194″ Whitetail – Illinois Buck of a Lifetime!

Mark Spillane was lucky enough to get the opportunity at a buck of a lifetime this week and was able to seal the deal with a 194 inch buck known as Jackpot. Whitetail manager Matt Brunet had been chasing the buck for two years, and was finally able to close in on the brute. Last year, Jackpot was not seen by a hunter, leaving Matt with only nighttime trail camera pictures and hopes of the buck making it one more year. He was lucky enough to find one side of his sheds this past winter and estimated the buck to be in the 170’s. The game started over when Matt got the first picture of Jackpot in late September 2015.

This year however, the buck became more apt to move during daylight hours. Matt was able to get a few trail camera pictures during daylight hours over a small, hidden, watering hole near where the buck bedded in mid October. Then towards the end of October, the buck started to frequent a turnip patch nearby the water hole. A bow hunter had an encounter with Jackpot in the food plot but the buck never came close enough for a shot, then the buck went off the grid for a few weeks.

It wasn’t until the first of December when the buck started appearing again at the turnip patch. The only problem was that the deer was coming out on the north easterly side of the food plot and the next few days wind forecast wasn’t right for the stand location over the food plot. Matt set up a ground blind near where the buck had been seen coming into the field. So the stage was set for opening day of muzzleloader weekend.

With unseasonably warm weather and relatively slow deer movement during the past week, the odds seemed to be in favor of the buck. But after another season of chasing does and fighting off subordinate bucks, the 7 ½ year old brute was looking to refill his energy supply and started to get lackadaisical with his daytime movements.

Matt positioned Mark in a ground blind on the downwind side overlooking the turnip patch around noon on December 11. It didn’t take long for deer to start filtering into the field. The first group of deer that came in where primarily does and yearlings. At around 3:30, a couple of nice 3 ½ year old eight pointers made their way into the field. Mark was watching the two nice up and comers devour some turnips when something got their attention on the timbers edge. Mark peered over towards the timber and out crept a monarch of a deer. Jackpot walked cautiously out of the timber and into the turnip patch just 75 yards away from the ground blind. Mark wasted no time and tried his best to steady his aim. Jackpot came to a stop and Mark squeezed the muzzleloader off. When the smoke cleared, Mark could see Jackpot stumbling to the ground. The behemoth had succumbed to the power of a high quality food source.

Even though Jackpot’s body was enormous, his rack was even more impressive.  At 7 ½ years old, he had grown 19 score able points that totaled 194 inches. A true monarch of a buck, one that Mark will cherish for the rest of his life.

Trail cam photo from last year.
Trail cam photo from last year. Shows what one more year can do.
Jackpot's shed found in the winter of 2015
Jackpot’s shed found in the winter of 2015.


Congrats Mark on a buck of a lifetime!

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Last Updated: December 14th, 2015

7 thoughts on “194″ Whitetail – Illinois Buck of a Lifetime!

  1. Congrats on your BIG BRUTE I feel as if there’s one in the works out there for every hunter there’s always going to be a special whitetail that touches a hunters heart and wall at some point in his lifetime LOL. Thanks for sharing your hunt and story congrats again you definitely hit the ” JACKPOT ” .

  2. I would like to say thank u first killer hunt. Good hunting storie. I would love to have a shot like that in my life but I would like to say congrats to all that help in the hunt. He is a pretty boy.

  3. That’s a beautiful deer and congrats to Mark for getting it done and to Harpoles Lodge for giving people the opportunity at first class deer through good management practices.

  4. well its hard to hunt the white tail deer here in bc as they live in the thick bush and don’t hang out in the fields ive never seen a buck so big here I have only got one old one and he was a 9 pointer big body and long tines how did you know the bucks age ive got some 10 pointers on my camera but come hunting season cant find could you tell me what to plant to keep them coming back to my camera spot aLL MY CAMERA SHOTS ARE AROUND MIDNITE WHEN THEY COME TO A WATER HOLE DAVID

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