Brrrr’n Down-Illinois

This story starts in July of ’09. I was coming off a successful year with my first attempt at food plots and I was excited about putting in a few more this season. There was a small fenced in one acre field at one of my spots where the landowner had planted corn back in 2006. I would walk by this field every night heading back to my truck and there were always deer in it.

The following two years the landowner did nothing with this area. It was late in 2008 when I approached him and asked if I could put in a food plot. He said go for it and I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to get things going in 2009.

I had an extremely busy summer but finally found time to get the food plot planted in July. The seed of choice this year was the Vita-Rack “fall mix”. Once the seed was in the ground, it was up to Mother Nature to do her thing. We had plenty of rain, but we never got the warm temps normally required to help things grow.

I was quite surprised in August when I realized this plot was really taking off. It was no time at all and this stuff was well over my knees. I couldn’t wait for opening day of deer season, but even more so….I couldn’t wait for COLD temperatures and snow cover. There is nothing like sitting over a tasty food plot when the deer have nothing but “food” on their mind. I actually prefer this situation over the rut because it is much more predictable.

Fast forward to December 11…opening day of the Illinois muzzleloader season. Shane had to work until noon and our plan was to get ready and head to the ground blind on the north side of the food plot as soon as we could get ready. The temperature was 6 degrees and there was almost a foot of new snow on the ground. If anything was hitting the food plot, their tracks would give them away.

As we turned down the lane at the farm, we could see 12 to 15 deer already feeding in the plot. This was a good sign and we quickly got ready and made our way to the blind. The deer had left the plot when we pulled down the lane so we didn’t bump anything while walking in. When we arrived at the blind, we found it collapsed with a bunch of ice and snow on top of it. I wasn’t worried though, because this wasn’t the first time this Ameristep Brickhouse blind had been flattened by ice and snow. I crawled inside and stood up, punching all of the ice and snow off the roof. The poles popped back into their normal position and we were good to go.

<="" p="">

As we sat there, I started day dreaming on how the night would turn out. Would the 180”+ buck that I caught on my trail camera finally show up during the day….or would one of the other five 140” to 160” bucks caught on camera pay us a visit? About the time I was picturing the big boy showing up…Shane brought me back to reality when he said a deer was approaching.

A yearling doe was the first to enter the plot, followed soon after by her twin and momma. Soon after that a small 7 point also joined them for a snack. They fed for a while but noise at the farmhouse spooked them out of the field. An hour went by before our next visit. Over the next 20-30 minutes, deer after deer starting filing into the food plot. These deer put on quite a show “flinging” snow in the air and then dug down for a snack.

We had a dozen or so deer in the plot when the next buck approached from the south. I quickly recognized him as a buck I had a trail cam picture of, and it didn’t take long to decide he was a shooter. He was an interesting deer with five points on the left and at least six or seven on the right. He spent several minutes facing us as he fed in the plot. By the time he gave me a broadside look at him, the deer population in the plot had doubled….and most of them were inside of 50 yards.

As Shane and I prepared for the shot, I had to wait because several more deer were entering the plot from the side and they were directly behind the buck. Shane took this opportunity to move the tripod closer to me so he could get a great over the shoulder view of the action out of the same window I was going to shoot from.

Once the deer behind the buck cleared, Shane gave me the “OK” and the TC Triumph sent a 250 gr. Shockwave Super Glide into the vitals of the buck as it stood just 50 yards from the blind. When the smoke cleared, the buck was getting back on its feet and it made it to the far side of the plot before dropping out of sight. We were a bit surprised that the buck got back up after the shot and since it had fallen out of sight, we decided to sneak back to the truck after dark to warm up and to make a game plan for what we hoped to be a short recovery.

Once we could feel our hands and feet again, we packed up and headed back to the plot. We started back at the blind and slowly made our way to where the buck had fallen. The temperature was dropping fast and we were hoping for a quick recovery. We were also hoping that the camera would hold up because the LCD screen was starting to freeze up on us and frost was forming on everything.

As we made it to the last scene point of the buck, I caught a glimpse of antler with my flashlight. He had not gone far at all…falling just out of sight behind a snow drift. As I approached the deer I was pleasantly surprised at not only the mass but the unique antler configuration which included double split brows and 8 points on the right side and 6 on the left.

I’d been having a very challenging year and it sure felt good to finally have the chance to put my hands on a deer. It was especially rewarding because of all of the hard work involved in getting the food plot established. I love it when a plan comes together. I just wish it would happen sooner next time  hahaha.

I want to thank Shane for being patient with me and hanging in there when the going was tough. He laid down some killer footage and this was his first kill captured on film.

Hunter: Scott Wolfe

Cameraman: Shane Sullivan