-By Brandon Wikman
Last weekend I hit up Illinois for my last opportunity to kill a true Land of Lincoln giant. A nasty weather system combined with the scraps of the 2nd firearm season had me apprehensive about whether to make the journey from Wisconsin or not.
I consider myself a weekend warrior, but in college, I find myself perched in a tree, between, after and sometimes during class, often times more than I should. Time frames are tight and a day in the woods is better than a day in class. I had to convince myself of that after I heard the weather report last weekend.
Illinois was expected to get dumped with rain, sleet and ice, while its northern neighbor, Wisconsin was awaiting nearly 8 inches of snow! I packed my bags, prepared myself for the icy roads and ventured to Illinois en route to my frozen tree stand.
I arrived in Northern Illinois Friday afternoon. It took my cameraman, Joe Nawrot and I nearly 6 hours to get there. Usually the typical 3½-hour drive isn’t so overbearing, but a glassy layer of ice underneath an icing of caked snow sure made things rough on my two-wheel drive vehicle.
Watching the icy rain pour, I shook my head in disgust and forced my frozen body toward my tree stand. There wasn't a deer to be seen.
Saturday was supposed to be better, according to the weatherman, but it wasn’t. The rain never quit all day. It rained so hard that we couldn’t even bring the camera out. Once a video camera mixes with moisture, your camera becomes worthless.
There is no worse feeling than anticipating a hunt, and not being able to go out Because of extreme weather conditions or other variables. It became so rough we figured we’d leave Sunday afternoon to save us misery, a cold, heck maybe even a potential car accident.
Sunday was sporadic. It rained off-and-on just enough for us to have confidence to hunt that afternoon. I was sure glad I did because what happened was one of the most random things I’ve ever experienced!
Joe and I sat in the local café at noon, watching cars slip-and-slide through the intersection. We just looked at each other in disgust and gobbled up the one thing that did make us happy, Belgian Waffles. I told Joe we needed to get in our stand by 2 o’clock, before we got blasted with sleet. He shrugged his shoulders and gave me the, ‘whatever you say nod.’
At 1:45 p.m. I entered the frosty woods with my muzzleloader over my shoulder. As I approached my tree stand I jumped a deer. All I saw were antlers dodging through the brush and briar thickets. I raised my gun and tried to spot the buck in my scope. As some wild and crazy luck would have it, I grabbed my deer grunt and blew as loudly as I could. I can guarantee it didn’t sound like a deer, but he stopped less than one hundred yards away and tossed his head back to figure out what we were. At that point I nestled my crosshairs into his shoulder and busted him.
Against all odds and luck, I had to be one of the luckiest hunters in Illinois last Sunday. The old saying, “I’d rather be lucky than good,” really sums it up. If anything else, banking your time in the woods has its rewards and this is just another prime example of it!