Western Illinois is renowned for its whitetail hunting; Pike County itself is heralded as a sort of Whitetail Mecca.
But there are some beasts lurking a little farther north too–just ask 24-year-old Matt Ford.
Ford, a native of Abingdon, Ill., said he was late getting out to his stand on the evening of Nov. 4 with his step-father, Chance Ray, getting out to hunt at around 3:30 p.m. The duo decided to hit one of Ray’s spots closer to town, with Ford taking a stand that he said has been known in the past to be a hotspot in the rut.
He wasn’t in the stand long before this 20-point monster showed up.
“I just got in the stand and was putting my rattle pack up and grunt calls,” Ford said, adding that after only 10 minutes, he heard what sounded like antlers hitting a tree trunk. Sure enough, he turned around to see the buck of a lifetime about 60 yards away walking toward him.
“I was able to get up and turned around, and waited for him to walk in the shooting hole,” Ford said. “What seemed to be 25 yards was really 35 yards; I shot right under him.”
“When he took off, he seemed to not have much arrow in, but he went 80 yards and died,” Ford said. “Waiting on him, I was sick to my stomach thinking I didn’t get a good shot. When he took off, he pushed arrow back out and didn’t look like I was going to find him. The shot ending up being great; I got the heart and one lung.”
Then came the waiting.
“After that, I tried to call [Ray] and he had no phone on him, so I had a long sit in stand for two-and-a-half hours wondering if he was dead,” Ford said.
The wait was worth it, however, and Ford now has a trophy many hunters only dream about.
“I still can’t believe it. I thought my 145-inch 8-point was big until this,” Ford said. “I never thought I would see a deer this big, but getting to kill one this big never crossed my mind.”
Ford’s monster scored a whopping 219 1/8 inches green with 8 1/8 and 7 3/8 bases.