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The fertile soil of Fulton County, Illinois is some of the best dirt in the world, growing bumper crops of soybeans and corn…and massive bucks.

Encompassing a good portion of the Illinois River, the landscape is crenulated with deep, forested drainages interspersed with ridges and tillable acreage. It’s a deer hunter’s paradise for those willing to do the work to get in there. A local bout with EHD during the summer though had deer numbers down and very few shooters on camera heading into the fall.

Terry and his cameraman Forrest had taken a calculated risk by setting up a double set of stands in one of those deep timbered drainages for a rare morning hunt. Usually mornings in a bottom are a no-go, but the high pressure and a west-northwest wind provided the perfect conditions for it. The two climbed up into the tree under the cover of darkness.

45 minutes into the sit, Terry saw a large-bodied deer headed up and out of the bottom toward a tillable field. Soon, the buck turned and came trotting back down, likely in search of a hot doe. True to Phase Six, the Buck Parade, this deer was on a mission and despite Terry’s grunts, would not stop.

Just as the buck disappeared out of sight, Terry hit the rattling antlers hard. The aggressive cracks of bone on bone spun the buck 180 degrees running back to Terry from 200 yards out.

The buck slowed as he neared Terry and Forrest, each step sending a ripple of energy across his generous frame. His head was on a swivel, looking for the fight.

With the buck broadside, Terry took the shot but the arrow landed further to the right, sending the broadhead between the near shoulder and brisket. Not the shot he wanted, but definitely a mortal arrow.

The buck bounded off and up the hill and stopped enough for the guys to see copious blood escaping from the wound. They backed out and headed back to camp without looking for the arrow or a blood trail. After reviewing the footage and seeing the shot was good, but giving it five hours to be sure, they headed back out for the recovery.

To Terry’s dismay, the blood trail dried up after 200 yards. With incoming weather, he knew he’d better reach out for the assistance of Tracker John, a friend who runs Bloodhounds to find wounded deer.

Given the size of the buck, the potency of his tarsal glands, and the gaping wound Terry’s arrow made, Tracker John’s dog Janie made quick work of the trail and led the team directly to one of the biggest bodied deer of Terry’s life.

Dressed out, the buck went 224.7 pounds and likely tipped the 300 mark on-the-hoof. Proof positive that the fertile ground in Fulton County is good for more than just growing crops.

Gear Used:

PSE Decree

Nomad apparel

Leupold optics

Reconyx trail cameras

Muddy stands

Rage Extreme 2.3 Chisel Tip

LaCrosse boots

HME scale

Tracker John Bloodhounds

Tim Kjellesvik, DeerCast Editor-In-Chief