Illinois Brute

Posted on December 10, 2013


The author and his bomber Illinois non-typical, which offered a hunting experience he'll never forget.

The author and his bomber Illinois non-typical, which offered a hunting experience he’ll never forget.


After many ups and downs, this bowhunter finally gets his crack at a true one-of-a-kind monster buck. 

Story and photos by Matt Frane

It all started in August when my friend Jack was riding his four-wheeler out behind his property when, all of a sudden, a buck jumped up right in front of him. His antlers were tall, thick and full of velvet, and they just kept looking bigger and bigger as Jack continued to ride and look in amazement.

In the coming weeks, he began putting up some trail cameras to try and capture the buck’s whereabouts and movement pattern. He couldn’t get a clear close up of the buck, but he did manage to get a photo showing the buck in the distance, his rack still growing like crazy.

He eventually showed the photo to me and man did I get excited. I told him I had to get out there with him and hopefully hunt the massive buck. It took a little convincing but he was nice enough to let me on his property that following season.

Luck Strikes

Once the season started, we began hunting pretty hard. We experienced many days of just seeing spikes, does, and young six-pointers. We hadn’t caught sight of any big bucks, particularly the one we were hunting.

Then, one Monday after we were leaving our tree stands after a morning hunt, Jack and I met up and began walking down along this cut cornfield. We came to a big oak tree and I said to him, “I think one of us should set up in this tree along the field where the buck jumped up and ran in front of you while you were riding the ATV.”

Then, without notice, I saw what I couldn’t believe: A massive buck was walking our way. I whispered excitedly, “Jack, there is a big buck coming… grab your bow now!”

As he went to grab his bow, I ran to grab mine and then I ran to try and cut off the buck at the other end of the field. Sprinting through the tall grass, I fell on my face not looking where I was running as I was trying to track the deer’s movements. As I did this, again, I couldn’t believe my eyes: The buck casually slowed to a walk and then he just laid down right in the middle of the field!

Perfect...I thought. This is it! I was about 60 yards away so I needed to sneak in a little closer, at least to about 40 yards in order to get a good shot. As I approached, he got up and was gone. I was definitely bummed, but at least I had a close call—and it wasn’t the bomber buck we were hunting.

This buck had tremendous mass and character, with lots of stickers and two drop points.

This buck had tremendous mass and character, with lots of stickers and two drop points.

Waiting for Action

A few weeks later we were out hunting again. We had a mild south wind that day with a temperature of about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Perfect hunting conditions.

Jack and I were about 60 yards apart in the oaks north of the corn field at the bottom of a little draw. So far this season, the deer seemed to head south to north through the corn and then they would pop out into the woods.

It was about 2:00 p.m. when we got on the stand. I was sitting about 25 feet up in this hard, noisy shagbark hickory with my back to the south and shooting lanes to my east and west. It wasn’t but an hour into the hunt when I heard a loud crash through the woods.

I looked to my right and noticed a small six-pointer running with an arrow in him! My adrenaline was rushing now from all the noise and movement. Alright! Jack got one!

As I waited to get down, all sounds began to die off. But then, about 30 minutes later, I heard crunching leaves to my left and, at about 10 feet away, I see this buck with his nose to the ground and tree trunks coming out of the top of his head!

My heart was suddenly in my throat and I began to quiver almost uncontrollably. Moments later, he swiveled his head slowly and then stared right up at me… his eyes boring holes in my buck-fever shaking body.

Then, I hear a loud buck grunt…which I’m pretty sure from Jack, who is set up in his stand about 60 yards behind me. The buck quickly looks away.

Now I debate—do I stand up in this squeaky climber or do I just draw back from my seat? Do I wait for him to turn away or do I just shoot? As Jack continues to grunt, the buck seems to lose interest in it and in me. He puts his nose back to the ground, and I make my move to shoot.

The stand squeaks, but I continue to draw my bow. I aim as well as I could under the circumstances, and a split second later, the bow recoils and I hear the arrow’s impact.

The buck jumps once the arrow hits and then races away to a nearby tree. Then, unbelievably, he starts rubbing it. Then he slowly begins to wobble and crashes to the floor. I can’t believe it. I just shot the buck of a lifetime!

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