This past Friday was the opening day of the shotgun season in Illinois. I’m not real big on gun hunting, but I do like to go out and shoot some does. I would much rather take a buck with my bow. If a monster whitetail presented itself, I probably couldn't resist taking him, but it would have to be a true giant.
My buddy and I planned to hunt different ends of a 150 acre farm and there were going to be 4 others hunting this farm with us. Along with those four, are more than a dozen others who hunt the same block of timber, just on other owners ground. Conditions were perfect for whitetails, it was right around 30 degrees, clear, and calm winds. I hunted the downwind side of a bedding area in a pine thicket. Adjacent to both the bed and the stand of pines was a wheat field. As soon as I settled in the stand, a dog started barking in the direction of the bed. Shortly after, a deer walked right under me and into the wheat field. I couldn't tell what it was because it was well over an hour before first light. During shotgun season, I like to get to my stand a couple hours before light in hopes that other late arriving hunters will push deer to me at first light. For the next couple hours, I saw nothing. Finally at 8 am, 4 does walked out of the bedding area and walked a trail that skirts the edge of the field. They walked past me at 40 yards. I was lucky enough to shoot the first two. I dropped the lead one, and put a great double lung shot on the second, she ran 30 yards and piled up. I ended my shotgun season quickly and did some good for the herd. I knew that these would probably be some of the only does taken off this property because of the mentality of the other hunters around.
My buddy was set up deep in the woods and saw deer the entire morning. Shortly after he settled in, two small bucks fought below him. He ended up seeing a monster 8 point buck that came in behind him. Unfortunately he didn't see him until it was too late. He was watching four younger bucks dog a hot doe in front of him. After they had passed, he stood up to stretch. When he did, the big guy saw him and ran. In total he saw 35 deer, ten of which were bucks. The majority was 1.5, but he did let a nice 2.5 year old 10 and an 8 walk. He ended up shooting a small 7 point that had been wounded earlier in the morning.
Two other hunters that were with us shot 2.5 year old whitetail bucks. One was an 8 and the other a 9. They would have been great deer next year. We’ve tried all year to get people to pass younger deer so we can all start seeing good bucks, but have been unsuccessful so far. They were both really happy with the deer, and if that's the case, then that's all that matters. Between the other 4 hunters and myself we saw close to 60 deer. Four of which were definite trophies. It was a great morning full of chasing and rutting activity. I would say the chasing was definitely in full swing.
I decided to film for my buddy on Friday afternoon since I was tagged out. We were running behind and headed out a little later than we wanted too. As we were walking in, not 50 yards from where we had planned on sitting, we saw a 170+ in. monster whitetail with a big 6 point. Had we been there by 1pm like we had planned, chances are he would have had a chance at the giant buck. We still ended up sitting in that spot and saw 6 does the rest of the afternoon, but the booner never showed himself again.