Skip to main content

Late Arrival Results in Illinois Public-Land Trophy

When it comes to deer hunting, sometimes the best outcome can occur when you least expect it.

Late Arrival Results in Illinois Public-Land Trophy
Lee Heise’s 2017 public-land trophy fell within 30 yards of the hunter’s parking spot in southern Illinois. The bowhunter only set up there because he was running late. He decided to try a new spot he’d previously identified on an aerial photo. (Photo courtesy of Lee Heise)

What do shooting a mature public-land buck and a pair of tennis shoes have in common? Listen up and you’ll hear a story of how a bungled hunt turned out to be a success because of these seemingly unrelated elements.

Lee Heise is a serious bowhunter from Perryville, Missouri. Dissatisfied with the quality of deer hunting in that part of his home state, he decided to start looking at public hunting lands on the other side of the mighty Mississippi River. He discovered some areas with good bucks in southern Illinois, but he also found intense pressure on those properties.

“The hunting pressure is extreme,” Lee states. “The farther I would walk into public land, it seemed like the more the hunting pressure would ramp up. If you hunted seven days in these areas, I’ll bet someone would walk in on your hunt during five of those days. I wanted to quit.”

Good thing he didn’t. He soon learned to “think outside the box” by looking at small areas other hunters might overlook.


“I have been seeing more deer since I got away from the areas that attract hunters,” he notes. “Over time, I found some new spots — and some pretty good ones.”


Lee would glass areas in the evenings and scout on foot. Over time, he began turning up some decent bucks and learning more about how these bucks related to the public properties and the pressure. It was to one of the areas where he’d seen some decent bucks that he was headed in the predawn darkness of Nov. 14, 2017.

Lee had just concluded the 70-minute drive to his chosen hunting location when he stepped out of the truck in the dark and realized he’d forgotten something important: his hunting boots. Not willing to hunt all day in his sneakers, he decided he had no choice but to drive all the way home to retrieve his boots. It wasn’t exactly a great start to a day in the rut.

When the bowhunter finally arrived back at his hunting site it was full daylight, and he felt he needed to make a change in plans.

“I hang and hunt a lot,” he says. “So I decided to go to another spot only 80 yards from the road and put up my Lone Wolf stand.”


Lee had previously looked over this area on aerial photos and had liked what he’d seen. Plus, with optics he’d identified some shooter bucks in his long-distance scouting. There was a swamp nearby, along with a cut corn field, thick briars and cattails. In short, it looked like a place in which a good buck would live, and nearby was an area that looked like doe bedding cover. With all those positives present, the bowhunter decided to make the plunge.

When Lee got back off the road he began to see deer trails and a high spot that looked good to him, so he picked out a tree and went to work putting up his portable tree stand.

In short order, he saw he was absolutely right about the location being doe bedding cover.


“I had does all around me as I was setting up,” Lee says. “There were goose hunters out in the cut corn field, and I could hear them calling, talking and even shooting, but the does ignored them. They were not bothered by the sounds of cars travelling the road only 80 yards away.”

Lee had been on stand for about two hours when he heard a loud, deep grunt that sounded almost like a growl. He wasn’t even sure what he’d just heard was a buck . . . until he looked in that direction and saw a doe walking his way with a big buck following her. The doe walked by on a trail only 10 yards from his stand, and at that moment the bowhunter knew he was likely to get a chip shot at the big 10-pointer.

But as so often happens, the buck changed his course. Instead of passing broadside, he came right to the base of Lee’s tree. That obviously was far from ideal.

“He started working a scrape and licking branch on the tree I was in,” Lee recalls. “I was only 15 feet high, but he didn’t see me, even though he was looking right up at me when he worked the branch. I didn’t have a shot!”

Rather than try to find a way to get an arrow into the buck, Lee patiently waited. Finally, as the doe walked off, the buck turned to follow her. This presented the bowhunter with a nearly straight-down, quartering-away shot, and he made the most of it.

“The deer ran right toward my truck and disappeared from sight,” Lee remembers. “I waited 30 minutes before getting down, and then I decided to go to my truck before following the blood trail. When I got to the road, as I stood by my truck I looked back toward the stand — and there he was, lying dead only 30 yards from me.”

It was Lee’s first public-land buck in Illinois and a really good one for public property anywhere, with a net Pope & Young score of 143 5/8 typical.

“It was the first time I had ever laid eyes on that deer,” the bowhunter says. “But I had seen some others, so I knew there were good bucks in the area.”

So Lee Heise’s strategy of doing the things other local bowhunters weren’t doing, and hunting a place they’d overlooked, paid off handsomely last season. A punched nonresident either-sex tag provided clear evidence of that.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Gear Wise: All About Trail Cameras

Gear Wise: All About Trail Cameras

Clint McCoy discusses the advancements in trail camera technology over the years and how the high-tech units available today can help you become a better deer hunter.

On Target: Tips for Handgun Hunting Accuracy

On Target: Tips for Handgun Hunting Accuracy

Dr. James Kroll provides tips for hunting whitetails with a handgun.

Gear Wise

Gear Wise

Jace Bauserman explains what bowhunters can do to ease the physical and mental rigors of being caught at full draw.

How to Control Predators on Deer Hunting Property

How to Control Predators on Deer Hunting Property

Dr. James Kroll and Pat Hogan discuss ways to help control predators on deer hunting property.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Answers to the most popular decoying questions to bring bucks your way!What You Need to Know About Decoying Bucks Hunting Strategies

What You Need to Know About Decoying Bucks

Greg Miller

Answers to the most popular decoying questions to bring bucks your way!

Fill your quiver with the right ammo this season.The Best Arrows for Deer Hunting Bowhunting

The Best Arrows for Deer Hunting

Tony J. Peterson - June 10, 2019

Fill your quiver with the right ammo this season.

Understanding what deer eat and how they adjust their diets to meet changing nutritional requirements will not only increase your chances of harvesting a good buck, but also your enjoyment of whitetail hunting.What Do Deer Eat? Land Management

What Do Deer Eat?

Dr. James C. Kroll

Understanding what deer eat and how they adjust their diets to meet changing nutritional...

Making an extreme move to another state to chase public-land bucks worked out for Jake Bush.Would You Relocate Just to Hunt Big Deer? Whitetail

Would You Relocate Just to Hunt Big Deer?

Josh Honeycutt

Making an extreme move to another state to chase public-land bucks worked out for Jake Bush.

See More Trending Articles

More Typical

 Ryan Nikkel had built a 4-year relationship with this buck.

In 2012, Ryan Nikkel started gettingRyan Nikkel Buck: 190-Inch Kansas Perfection Typical

Ryan Nikkel Buck: 190-Inch Kansas Perfection

Spencer Neuharth - December 03, 2015

Ryan Nikkel had built a 4-year relationship with this buck. In 2012, Ryan Nikkel started...

When it comes to deer hunting, sometimes the best outcome can occur when you least expect it.Late Arrival Results in Illinois Public-Land Trophy Typical

Late Arrival Results in Illinois Public-Land Trophy

Bernie Barringer

When it comes to deer hunting, sometimes the best outcome can occur when you least expect it.

Some records stand for decades at a time; others, no more than two years.

Over the past weekend,New Wisconsin Typical Archery State Record Buck Named Typical

New Wisconsin Typical Archery State Record Buck Named

Andrew Vanlaningham - December 15, 2014

Some records stand for decades at a time; others, no more than two years. Over the past...

J.T. Kreager's first-class 10-point typical from Ohio proves the point that hard work in the off-season can yield big-time results once fall arrives!A Perfect 10: 190 2/8-Inch Typical Typical

A Perfect 10: 190 2/8-Inch Typical

J.T. Kreager - May 06, 2011

J.T. Kreager's first-class 10-point typical from Ohio proves the point that hard work in the...

See More Typical

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All North American Whitetail subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now