Last year Ryan from LED Outdoors and I were hunting in Allegheny County Pennsylvania together when he asked me if I would like to go hunting on his lease at no charge in Illinois. I jumped at the chance and started planning right away for a fantastic archery hunt.
We would hunt together with members of his family and friends during the rut in some of the best Whitetail country Illinois has to offer. The temperatures would range from 24° to 70° so I needed to be prepared for all types of weather.
Two ground blinds were set up by Chase and Jake weeks before and I took an additional blind with me just in case we needed a third option. Chase and Jake are local guides and I just can't say enough about both of them. They could not do anything more to make my hunt successful, enjoyable and comfortable.
The guys in camp (Mike, Boo, Chuck, Sean, Joe, Bob, Brett and Steve) were all dedicated, passionate sportsman and fanatical archers. These guys were so much fun to be around and also so interesting to talk to about hunting. Everyone had an opinion on broadheads, bows, sent spray etc. and they were not afraid to tell you "you were using the wrong one...lol".
The land we hunted on was absolutely beautiful. I was hunting on 350 acres where I seen, squirrels, fox, turkey, coyote and of course monster buck.
I hunted hard all week and on the last day of my hunt, I got the opportunity I had traveled so far to take. A very large nontypical Whitetail buck was coming to the doe decoy, approaching her from behind and downwind exactly as Mike predicted.
As the buck got closer he noticed my ground blind and would look at the decoy, then my blind, take a few steps forward and look at me again. When he got to 42 yards he turned to face me offering a quarter to shot on his front left shoulder. He looked like he was going to leave the area and the doe decoy, so I did my best maneuvering my brace for the shot.
I whispered to Beth to raise my brace a little higher and move it to the left a little more. With her help I was able to get into position and take the shot. We both herd my crossbow bolt hit the buck in his shoulder.
I was so excited, breathing like I just ran the New York City Marathon. I had to take a few minutes and then text Ryan and the boys. Beth and I waited in the blind another 45 minutes before she went out to look for my bolt and blood.
Just then the Calvary had arrived, Ryan, Mike and Chase quickly found the blood trail but no bolt. The trail was bright red blood and they started the tracking process. Jake came a few minutes later and stayed with us.
After going a long way it was determined that the buck never layed down so we wanted to give him a few hours. Hopefully I managed to catch one lung and giving the buck time, he would expire.
Later in the afternoon the guys went back out and tracked my buck until dark. At that point we determined that it was a nonfatal wound after a very long arduous track. These guys were the best trackers I had ever seen. The next day was opening day of shotgun season and I was leaving for Pennsylvania. We had to call off the search.
Everything that could possibly be done to recover my buck was. It was not my best shot in the world but it will be one I think about for years to come. It's always the ones that get away that we think about in the middle of the night, right? Not the ones hanging on our walls.
Hopefully this will not be a my last Illinois archery hunt. The boys invited me back out again next year and we are already planning a different ground blind scenario. If everything works out with travel, my health etc. I plan on being there next November. Hunting is my passion and I could not ask for better people to pursue giant Whitetail Buck with than LED Outdoors and the Pittsburgh huntng crew.