Saturday 11/14: 5:45 AM I can’t say that the alarm clock woke me at 5:45 as I really don’t feel like I slept much at all last night. Today was the day in which I had been waiting for months…I was headed to Pike County, Illinois to bowhunt! I was to rendezvous with my friend and Outdoor Life publisher Eric Zinczenko, Mike Powell and Pete Angle of Underarmour performance apparel in the St. Louis airport and then drive to Barry, Ill from there. Fist I would have to run the gauntlet called JFK airport. I was feeling confident as I arrived at Terminal 2 an hour early…this would surely be a cinch and I would have time to grab breakfast before my flight. NYPD officers, 3 TSA agents, 2 Delta representatives and 1 hour later found me sprinting through the terminal like OJ Simpson in a Hertz commercial. I made my flight…but just barely. I met up with the guys at STL airport, loaded the gear into the trucks and we were off. It was very difficult to stay on the road when scanning the many crop fields for deer. We did manage to see a nice buck along the way which added to our excitement. We would be hunting with Hadley Creek Outfitters in Barry, IL and staying in one of their 3 camps. Hadley has access to over 30,000 acres and over 100 farms…and they have a strong track record of producing big bucks. The buck pictured on the previous page is a slammer that was taken this year. Sunday, 11/15 The camp manager told us to be on the front porch, ready to go by 4AM. Wake up came at a ridiculously early 3AM, and the bleary eyed bunch filed down to the kitchen for breakfast and to pack sandwiches. The weather forecast was for rain, and the rain started before we climbed into the stands.
I was in a hang-on stand 30 feet in the tree on a steep ridge above a green bottom. I had deer under my stand before first light grunting and chasing. The anticipation was unbelievable! The rain became a steady downpour for the next 12 hours and no matter what gear you have, you will be pretty wet after 12 hours. The morning was a good one as I saw a shooter buck within the first 30 minutes. He was an incredibly tall 8 point that would score somewhere in the 160 class. His G2s were 14 inches and his G3s were 13 inches. Unfortunately for me, he was chasing a doe and came no closer than 80 yards. During the rest of my morning sit in the rain, I saw a 130-inch-class, 9-pointer (he stopped at 20 yards, then bedded 75 yards away which you can see if you enlarge this photo), an 8 point, three 6 points and a spike (not to mention 5 does).
I am having more fun than it looks.
Even though wet, this arrow is ready for action
Everything is soaked through
We repositioned in the afternoon (without a warm up break….unfortunately) and set up on food plots. The rain picked up, as did the wind and the last 5 hours were very wet and cold. I saw another shooter buck (a 10 point this time) chasing a doe just out of range. Back at camp after dark, everyone is chilled to the bone and lined up to throw their clothes in the dryer. My camera is not waterproof and is now fogged up so there aren’t as many photos to post. Colder weather is coming–with some more rain. It doesn’t seem to bother the deer and the rut is in full swing from what we’ve seen here in Pike County. Join us all week in the Big Buck Zone for regular updates.

Outdoor Life’s Big Buck Zone heads to renowned Pike County, Illinois all this week on a rut hunt for trophy whitetails.