“The Right Ten Acres”
By Christian Curtis of BANDED
I like most hunters, dream about owning my own farm. The dream usually goes something like this…1500 acres of bottom ground, creek running through the middle, with rich dirt perfect for growing corn and beans. Throw in a log cabin and a nice metal outbuilding complete with a walk-in cooler for meat storage and you have my Utopia. After the first weekend of the 2012 Illinois gun season, my dream has changed a bit.
Back in the summer, I got a call from a good friend from Southern Illinois. He asked, “Are you going to come up and gun hunt this year? My dad isn’t going to be able to make it the first weekend and I’m going to be up north guiding.” I was lucky enough to be able to hunt the same place last year and shot a decent buck…one I was thrilled with for sure but at the same time one that, knowing what I know now, I should have passed. When I hung up the phone, I immediately entered the draw for the tag and promised myself then and there, I was going to be patient. If it meant I left Illinois with my truck bed empty, that’s what I was going to do.
Fast forward to October 21st. I get a text from the same friend that simply stated, “Just shot a giant.” I texted him multiple times but didn’t get a response. Finally, I get a picture of him holding an absolute giant mainframe 8-point. About an hour later he called me and explained how he shot this deer and it’s going to score in the high 160’s but he was hunting one that was bigger. Then the exciting news…he shot it in his woods where I’ll be hunting. And, the big boy he was chasing was a 190 class deer. I couldn’t wait.
Finally the day arrived…I climbed in the stand opening morning and at sunrise the woods “freaked out!” Bucks were chasing does everywhere. It was the craziest thing I had ever seen. By the end of the first day I had seen a 135 class 8-point, a mid-150’s class 9-point, an awesome 130 class 7-point, and right at dark I caught a glimpse of an absolute pig. He was chasing a doe and I couldn’t tell anything about him other than he was huge. I climbed down and eased out of the woods and headed to the hotel. That night I processed what had taken place and tried to decide which ones I would shoot if they came by the next morning. (I didn’t have a shot at any of the deer mentioned above.) I knew that all it was going to take was a hot doe running by me and it was going to be a parade of big bucks by my stand.
As I climbed into the stand before daylight, I got settled, let the woods calm down, and waited for the sun to come up. This day started out much different…not much shooting within earshot, no chasing, and really pretty calm. After about an hour and a half, I started to wonder what the deal was. The weather was the same, the wind was perfect, but the movement wasn’t there. At 7:45 I saw a doe run into the woods I was in about 100 yards north of me. Right on her heels was an absolute giant 10-point. I knew the deer immediately from the trail cam pics…It was the 190. I waited for what seemed like an eternity hoping the doe would have turned south and headed my way. As I watched, I see another deer step out just where they ran in…it was a different buck…but equally as impressive. This one however did turn south. He was headed through the woods right at me. As he made his way toward me, he angled to the east a bit and ended up stopping fifty yards away quartering to me. I put the crosshairs on his right shoulder, squeezed the trigger. He ran thirty yards and fell over.
It still hasn’t really hit me…Just like that, I shot the biggest deer of my life. A 174” 10-point. Even more mind-boggling is the fact that my friends “farm”, is a ten acre patch of woods. I can’t wrap my head around the idea that this ten acres produces trophy deer like this year after year after year. It’s amazing! And to think that 190” deer is still out there…I think I’ll hit him up for a late season archery hunt!