Snowmobiler Lays Claim to 180-Inch Illinois Buck

 

Ron and Caleb Morris with the 180-class Illinois buck they found after Caleb ran it over while snowmobiling. The buck was dead and buried in the snow when Caleb hit it. (photos courtesy of the Morris family)

Ron and Caleb Morris with the 180-class Illinois buck they found after Caleb ran it over while snowmobiling. The buck was dead and buried in the snow when Caleb hit it. (photos provided to Deer & Deer Hunting courtesy of the Morris family)

When Caleb Morris, of Amboy, Ill., was launched from his snowmobile on Nov. 20, 2016, after hitting a hard object buried under the 10 inches of recently fallen snow, it was safe to say he was thrown for a loop.

Thankfully, Caleb and his snowmobile were no worse for the wear. When he returned home, Caleb relayed his experience to his father, Ron Morris, telling him that he had no idea what he had run over that caused him to go airborne.

Five days later, Ron, who owns a septic cleaning business, was driving his truck through the same field. The field was private property and Morris had permission from the landowner to use it. Out of curiosity and concern that someone might get hurt, he drove to the location his son had described. The snow had melted off slightly, but he could still see the snowmobile tracks. As he got closer, he realized that the object was a buck. A big buck.

The Morris' called their local DNR office, and an officer came out to inspect the deer and provide them with a possession tag.

The Morris’ called their local DNR office, and an officer came out to inspect the deer and provide them with a possession tag. 

Ron phoned a stunned Caleb and told him about his discovery. They also knew they needed to report their find. Illinois Conservation Police Officers Shane Teas and Steve Beltran were called to investigate the Morris’ claim. In Illinois, the law requires any person who finds a deer killed by any means to contact a Conservation Police Officer before taking possession of the carcass. The exception to this is a roadkill deer, in which an individual can simply report the animal online and will be given appropriate confirmation number that allows the deer to be legally removed from the location and possessed.

“Once it can be determined that the deer was not unlawfully taken, a salvage tag can be issued and the subject will be allowed to take legal possession of the animal,” Teas said.

The conservation officers were impressed with the buck, but they were also impressed with the Morris’ decision to do the right thing and report the deer before taking possession of the rack.

Teas and Beltran discovered the buck already had been shot, which made sense. The previous weekend had been the Illinois Firearm Season. Coyotes had also paid a visit to the site.

“At the time the deer was found, it had been dead for some time and not a fresh carcass,” Teas said.

Beltran and Teas conducted an investigation into the finding of the deer and a salvage tag was issued the same day.

“We examined the carcass and determined the cause of death,” Teas said. “Further, the evidence in the field was consistent with the statement of the subject on how the deer was found. This is why it’s important we are contacted when a deer is found in this manner. The sooner we can investigate an incident the better. Especially with a deer of this caliber, which will no doubt receive a lot of attention.”

The 11-point buck featured a wide spread and impressive symmetry.

The 11-point buck featured a wide spread and impressive symmetry.

“Congratulations to Caleb,” CPO Beltran said. “I do feel bad if this was a lawfully taken deer and someone simply was unable to recover it. I would hope they exhausted every possible opportunity before giving up on a beautiful animal like this.”

The salvage tag gave Morris legal rights to possess the deer. He is now the lawful owner to use the deer as he chooses. It’s worth mentioning, however, that Illinois law prevents the sale of deer antlers found in this manner.

While not official, Morris’ buck green scored 180 inches and is currently being mounted at a local taxidermist.

THIS ARTICLE IS COPYRIGHT 2017 BY KERI J. BUTT FOR EXCLUSIVE USE BY DEER & DEER HUNTING. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 

Caleb Morris might hunt the rest of his life and never see a buck like the one he literally stumbled upon while snowmobiling.

Caleb Morris might hunt the rest of his life and never see a buck like the one he literally stumbled upon while snowmobiling.

ddh-rackjackmag-728x90