Rack Report: Paul Sawyer's Illinois Stud

United States

Rack Report: Paul Sawyer's Illinois Stud

Posted 2014-12-15T08:50:00Z

Rack Report Details
Time of Year:November 23, 2014
Place:Greene County, Illinois
Weapon: Shotgun   

With the rut starting to wind down, Paul Sawyer, the Vice President of Marketing for Whitetail Properties, was looking for prime conditions to get big bucks moving.

Instead, he got a balmy, 55-degree day with a south wind while hunting with friend and Land Specialist Joe Gizdic in Greene County, Illinois.

Those aren't exactly ideal conditions, Sawyer said. But Joe had a trail camera picture of this buck from a couple of days earlier. Based on that picture, he had a good idea of what this animal was doing because he had a very good understanding of where this buck lived. The buck was seven years old, and Joe had been hunting the deer since it was five years old. The deer was living right behind Joe's house.

Despite having thousands of trailcam images of the deer, to Sawyer's knowledge, no one had actually seen the buck on the hoof, and just two of those photos were taken in daylight.

It appeared that the buck was using a timbered draw as a travel route to a bean field. Sawyer's stand was positioned along a nearby draw overlooking the area. The stand was set as such that the buck could pop out from just about anywhere - and at any time.

I knew I had to be ready because if the buck showed up, things were going to happen fast, Sawyer said.

At 4 p.m., Sawyer picked up his shotgun and got ready. Just 10 minutes later, he looked to his left and saw massive antlers working a licking branch.

As soon as I saw it, I knew it was the buck we were after, Sawyer said. I couldn't see his body at that point but I didn't need to. I knew it was him.

When Sawyer saw the deer, he stood and readied his shooting sticks. And, as so often happens when a truly big deer makes an appearance, things started to get hairy. And fast.

As soon as I stood up, I realized I wasn't going to be able to shoot standing up, Sawyer said. There wasn't an opening. So I sat back down and found a small hole to shoot through. The problem was it was a very small window of opportunity. If the buck moved just 3 yards too far, I wouldn't have a shot and the deer would start to get our wind.

Sawyer held his scope on the opening. When the buck came into view, he took the shot.

The shot felt good. I was right on the shoulder, Sawyer said. But when we reviewed the video footage, we saw the slug had hit a small twig.

The decision was made to leave the buck overnight. It was a precaution that proved unnecessary. The buck traveled just 20 yards past the point where Sawyer last saw it.

I killed by biggest buck ever on a 55-degree day in late November. It would have been very easy to just stay home and watch football, Sawyer said. But when you're hunting a buck of this caliber, anything can happen, and it did.

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