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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