Jay Does it Again – Monster down in IL….
By: Jay Maxwell and Brian Stephens
Contributor to StickemArchery.com and Pro Staff Member
On November 12th, 2009 the anticipation was increasing as I made my last sales call of the day. Five o’clock was nearing fast and all I could think about was loading the truck for my second trip of the year to the Land of Lincoln! Long time best friend Jordan Dozier and his brother –in- law Mark Milliken were meeting me at my house at 7:30pm to pull out. The goal was to drive all night to our final destination; an old house place on public land in Illinois.
Three weeks before, my dad, another one of my best friends Kevin Watkins and I had spent a very long six days hunting some private land in Adams County with South Fork Outfitters owned by good friend Tad Peter. Hopes of sticking a pre rut beast with my buddy Tad proved to be a rough task for the week. With over 95% of the corn still standing in the state, deer movement was scarce. We were on our own as far as guiding was concerned, but one of Tad’s best guides Jeremy Nesselrodt had already hung some pre-season stands on the farm to get us started. We had traveled up a month earlier to learn the farm with Jeremy and to hang a few cameras. To make a long story short, Kevin managed to find a funnel leading out of a corn field that payed off on the third day by shooting the heart out of a 159 inch giant 13 pointer. That gave the rest of the week hope, but soon faded away as Dad and I finished up our last afternoon. I can’t say I will never go back during the month of October, but the chances will be slim. I thank Tad for a great trip and many more to come!
After Jordan, Mark, and I got through Nashville, Tennessee during the early morning hours, we were sleepless as the night grew colder with temperatures around 30 degrees. We pulled through the main gate around 4:15 am wide eyed and ready to roll. I didn’t take us long to realize we weren’t the only guys arriving early. We followed a faint dust trail down the long dirt road for the next two miles. Jordan and Mark knew it would be a long hike in as they had already been there scouting a few weeks before. They had hung a couple lock ons in some jam up spots that they had tried to hunt before getting there week rained out. Needless to say, they were fired up about returning to their honey holes where Mark had already seen a shooter during the rain.
As we pulled into out parking spot next to an old house and a large bean field, the temps were steadily dropping into the 20’s. It was all we could do with our chattering teeth to get layered up outside the truck and set out on our long walk. While riding up I had picked out a big CRP field to climb up on since I was somewhat in the blind. After sitting for almost two hours with no deer in sight, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I had to go find fresh sign to get on for the afternoon hunt. I knew scouting could take a while so I needed an early start. It wasn’t long after climbing down that I saw two guys walking out of an area I had in mind to check out. This made me think “Where can I go to get away from the pressured areas?” The main gate kept popping into my head as I walked back to the truck. After meeting up with Jordan and Mark and revising our aerial map, I decided to gamble the afternoon and hunt near the main gate. The boys dropped me off around 2:30pm for another long hike with my 40 lbs of gear. I hunt with tree climbers and a lock on, so I can go up any tree I need to. I had a long narrow CRP field in mind that I was bound for that lead down to a standing bean field on one end. The land is very hilly and makes it tough for packing in and out. I had walked through a thicket down an open hardwood ridge, across a creek, and started up the other side. I had to stop every 30 yards to catch my breath and trying not to sweat was almost impossible. I found the lower end of the CRP field several hundred yards later and the scouting was on! I knew I wanted to get to the highest point of the field if I was planning on doing much calling. The field was cleaner that I had thought, but after that long walk, I was going to hunt it! I noticed the field crested to the highest point about half way down and kind of resembled an old house place. I had four or five huge oaks that supported an old latter stand someone had abandoned on the tree I had picked out. A deer trail led straight down the center of the field to with in 15 yards of the big oaks. Since they were so big I decide I would climb the old ladder slowly to the top and lock on my stand above it. After struggling for nearly 20 minutes I finally had everything situated. It was an odd set up, but I knew it could be good. I was only about 18 feet high, but I could see 150 yards to my right and 150 yards to my left. The field was only about 50-60 yards wide and dropped steeply off both sides into deep hardwood creek bottoms. This was the ideal calling set up, in my mind. The wind was perfect, dead in my face from the NW leaving the long narrow field wide open to any deer approaching.
I had been set about 10minutes before I picked up my Primos Buck Roar and made a few aggressive grunts in each direction. They echoed down the field and through the hardwoods sounding like a love sick lipcurler. I shoved the call into my pocket as I grabbed my HS rattled bag. I smashed between my hands resembling two bucks locking up, followed by some grinding, mixed in with a few more long frustrated grunts. I love calling deer and believe you should put as much realism into it as possible. I gave a few extra tending grunts as I finished my first series. I had that thought of “all right, lets just sit back and relax for a little while” when I looked down to my left and immediately saw a deer headed in my direction. It was a buck with his head down walking up the same trail my stand was on. He was a solid 120 yards out. My first thought was “shooter! I can’t believe it”. I stood up and grabbed my bow with my left hand to be ready for what was coming. The big boy stopped a 100 yards out, staring hard for what seemed liked forever, letting me know he was coming to my calling. I grabbed the buck roar from my pocket and hit it away from him 4-5 times while I watched from the corner of my eye. He started walking again with his head staring hard for the intruder. He only made it about it another 20 yards and turned to my left angling down wind of me. I hit the grunt again several times with some short tending grunts. He stopped briefly then broke into a trot on a charge toward me! I kept trying to anticipate his route, but he kept changing it trying to get down wind to my left. When he reached the 60 yard mark still headed slightly to my left, I used the buck roar one last time to pull him back. I slammed it in my pocket as I lost sight of him behind the stand of oaks I was in. I could hear him, but I couldn’t see him! “Where are you big boy” as I clicked my release on my loop staring hard for any movement. “Here we go” as I see him at 45 yards walking through some tall grass. I eased my 84 pound Hoyt Alpha Max back checking all my components in the process to make sure everything was perfect. He stopped quartering slightly to me at what I figured was about 40 yards. I settled my top pin high on his left shoulder and touched it off! My Muzzy Mx3 was on the money as my arrow pierced through his shoulder blade slicing the top of his heart and exiting two inches behind his opposite shoulder. He leaped forward with a staggering death jump strait down a steep ravine about 75 yards just out of sight. All was quiet as I sat motionless listening for any sign of life, but nothing. I hung my bow on its hanger knowing I just smoked an absolute monster and on public land! “Did that really just happen”! That’s when the uncontrollable shaking set in with the biggest rush of all that us whitetail freaks dream about! ”Thank You God” is about all I could utter as I sat down digging for my cell phone to call Jordan. I told him as best that I could that I had just smoked a giant with 3 ten inch tines stacked down his left side. I don’t really remember too much of that conversation I was so excited! I gave my deer a very long 15 grueling minute before I had to get down for a peek at him. I started tracking slowly until I noticed the blood trail was painted on every leaf and limb for the next 20 yards. I ran and slid the rest of the way down the hill stopping 5 feet past his nose. “WOW, what have I done” I said to myself as I lifted his huge rack from the ditch he was in. That’s when I let out a little Whooohooo down through those hills. I thanked God again and two hours later me, Jordan, and Mark were tackling each other and doing high fives over 186 inches of antler! All I can say is with many hours, a lot of persistence, and most of all the right place at the right time can payoff with some unforgettable memories to share for a lifetime! Jay’s deer was recently featured in Rack Magazine as a featured story. Additionally, Jay still holds the Georgia State Record for Non-Typical harvested with Bow (gross score over 231 inches). Jay is also a very accomplished Turkey Caller and Hunter.
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Originally posted 2010-07-22 09:21:06. Republished by Blog Post Promoter