Bruiser In Sight...And Still Going

I am not a patient hunter. I'm successful largely because I cover lots of ground and prepare to hike longer and farther and higher than the other guy. Make me mobile and '‚m going to get game.

So it's a special kind of torture for me to spend all day in a treestand, unable to get on the ground and make my own luck. We were told in our orientation here in Illinois that "walk-abouters" weren't tolerated here. And I understand it. We have so many folks on stand that if someone started meandering around the woods would screw everyone up.

I say this as a preface to my day, which started with the expectation that I'd again be 12 hours sitting on a seat the size of a phone book 25 feet in the air. If it was a day like yesterday, with action every moment, I can handle the sit. But today started eerily silent and only got colder. Deer just weren't moving, either because of the warm windy conditions or because of all the corn harvesting going on up on the ridge above me.

After a solid four hours of nothing, I started glassing the landscape, trying to put antler tines on every oak brush and hawthorn around the La Moine River valley. Miraculously I saw a buck, a smaller 3-point (these Midwesterners call it a 6-point) bedded along the river bank. Then my binos resolved a doe and a smaller buck, looking over his shoulder. I panned and my heart jumped in my throat. There was an Illinois bruiser, wide and tall. Not real heavy but a solid 160-class buck, methodically tailing a doe.

He was 200 yards away, but he might have been two miles. I was bound by the prohibition on cross-country travel, plus the oak leaves were crunchy as potato chips. Still, I picked out an approach that might put me in bow shot, and the thought crossed my mind more than once: It's better to ask forgiveness than permission. Who would know if I just made a careful stalk, arrowed the buck and then told my guide that I had shot it from my stand?

I was torn, but eventually I did the right thing, and went in for lunch, the first time I have come off stand in the middle of the day this entire hunt. Back at camp we strategized a stand that might put the bruiser on my evening spot. I set up on a freshly picked cornfield, but you know the rest. I saw only does and junior bucks, including a 3-point with a busted antler on his left side.

I have two hours to hunt in the morning before I drive to St. Louis for my flight home. I'd love to spend another couple days here, but I have to be in northern Saskatchewan for another whitetail hunt by Sunday night. I'll try to report from the field, though the chances of getting email access from camp are pretty slim.

Wish me luck for the morning sit. I only need about two hours to sluice a big boy, maybe three if I can't go on walk-about.