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This has been a tough season to say the least....FOR EVERYONE! As you can see on our journal our numbers are down and based on the amount of people we have interaction with via social media and just general connections inside the hunting industry, it sounds like we aren't alone. 

Going in to this year I had a perfect plan in place :)  I spent a week over at Hadley Creek Outfitters while the Dream Season cast was there filming for this coming season.  We were there in what should have been the perfect time!  Last week of October.  Well the weather wasn't great.  The deer didn't move and not only did I not kill a deer, but NONE of the Dream Season Teams did either...which is pretty much unheard of for us on a group hunt.  It wasn't Hadley's fault....we have crews ALL OVER Illinois hunting since Oct1 and haven't got 1 whitetail buck harvested on film this year yet.  I've spent a total of 13 days in all hunting IL between Hadley and this property dad owns.  Jim Thome has hunted more then ever, Dad has hunted a couple of weeks over there.  Plus all the DOD Teams that hunt there.  JUST TOUGH!  

I headed over to dad's Missouri place for a few days before MO Firearms came in to try and get it done with my bow before me and the rest of MO's deer hunting population traded in Archery equimpent for the Thompson Centers.  Came close...but story of the year so far...came away empty handed!  

Spent the opening weekend of MO rifle season waiting on a 4 year old deer or better and it just wasn't happening.  I've seen plenty of deer over this whole time...just not the age class we were looking for.  Between Mark's crew and dad's crew we had several guests in camp with us from RAM Trucks (Brian Szalk and Dave Sowers) and we just couldn't get it done.

On Sunday evening we went in to a set that is on one side of dad's MO farm and had an awesome encounter with a 3 year old deer that dad called "Don't Shoot Me for I am 3" lol.  I nicknamed him PJ because he looked like a deer I passed several years ago at 3 years old called Prince (Prince Jr - PJ).   Of course I passed him....he was on a hot doe...and more importantly the no shoot list.  He went out of the field and towards the neighbor.  Shortly after that I hear 2 shots!  I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that the deer I just passed got shot.  But what can you do...that's the perils of hunting everywhere.  You just hope your neighbors share your same menatlity about QDMA, but ultimately to each their own.  They have every right to shoot at any deer they want to.  

The next morning I went in to the same spot and sure enough here comes PJ with a doe and he is limping....BAD!  Something had obviously happened to him between our encounter at last light and our encounter this morning at first light.  He was far enough away that we just couldn't see any visible sign (other then the limping) of an injury, but we got good footage of him and wanted to go back to camp and show dad and get his thoughts.  

Upon watching the footage at camp we all came to the conclusion that he was injured bad enough that we didn't think he would make it through the winter.  With either coyotes, or the neighbors dogs...or infection setting in.  He wouldn't have a great quality of living in the months ahead.  The plan was set....I was going to go in there and try and get an ethical shot and take PJ if the opportunity presented itself.  

That afternoon we go in to the same spot....at 3pm we see him!!  Of course I was texting my wife at the moment trying to convince her I would be home soon and he was in and out of the field so fast I never got a shot!  Ugh...put your phone down :)  

Next morning, November 19th, I headed back in the spot again with camera man Joe Foster.  Right at first light we see horns in the corn.  IT'S HIM!  He is still all over this doe and he is still limping as badly as ever.  He finally walked out of the corn and gave us a great broadside shot and I let the Thompson Center Dimension .308 bark with the Winchester Ammo!  Perfect shot.  Front shoulder....he ran 20 feet tops and expired instantly on camera!   

It was a bittersweet moment, because I wanted desperatly for that deer to grow into more potential.  I wanted desperately to kill a 4 year old deer in general.  I had hunted 19 days up to this point and passed more 3 year olds then you can count with bow and gun.  But ultimately we knew the right thing to do was to help end any suffering this deer was caused.  We respect the animal way too much not to.  So we accomplished our goal in that regard.  

We got everything done we needed to do and I got home in time to even purchase some tickets and surprise my understanding wife with a night out to the Justin Timberlake concert in St. Louis....a Happy Wife makes a Happy Life.  Right?!  Great ending to a tough first part of the season.

Now, on to IL for some unfinished business!  Then back to Missouri for some archery therapy. 

Hunt Safe and Identify Your Target!!  -Matthew W. Drury