My Illinois whitetail season officially started on October 28. It was one of those nights when it just felt right and I was excited to be hunting a new stand on a section of the farm I have never hunted before. A good friend was running the camera as we sat over a Vita Rack Winter Forage plot.
This area was originally slated to be corn but I had talked to the landowner and he allowed me to have a half acre of the “finger” to put in a plot. It all started in the spring when I had a bumpy time dragging the field that had been chisel plowed the previous fall. Once the soil was prepped, I just waited for the right time to go in and plant the Vita Rack Booming Beans.
As the summer progressed, so did the beans. This was my first time using this particular product and I was quite pleased with the results. Not only did I have a great looking summer food plot, I was getting tons of great trail camera photos of bucks in velvet.
Following the Vita Rack Crop Rotation plan, late summer found me tilling under the beans and planting Winter Forage. This is a great rotation plan which greatly reduces the cost to have these plots by minimizing the amount of fertilizer needed.
This is where things got a bit challenging for me. The location of this food plot was tucked away with a standing cornfield blocking my access with big equipment. Any implements that would be used would need to be small enough to pull behind my ATV and narrow enough to fit down the trail. With that said, all I had to work with was a small pull-behind disc and a drag.
The beans were tall and the ground was a bit firm, creating a challenge to get a good seed bed for the Winter Forage. I did the best I could, and even though the plot didn’t develop like I had hoped…it was definitely a great learning experience for me. I learned that soil prep is VERY important and I will rent a tiller if I have to next year.
I left this particular plot after seeding it, knowing that I was taking a chance by not having the soil as loose as I would have liked and it resulted in a plot with several patches of no growth. With that said, what did grow came up nicely and I was lucky enough to get a lot of great bucks on my trail cameras.
Now fast forward to October 28...about an hour into our hunt I decided to rattle. It was my first time rattling with a rattle bag so I told Shane to get ready. It seems that every time I try something new....it works great the first time but never again. I rattled for about 15 seconds and less than a minute later a small 8 point was standing 30 yards from us. He spent several minutes investigating the area but bolted when he saw my buck decoy out in the plot.
About an hour later, Shane whispered that he could see a deer walking the edge of the next finger over. I never did see what he was seeing, so I hit the rattle bag again. As soon as I sat the bag down....Shane said "Shooter". I was scanning the edge of the next finger but couldn't find the buck. I asked “where?” and he surprised me with...."40 yards". I shifted to the left and was able to look around a tree that was blocking my view of the approaching buck.
As soon as I saw him, I recognized the tell tale signs that he had a radar lock on my buck decoy. His ears were pinned back and I knew the stiff legged buck would soon be lining up a downwind approach that would put him inside of 20 yards. At approx. 12 to 14 yards he paused for a moment and I zipped a Spitfire Maxx right through him. He bolted back to the spot where he had entered the field, took a moment to look back in our direction, and then started the "tippy" dance.
Large amounts of blood were pouring out of the entrance hole and I knew his ticket had been punched. He took two more steps and it was all over!!! As the buck ran away after the shot, Shane made the comment, "did you see all of those kickers on the left side?" My answer was, "no....I was looking at all of the kickers on the right side!"
Knowing the tracking job would be short, we took a few extra minutes in the stand to soak up what we had just experienced. We were then down and it was almost a sprint to get to the buck. We found him piled up just 5 yards off the edge of the field and I soon had him propped up and looking good for the camera. What a great night in the woods! I can’t imagine ever hunting again without someone in the tree with me. Whether they are running a camera or just watching, having someone there to share it makes it even more special.