Bad luck and bad shooting had made me think my Illinois “curse” would never end. This was my third hunt with IMB Outfitters at their Kinderhook Lodge in Pike County and although I had hunted with them on two other occasions as well as with a couple of other outfitters, I had yet to connect on one of the big bucks that the Land of Lincoln was famous for.
This year I had drawn a tag for the first gun season, so I felt confident about my chances. IMB has hard working guides and great accommodations at their Kinderhook Lodge. Everyone in camp was fired up the night before the hunt when a 150 class buck walked across the cornfield behind the lodge, along with another “shooter buck” which stepped out a little later.
The first morning started off cold and frosty. Just the kind of weather I was hoping would have the bucks chasing does all day. Not long after legal shooting hours I spotted a doe across the field being followed by a solid 140-150 class 10 point. I was shooting a Browning Gold 20 gauge slug gun with Winchester’s Partition Gold ammo and had shot it extensively, so I knew the buck was well with in range. The problem was, he was walking down the wrong side of the fence row and I couldn’t shoot through all the brush and weeds! I grunted at him with my True Talker, but he was too wrapped up in the doe to pay attention to me. At least things were off to a good start!
After watching more deer than I can remember over the next couple of days I finally got my chance on the second evening of the hunt. I was hunting over a cut corn field and early in the afternoon deer started to filter into the field. A couple of smaller bucks came out as the day wore on, but no shooters. About 45 minutes before legal shooting light ended, I noticed movement to my right. A nice 11 point buck stepped out into the field at 80 yards and began to feed. After looking him over I decided he wasn’t the biggest buck that IMB had to offer, but he would be more than enough to make me happy. When I squeezed off the shot he dropped in his tracks and never moved. My Illinois curse was finally over. Now all I need to do is go back for the REALLY big deer that I know are still out there!