Illinois is the land of nontypicals. This weekend at the Deer and Turkey Expo, trophy bucks lined the walls with droptines, kickers, and extra main beams jutting off in every direction.
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I typically spend most of my deer season in New York and Wisconsin, where nontypical bucks are tough to come by. So, I was in awe this weekend at the Illinois Deer and Turkey Expo as one gnarly nontypical rack rolled in after another. Hunters were entering their bucks into the Illinois Deer Classic, and an inordinate amount seemed to be nontypicals.
It's no secret that Illinois and Iowa are home to some massive nontypical bucks. Of the top 20 nontypicals in the Boone and Crockett books, five of them come from the two states. But even knowing that Illinois is the land of nontypicals, it was impressive to see the trophy bucks lined up along a the expo walls with droptines, kickers, and extra main beams jutting off in every direction.
Glenn Helgeland, who started the expos 30 years ago said in some years as many as 90 percent of the entries in the buck contest are nontypicals. But the ratio fluctuates. Last year the majority of the bucks were typical trophies.
This year, the overall trophy buck numbers were down (the state deer harvest was down about 25 percent) so there were less monster nontypical bucks than usual. Illinois, like many Midwestern states, has been rocked hard by EHD. Some of the guys that I talked to at the expo said they lost up to 60 percent of the deer on their properties. Luckily the state is seeing a wet winter that should last well into March. With any luck and some smart management from the state, deer numbers should rebound.
In any case, if a trophy nontypical buck is on your bucket list, you need to take a hard look at Illinois. Here's what Illinois hunters turned out over the weekend…