Sss3illinoisdeerandtur With most deer seasons closed by February, the cabin fever sets in for whitetail fanatics. What’s the cure? Visit a sport show or better yet, one of the many deer shows that take place from January through March in the heart of whitetail country. I just landed back in Wyoming after presenting seminars at the 2008 Illinois Deer and Turkey classic.

After gawking at more than 600 huge-racked whitetails brought in from throughout the state for scoring, I’m second-guessing my recent move further west. It only takes five minutes of looking at rows and rows of the jaw-dropping antlers to know something special is occurring in Illinois. Nearly 20,000 other deer fanatics joined me in the drooling and jealously.

Other than the Iowa Deer Classic, no other state show that I attend (and I regularly attend six biggies in whitetail country) has a truly unbelievable representation of current and historical trophies. It’s worth the trip. Why? When was the last time you actually didn’t pay attention to a collection of bucks scoring from 150 to 160 inches due to the amount of 170- to 200-inch bucks mixed in the medley? I can say for certain two things.Sss4illinoisdeerandtur

First, Illinois hunters certainly have something special. I think you know it, but you are spoiled. Whatever you’re doing, don’t stop. Second, based on the amount of nontypical points protruding from more than 75 percent of the entries (my unscientific observation); Illinois is on my “A” list for a rendezvous with a sticker-clad trophy. For show information go to

—Mark Kayser