Illini West Whitetails

Tracking the Prey



Sunday Dec 7 –It was the last day of the 2008 Illini firearm season. The alarm sounded at the usual 4am and it was cold! The thermometer on the beer-can laden cabin porch showed nine degrees. I took a much needed piss and went back in the cabin to get the coffee going and see if I could rouse any hunting partners. Louis Branchaw Murphy was up and ready to fill his empty meat freezer. We did a shot of Powers and made our plans. He would be in the ground blind in Coeur’s and I was headed to the Stump stand. I was hoping the radishes Pat had sewn in the early fall would bring out some hungry animals. Louis and I did a shot of Reserve Stock Wild Turkey and mounted the 4 wheelers and set off to our spots.


As soon as I was up and settled in the stand I heard a buck grunt somewhere in the darkness of the woods. This buck had miles to go before he sleeps. I never heard from him again. Time moved slowly that morning – the cold worked its way through the layers of clothing much quicker. Quicker than any hunt that comes to mind. It did not help that there was no activity, no gun blasts, no deer sightings, nothing.


Eight-thirty came and I stood up and turned around in the stand to put my empty coffee thermos away and there he was – 300 yards due south of me in the field edge and headed towards Pats food plot.  It took forever for him to move close. With my Binoc’s I could see that his 10 points – while fairly big – look odd.  I determined that he was an older deer and needed to be culled.

When he got close enough to fire – I let it rip and hit the buck. He ran down the hill to the Old Quad area. I found no blood but did find white hair. I follow his path (thanks to the light snow cover) quite a ways with no blood. I stopped, relieved my bladder and headed back to figure out what went wrong. Then a few yards back I found specks of blood, then a big pool. I called Tim and he advised me to come to the cabin and have a warm breakfast and then we all go and track the buck.

Over some hotcakes and bacon we made a plan. Getting ol Shylock was part of the plan – he had proved himself in the past and we might need him….


Pat, Louis, Mitch, Cam, Tim and Shylock were all on the trail. Shylock jump way ahead and Tim took off with him.  Things happened fast after that, the dog was all over the buck that now was unable to get to his feet. He was however able to use his horns as weapons and was wildly thrashing at Shylock. Chaos ensued as every was yelling for the dog to heal and weapons were aimed at the mortally wounded buck. Tim and Mitch both finished of the old deer.


His mouth had only a few worn molars towards the back and he was very light in weight compared to our other deer. He had most likely led a full life and sired many a fawn.


The gun is clean now and stands in the corner……I am going to have to sight it in when the earth warms up again.