Brandon Stichter's Illinois Trophy Buck

Brandon Stichter's Illinois Trophy Buck

The story behind this Illinois trophy buck that scored 185 5/8 inches with 16 scorable points.

I could barely see his antlers through the brush. I didn't think it was a big deer at all, but something made me grab my bow just in case. I still couldn't make out the deer, and thinking that it was one of the smaller deer on the farm, I decided to hang my bow back up. Just as I made a move to do so, I noticed that it was the "split brow buck."

He was at 25 yards. He started walking right at me, and I drew back instantly. I had to draw right then or I knew that my chance at this big buck would be over. I quickly peered through my sight and let the arrow go. I watch the arrow make a good shot, a little back, but definitely a good shot.

We decided to back out and look for him in the morning and after a long sleepless night, we were able to locate the buck only 100 yards from where I shot him. All the long hours of planting food plots, trimming stands, checking trail cameras, and monitoring our deer population finally paid off. And the best part, this was the fourth "Booner" my brother, father and self have shot on our farms in the last three years. The next one...my daughter says...is hers.

My cousin, who also hunts with my brother, my father, and myself, had a shot of a lifetime at him last year with no success. We spotted him late in the year again in 2010 but with a broken G3 and G4. Early this spring we set out to find his sheds. Nathan and a friend of ours found the right side. And, while turkey hunting for the first time with my daughter this spring, she spotted the left side and was quick to tell me that the "split brow buck" was "hers" this year.

This was her first year to deer hunt with a firearm but youth season came to a close with no opportunity for a shot. We'd had many pictures of the buck on trail cameras this year as well, but again, all during the dark. On the day of the hunt, it rained all day and stopped only briefly for a time in the late afternoon, which is the only reason we think he was up on his feet. I'd just finished watching a shooter 8 point when I heard something behind me making a scrape.

This buck was harvested on my father's ground in rural Erie, Illinois on November 3, 2011. Hunting is a family affair around here and my brother and I spend most of the off season preparing for hunts like this one.

The hunt for this particular big buck started three years ago when we began to see pictures of him on trail cameras. Last year was the first year that he really showed his size for the first time. We had several pictures from last year but each of them were under the cover of darkness. My brother, Nathan, and I spent many hours monitoring his activity.

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