Illini West Whitetails

Basket Buck



Saturday afternoon (10-31-98), my boys Mitch-8, Cameron-3, and I (along with Mitch’s friend Justin) made it to Carthage in time to see the Blueboys kick the shit out of Dakota 46-8 in the first round of the Class 1A state football playoffs. Following the game, my parents went to a party leaving me with no babysitter.  With a little cash, I was able to convince my teenage nephew, Bobby to watch the boys. At about 4:30, I made it out to our newest stand “The Perch” that sits out on a wooded point over the edge of a cornfield (Rut & Buck both hunted this stand during the Fall Extravaganza).  I chose The Perch because it was getting late and I needed to get to an easily accessible stand.


The conditions seem favorable for a nice afternoon hunt. It was overcast, spitting rain and the wind was light from the north-northwest. The deer could come from any part of the surrounding woods and not smell me until they were farther out into the corn stalks south-southwest of me.   Also, the cornfield had just been picked Thursday and as most experienced hunters know, deer love freshly picked cornfields.


Just after I sat down, I looked to the left (toward the Logging Road) and noticed a doe and her two fawns making their way across the picked field.  They had come out from a heavily wooded ravine west of me, near our old barns.  As the doe family walked across, they looked back to see a tall fork-horned buck (Tall Fork) appear from the same wooded ravine.  After a short period of time, Tall Fork chased the family unit into the woods near the Logging Road. 


A little while later, the doe returned from the woods and proceeded in my general direction.  At about 25 yards out and not quite downwind, she stared, stomped and sniffed the air wondering what the motionless blob in the tree was.  Several uncertain minutes passed before her two fawns finally made their way toward their mama.  One of the fawns presented an open, broadside shot at 20 yards however, the doe continued to stare at the frozen blob and I was unable to draw.  Then, as luck would have it, Tall Fork appears from the Logging Road to distract the group.  I draw my 73# PSE Intruder on the fawn only to have the arrow pulled off the rest by the rubber arrow guard (this normally does not happen).  At full draw, I try to put the arrow back on the rest by flicking the broad head with my gloved finger.  Well, you can guess what happened.  My thumb release was somehow activated which sent the arrow rocketing into the corn stalks and sent the doe and her twins into flight. 


After mumbling and grumbling under my breath, I regained my composure and noticed that Tall Fork was still standing there by the Logging Road.  I nocked another arrow as Tall Fork watched in the direction of the wooded ravine.  Could there be another deer coming? Of course, out steps a bigger buck with a rack as wide as his ears.  This was not a giant deer by any stretch of the imagination, but a decent “shooter-sized” buck about the size of the deer that damn near trampled me during the ‘97 shotgun season.  I watched intently as the two bucks meandered out in the stalks and ate corn. The bigger buck continued toward me, but at about 50 yards out, he veered north toward the Logging Road.  Then, for no apparent reason, both bucks ran into the woods between my stand and the Logging Road.


By now, it has gotten late as time and light have oozed away.  In the twilight I could still see my fiber optic pins. Just as I decided to get down out the stand, I noticed a big deer with antlers approaching.  Since the deer was big bodied, had antlers, and had come from the direction where the two bucks entered the woods, I figured the buck to be the “shooter-sized” deer that had previously entered the woods with Big Fork.  Because it was twilight and the buck was broadside, I was unable to judge the rack. The buck was walking by at 17 yards out and I had to make a split second decision. So I pulled a Bwana-be: “It’s a deer and I’m deer hunting”.   I placed my 20-yard pin on the deer’s shoulder as it walked by.  Once he cleared the branches, I released and crumbled the buck in his tracks.  The Bear broad head had nipped the spine and entered the chest cavity causing the deer to loose all rear motion.  As he spun in a circle on the ground, I shot again but missed.  When he stopped spinning, I delivered a third arrow, which hit the boiler room.


The whitetail was a nice sized basket-racked buck, and, unfortunately, he would have been a “Hog” someday.  Little had he known that his demise would be attributable to the influences of contest held by state environmentalists. 


I have numerous photos of the deer that will soon be developed.  The buck had a 41-inch chest circumference (equates to 172# field dressed weight) and was 52 inches long from the end of the neck (base of skull) to the tip of the hindquarters. The rack is small with eight points.


It was a very enjoyable and successful hunt, one of which I shall never forget.