I was very excited for my fourth hunting trip to Illinois! My dad had put out a Reconyx camera right by my blind and we are able to get some great photos. We didn’t get as many pictures as we usually do this year, so seeing some movement right before my trip was awesome. The weather forecast was an entirely different story. I knew it was going to be COLD and those early morning hunts were going to be tough. With my dad’s busy schedule, I only get so much time to hunt each year. The pressure is always on when it’s my turn to go.

The first morning was definitely slow with not much happening. But the evening was much better. I was hunting over a freshly cut corn field, so the deer were ready to eat! Far off at the edge of the field I saw a deer that I have named Bullwinkle. He was BIG, but decided he wasn’t ready to step out and really show himself just yet. There was also a nice 2 ½ year old that came out, but we decided to pass and let him mature. Even though I didn’t see a shooter, having the opportunity to see so many deer definitely helped me stay positive. The next morning was slow again with just one little spike. I always ask dad why we keep getting up to see nothing, but he insists that you just never know.

On my second evening the deer started moving early. I had a good feeling as more and more deer came out. At the back corner of the field, I saw a great buck coming out of the woods and he was moving! I got my Thompson Center Dream Season Muzzle Loader up right away and was able to get a perfect shot.

When the smoke cleared, I saw that he had run towards the woods, but that wasn’t an issue. The Thompson Center Shock Wave bullet did its job and we had a great blood trail. It didn’t take long to find my buck and I was so thrilled!! What was even better is that we have a Reconyx photo of him in velvet. Hunting with my dad is always a great experience and I’m thankful I get to spend time with both of my parents. I also have a great buck that I will definitely be checking those cameras for next year. I’m coming for you Bullwinkle!! A big THANK YOU to Joe for letting me hunt his farm and harvest another great deer. Go Team Mad!!

I was very excited for my fourth hunting trip to Illinois! My dad had put out a Reconyx camera right by my blind and we are able to get some great photos. We didn’t get as many pictures as we usually do this year, so seeing some movement right before my trip was awesome. The weather forecast was an entirely different story. I knew it was going to be COLD and those early morning hunts were going to be tough. With my dad’s busy schedule, I only get so much time to hunt each year. The pressure is always on when it’s my turn to go.

The first morning was definitely slow with not much happening. But the evening was much better. I was hunting over a freshly cut corn field, so the deer were ready to eat! Far off at the edge of the field I saw a deer that I have named Bullwinkle. He was BIG, but decided he wasn’t ready to step out and really show himself just yet. There was also a nice 2 ½ year old that came out, but we decided to pass and let him mature. Even though I didn’t see a shooter, having the opportunity to see so many deer definitely helped me stay positive. The next morning was slow again with just one little spike. I always ask dad why we keep getting up to see nothing, but he insists that you just never know.

On my second evening the deer started moving early. I had a good feeling as more and more deer came out. At the back corner of the field, I saw a great buck coming out of the woods and he was moving! I got my Thompson Center Dream Season Muzzle Loader up right away and was able to get a perfect shot.

When the smoke cleared, I saw that he had run towards the woods, but that wasn’t an issue. The Thompson Center Shock Wave bullet did its job and we had a great blood trail. It didn’t take long to find my buck and I was so thrilled!! What was even better is that we have a Reconyx photo of him in velvet. Hunting with my dad is always a great experience and I’m thankful I get to spend time with both of my parents. I also have a great buck that I will definitely be checking those cameras for next year. I’m coming for you Bullwinkle!! A big THANK YOU to Joe for letting me hunt his farm and harvest another great deer. Go Team Mad!!

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My dad had put out a Reconyx camera right by my blind and we are able to get some great photos. We didn’t get as many pictures as we usually do this year, so seeing some movement right before my trip was awesome. The weather forecast was an entirely different story. I knew it was going to be COLD and those early morning hunts were going to be tough. With my dad’s busy schedule, I only get so much time to hunt each year. The pressure is always on when it’s my turn to go. 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I have bowhunted in Kansas once before with no luck but I was determined to get a good buck with my bow this year. However, we did not expect sub zero wind chills that would force us to the box blinds and to bring out the TC. On opening day of gun season, Jeff, Matt, and I piled into a box stand at Jeff's favorite spot on our farm. As usual for that week, we really didn’t have any deer to come in until later in the afternoon. All of a sudden, we had a group of does that were to the right of us and three bucks walked out of the timber to the left of us, across the fence. We seen one shooter in the group so Jeff grunted at him. He was a 8 pointer with a kicker on his left side.

We figured him to be around 5 years old and knew it would be a good buck to harvest. Jeff had some pictures of him but didn’t have a name but I did not care! The shooter we were after was very wary of the whole situation. He wanted to go to the does we had on the right but he couldn’t make up his mind. The next thing I know, two out of the three bucks are crossing paths so all three of us were trying to make sure that I was pointing the gun at the right one, it got a little hectic! Since I had the right buck in my crosshairs, I had to wait for him to get to my window. When he did get to my window, he took off running after jumping. I had to quickly move my rifle from one window to the next. When I set my gun down on the second window, it made a loud noise and spooked my buck!!

All eyes in the field were on me all of a sudden and I just knew I missed the perfect opportunity! He flinched as he was about to take off again but stopped. It was too late, he already had a hole in him by the time he realized it. He ran no farther than 30 yards and we were all celebrating. I am almost 4 months pregnant with our first child but it goes to show I still got it! ;-) This is my first Kansas buck ever and I’m so proud of it! I’m so thankful for the opportunity to hunt with my first rate guide and husband, Jeff and Matt who laid down the footage. Good luck to all of you this season! Ashley

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However, we did not expect sub zero wind chills that would force us to the box blinds and to bring out the TC. On opening day of gun season, Jeff, Matt, and I piled into a box stand at Jeff's favorite spot on our farm. As usual for that week, we really didn’t have any deer to come in until later in the afternoon. All of a sudden, we had a group of does that were to the right of us and three bucks walked out of the timber to the left of us, across the fence. We seen one shooter in the group so Jeff grunted at him. He was a 8 pointer with a kicker on his left side. 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Rewinding back to December 2012, Jim and I had finished hunting for a few weeks because he was fortunate enough to harvest two great bucks in November. At that point, looking forward we sat down to address the things that needed to be accomplished in the off-season to maximize the opportunity for Jim to harvest a giant Illinois whitetail in the fall of 2013. With this being the first season that Jim wouldn’t play baseball, it would give him the time and ability to really focus on his farm and take all of the steps necessary to get ready. As the months rolled on the crops were planted, stands were hung, biologic fields were planted, and the Reconyx cameras were put out. A few weeks later, the first round on the cameras were checked. Much to our surprise there were only a few good bucks using the area. July came and passed and at this point we were starting to contemplate whether or not EHD had hit the area or if the bucks had fed somewhere else during the previous summer months.

October came and we were extremely excited to start sitting in some of the new big game tree stands Jim and I had hung over the summer. The Reconyx began lighting up and gave us hope that a monster buck would show himself and give Jim a shot opportunity. The deer movement was very slow from October to November. If it hadn’t been for the constant Reconyx photos of mature deer we would have lost our confidence, preventing us from heading to the stands as often as we did. The bucks were definitely on their feet, although most of the photos had been taken at night. The rut had come and gone, as well as first gun, without an opportunity for a mature whitetail. Second gun came in and with an extreme drop in temperature we felt that the deer would be on the food sources. Saturday, December 7th we were sitting in a blind overlooking a winter bulb and sugar beat field that was starting to show a lot of browse pressure. Early in the evening several deer began to pour onto the field and began feeding. At about 3:15 a mature buck stepped out of the corn following a doe. As soon as I laid eyes on him I knew he was a mature shooter. After a quick shuffle in the blind to turn on all of the cameras, Jim got positioned for the shot. The deer was broadside at about 40 yards and Jim settled in and made a perfect shot. The buck left the biologic field, only making it about 60 yards.

After a few quick phone calls the celebration began. Terry had left his stand to come join us for the recovery of Jim’s deer. It was great to have everybody in camp to share the excitement of harvesting a big mature Illinois whitetail like this one. The Illinois season has been extremely tough and with the kill numbers way down it was great to finally connect with a deer that had not been visible all year. With only one Reconyx photo of this particular buck, he was the last deer we expected to step out on that Biologic field that evening. All in all it was a great week of second shotgun in Illinois. With the late season still ahead, I hope our luck continues and Jim is able to connect with another giant. Good luck and safe hunting!

As told by cameraman: Ryan Narup

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At that point, looking forward we sat down to address the things that needed to be accomplished in the off-season to maximize the opportunity for Jim to harvest a giant Illinois whitetail in the fall of 2013. With this being the first season that Jim wouldnĂ‚’t play baseball, it would give him the time and ability to really focus on his farm and take all of the steps necessary to get ready. As the months rolled on the crops were planted, stands were hung, biologic fields were planted, and the Reconyx cameras were put out. A few weeks later, the first round on the cameras were checked. Much to our surprise there were only a few good bucks using the area. July came and passed and at this point we were starting to contemplate whether or not EHD had hit the area or if the bucks had fed somewhere else during the previous summer months. 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