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Patience Pays Off With a 6-1/2-Year-Old Illinois Booner Buck

Don Higgins has shot some fantastic whitetails in his 35 seasons of bowhunting, but none quite like the one he arrowed last month. While the Illinois expert has shot bigger deer, he knew his 2012 trophy better than any other. The monster whitetail lived nearly its entire life on Higgins’ farm, and the gross B&C whitetail was highly visible.

“Through trail cams, scouting observations, and hunting, I’ve been able to watch some pretty nice bucks,” he says, “but I had more history with this one than any I’ve ever known.”

Higgins owns 120 acres split in two sections, and leases a parcel in between. He says he hunts “about a 300-acre piece of ground” that’s a combination of timber, switchgrass and CRP, a small creek bottom, and some crop fields.

“Over the course of five years, I saw buck countless times, and I only caught him off that 300-acre parcel once. I was driving my truck and spotted him chasing a doe onto the neighboring property. He saw my truck and ran right back onto my property,” he says.

Higgins first noticed the buck when it was 2 1/2 years old.

“I got him on trail cam that year, and I knew he was a buck with a lot of potential,” he says. “It was odd; he came along at a point in my hunting life where I’d decided to raise the bar for myself. Up to that point, I figured if a buck was 4 1/2 years old, he was big enough to shoot. But that fall, I’d made up my mind to let them get a little older. I love the challenge of hunting a really old, smart, buck. And some whitetails just don’t reach their potential until they’re 5 1/2 or older.”

In this first trail cam photo from 2008, the young buck had a beautiful 5-point left side. And on its right, exhibited an antler trait that would help Higgins identify him for the next several seasons.

“He had a forked G2 on the right side, and he carried that fork in each of the next seasons, though it would alternate sides from year to year,” he says. “Although, oddly enough, when I killed him this fall, he’d gone to a clean 6x6. Usually a buck will grow more junk the older he gets, but this one cleaned up.”

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from bounty1 wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Nothing of much interest here.

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from KC122012 wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

What a beautiful buck!!! I've just recently shot a 12 pointer that i have had on trail camera the past 2 years. i just wish he would have had a little more width. I know that if i passed him for the third time that day that my neighbor would have killed him in gun season. Do you think i should have let him go?

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from MRtrader wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Sorry for the multiple postings. This website has some serious problems with its technology!

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from Matt Herbert wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

I hunt for the sport, I don't throw the meat away but I also don't spend all this time and money on $100 worth of venison. I'd like to see a case (in the US) where hunting for meat is a worthy investment. We all have our own version of ethical hunting practices...try not to judge everyone else by your own standards. Hunters vs Anti-Hunters and Poachers...not hunters vs hunters.

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from joejv4 wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

$88 for NY Sportsman license + Turkey + Muzzleloader + Doe permits (makes it legal to take 1 buck, 1 -either sex during muzzleloader, and this year, I have 4 doe permits (that is 6 deer for my investment so far - and I butcher them myself). I can take up to 4 turkeys (2 either sex in the fall, 2 toms in the spring). Squirrels and rabbits - as many as I feel like.
$15 for Federal Waterfowl stamp - up to 3 Canadas or 25 Snow geese/day during open season.

Part of that Sportsman license is a fishing license... Filling the freezer with perch, crappie, lake O browns and salmon. (have you checked the price of salmon and trout at the supermarket seafood counter lately?)

So... yes, If I were able to hunt and fish as often as I'd like each season, I would be able to put over well $1000 of meat away each year.

As it is, work and other commitments limit my time for hunting and fishing, so I only manage to put $400-$500 worth of meat away each year.

So, for me, here in Upstate NY, hunting/fishing for meat is indeed a worthy investment.

To counter your statement, perhaps those who only hunt for sport and trophies, are an indication of people with too much free time and disposable income.

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from bounty1 wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Nothing of much interest here.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from KC122012 wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

What a beautiful buck!!! I've just recently shot a 12 pointer that i have had on trail camera the past 2 years. i just wish he would have had a little more width. I know that if i passed him for the third time that day that my neighbor would have killed him in gun season. Do you think i should have let him go?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MRtrader wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Sorry for the multiple postings. This website has some serious problems with its technology!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Matt Herbert wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

I hunt for the sport, I don't throw the meat away but I also don't spend all this time and money on $100 worth of venison. I'd like to see a case (in the US) where hunting for meat is a worthy investment. We all have our own version of ethical hunting practices...try not to judge everyone else by your own standards. Hunters vs Anti-Hunters and Poachers...not hunters vs hunters.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from joejv4 wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

$88 for NY Sportsman license + Turkey + Muzzleloader + Doe permits (makes it legal to take 1 buck, 1 -either sex during muzzleloader, and this year, I have 4 doe permits (that is 6 deer for my investment so far - and I butcher them myself). I can take up to 4 turkeys (2 either sex in the fall, 2 toms in the spring). Squirrels and rabbits - as many as I feel like.
$15 for Federal Waterfowl stamp - up to 3 Canadas or 25 Snow geese/day during open season.

Part of that Sportsman license is a fishing license... Filling the freezer with perch, crappie, lake O browns and salmon. (have you checked the price of salmon and trout at the supermarket seafood counter lately?)

So... yes, If I were able to hunt and fish as often as I'd like each season, I would be able to put over well $1000 of meat away each year.

As it is, work and other commitments limit my time for hunting and fishing, so I only manage to put $400-$500 worth of meat away each year.

So, for me, here in Upstate NY, hunting/fishing for meat is indeed a worthy investment.

To counter your statement, perhaps those who only hunt for sport and trophies, are an indication of people with too much free time and disposable income.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment