Early October Big Buck Down!
Early season whitetail hunting comes with its fair share of challenges, hot weather, mosquitos, long daylight hours and sporadic deer movement. However, with a good understanding of a buck’s tendencies a hunter’s odds can be improved. The whitetail’s necessities may shift with the seasons but can often be simplified to “food, water, and shelter (bedding)”. This story is an example of beating those challenging factors and achieving early season success on a mature 157” buck.
Opening Week of Illinois Archery Season
The acorns were falling on an East/West running ridge with thick undergrowth on one end and a small pond on the other. After sitting on both ends of the ridge the previous days without success, despite fresh cut soybeans nearby, the targeted buck had yet to be seen. A burst of daylight trail camera pictures the week prior had given us hope the buck would venture out of his core area toward the bean field once again.
This buck had been caught on several different trail cameras near the center of the property from the beginning of August through the week prior to archery season. Narrowing the focus to suitable bedding and the preferred food, and available water helped pinpoint the buck’s potential bedding area.
Time to get Aggressive –
A spike in temperature and rain coming the next day meant it was time to push into an aggressive set between potential bedding and the pond for an all-day hunt. On the way to the stand that morning the hunter said the ground was covered with nothing but acorns and deer droppings. With wind coming from the South, an hour after first light, a group of does began browsing across the ridge toward the pond. Not long after, the buck appeared lower on the ridge and slowly circled up to join the does.
The hunter was able to observe the buck for several minutes while it browsed on acorns and made its way closer to the stand. At the last second the buck went on alert and trotted further up the ridge. With a shot at 35 yards while the buck was quartering away the hunter took aim and let an arrow fly.
After the Shot –
After the hunter was retrieved from his stand, we made a quick search for the arrow and the blood trail. The shot was higher, but quartering away shot from a stand we were confident at least one lung had been hit. We found the arrow covered with good blood almost to the fletching. However, we struggled to find the blood trail. After only finding a few drops, it was decided to back out of the area and wait until later to continue our search. The buck was found approximately 150 yards away near the pond several hours later, making it our first buck of the 2023 season. The typical 6×6 ended up scoring 157″ inches!
Last Updated: October 13th, 2023