Illinois November - Bring On The Rut!
By: Justin Zarr

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November is finally upon us and once again my mind is focused on but one thing - the rut!  As a whitetail deer hunter in Illinois there is no better time of the year than these first two weeks in November.  It's like your birthday, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, the 4th of July, and Labor Day weekend all rolled up in the craziest two weeks of the year in the whitetail woods.  Those bucks who, 3 or 4 short weeks ago, didn't exist in your hunting woods suddenly appear from out of thin air to chase does and act like a bunch of high schoolers after a Friday night football game.  You've gotta love it!

Before I get too far ahead of myself let's rewind to the last few weeks of October.  After my successful hunt on the 19th I made the trip to Northern Wisconsin to chase big-woods bucks.  Well I'm here to tell you that it's a lot harder than it looks!  My dad and I saw several does and one small buck that decided he wanted to stand directly underneath my tree for awhile, and that was it.  I did manage to find another nice shed antler while scouting, but like an idiot I forgot to take a picture of it.  You'd think I would've learned by now!  With the lack of deer sighttings we packed it in a bit early and headed back to IL for an evening hunt on Monday the 23rd.

Unfortunately this evening was rather uneventful in the whitetail department, but I did manage to ruin the night for one certain coyote out looking for an easy meal.  Instead all he got to taste was an NAP Nitron followed by an Easton A/C Super Slim. Chalk another one up for the Bowtech - this thing is a killing machine and this year it's Coyote's: 0 - Justin: 1.

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Looks like I'm gonna need some more arrows soon!

The following weekend I was off to Wisconsin with Todd in hopes of capturing a kill on film.  Well as it turns out, Todd is a bit of a rogue hunter and can't quite handle having two guys in a tree so we ended up splitting up and going our own ways.  We both saw a lot of deer, and some good bucks at that, but no shooting was had this weekend.  Once I fill my other buck tag this weekend with a Booner I'm sure I'll be back out filming for Todd, so keep holding out hope we'll kill something on tape for you to watch!  I'll try to get a few video clips posted up tomorrow.

Back here in IL things have really been hot as the temps have been COLD!  With a bunch of nights down near 20 degrees towards the end of October the bucks were on the move.  Our CamTrakkers really got a workout the past few weeks, capturing a lot of nice bucks on film.  Hopefully I'll be able to catch up with one of them before long.

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We call this deer "The Airplane" because he's so wide.  He's really lacking in the tine length and mass department, but his spread is awesome.  I had a run-in with this guy last fall and he winded me before I could get a shot off.  This year it looks like he busted his left main beam, so he may get  pass if I see him around - we'll see how I'm feeling that day.  Good looking deer though.

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This is "MBJ".  You may recall the article entitled "One Buck, One Charmed Life" by Journal contributor Mike Willand about a buck we dubbed, cleverly enough, "Mr. Buck.".  This guy here is sporting an identical rack to Mr. Buck, but is clearly a younger deer.  Our best guess is that it is one of his offspring so I have so aptly dubbed him "Mr. Buck Jr.".  Looks like a 3 1/2 year old deer, and he'll look even better on my wall if I get a crack at him.

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A lot of hunters may pass this young 9 pointer, but not me!

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This buck is very similar to the one above, but I don't believe they are the same deer.  Clearly a 2 1/2 year old animal but again, being a "young" bowhunter I'm still looking for some more heads for the wall.  2 1/2 year old bucks are good enough for me.

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Now this is more like it!  A big, nasty, mature buck.  Great tine length - a little short in the beams, but a definite shooter.

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I love this picture.  He looks mean pawing out this scrape.

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One more shot from the back.  Not very wide, and those brows are a little short, but those G2's more than make up for it.  He's definitely a mature deer - look at that body!

The full moon this past weekend really seemed to keep deer movement to a minimum - at least where I was hunting!  In 4 trips to the stand between Friday evening and Sunday evening I saw, and got busted by, a grand total of 4 does.  That's it!  I thought this was supposed to be the rut?!?!?!?

However, my dad did manage to score on a nice 2 1/2 year old buck on the Saturday morning of November 4th.  He came into rattling with an attitude and left with a 125 grain Thunderhead through his liver.  Although the shot was a bit back, letting him lay for a few hours was the right choice as he didn't make it more than 100 yards.  An excellent blood trail led us right to this guy without much trouble at all.

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Nice job Pops!  Now its time to buy a new bow!

While we were trailing my dad's deer we came upon this awesome rub in the woods.  If sign like this doesn't get your hopes up that a 200 incher is right around the next corner, I don't know what does!  This is without question one of the biggest rubs I've ever seen in my life.  If I can manage to get my stupid Cuddeback Excite to work properly I'm gonna try setting it up near this community rub to get some pictures of the buck who's making it.  If he's as awesome as I hope, he's sure not to disappoint!

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Until next time, I hope everyone is having a safe and successful hunting season.  The rut is definitely on and the bucks are moving so use your vacation, call in sick, quit your job, and do whatever it takes to get out in the woods!

~Justin

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