Buck Down in Illinois
I hunted this past week in Pike county illinois with the notorious B.I.G Dale Carter with Carter Outdoors. I gotta say at first at face value I was a little disappointed… I had being hearing about the famed Carter’s Hunting lodge for as long as I can remember, so when i pulled up to this old farm house and stepped inside my heart sank a little. I don’t know why but I think I just expected an elaborate hunting lodge. It wasn’t until I started acquainting myself with the other hunters in camp that i realized that each and everyone of them with the exception of my two roomies Jeff and Jeff that everyone here has been hunting with Dale and Nathan for years… I think the newest client this was his 6th year in a row. this immediately changed my attitude and i started recalling my mother’s words “don’t judge a book by its cover”.
Well it turns out that all the accolades I got from the hunters in camp and the all the legends I heard were true…Dale and the boys at Carter’s know there shit and they’ve got monster bucks running around in the 6,800+ acres they control. I saw close to 25 deer per day most of them bucks, because of the 140″ minimum i found myself passing on mid 130″ deer on each sit. It was quite nerve racking for me, mainly becuase I had been on a 6 year drought with Illinois. I killed a great buck My first year out (153″), goose egg 2nd year, missed a 190″ buck on my 3rd try (uugh!) , made a poor shot and went tracking a bit to early on my 4th year (stupid) , no shooters on 5th or 6th.
This trend grew into a curse for me, I have a funny way of getting into my own head and manifesting stupidity. That’s why you are gonna love this story… I consider myself a good hunter.. well hell I get paid to hunt…but obviously even professional hunters make mistakes (as you can see by my track record in Illinois), especially when you allow yourself to sike yourself out. I always preach to people if you cant imagine yourself doing it, than you probably wont make it happen. The same goes for if you imagine yourself failing or making mistakes they are probably gonna happen.
So there I was the last morning having seen all these deer and passing on at least 10 bucks in the 130’s just itching to let an arrow fly and break my curse. 10am i get a voice mail and my phone vibrates, i hadn’t seen anything in over an hour, I surveyed my surroundings and decide to check the message, no sooner than I put the phone up to my ear I see movement down in the creek bottom, its a doe and she is being chase I quickly put my phone away and got myself ready. she was heading straight up the trail passed my stand. I thought ot myself here we go” This is when I Notice she was being pursued by two bucks the first buck was a 4.5 year old 150+ buck and the second 3.5 year 130″ buck. So i started to send the doe my “please baby come to pappa vibe”. And she did until about 30 yards from my stand she took a hard left and skirted passed my stand and behind me with the two bucks in tow. I quickly hit my doe bleat can and she swung back around my tree and started heading down a trail that would pass my stand. I could see the big buck was in the lead and hot on her heals. with a fear of being spotted I turned back and waited in lay for her to pass. Immediately after I she move passed my tree I drew my bow and picked my spot to shoot. the big body of the buck appear shortly there after I anchored my pin and let the Swhacker fly and watched it hit its mark perfectly entering just in front of the last rib and exiting out the opposite shoulder, the buck stumbled and crashed and he try to flee, that’s when my heart sank… I spun to look for the other buck and saw his impressive rack in hot pursuit of the doe. i had Shot the lesser of the two bucks……….. Shame and disappointment overtook the feeling of elation from completing my task. What would the others in camp think? what would Dale say? I had made a bonehead move, a rookie mistake, Breifly I seriously considered not saying anything about shooting a buck, but my love and respect for the animal would not allow me to do so. It was time to face the piper and face the realization that no matter how much time and preparation I put into doing what I do, I am still subject to making mistakes. After I stopped worrying what everyone would say and my “image” I started to enjoy the fact that I had shot a nice mature buck and had ended the drought in Pike county.
I plan on coming back to hunt with Dale possibly next January in the late Bow season