Editor's Note: Phillip Vanderpool of Harrison, Arkansas, a Hunter's Specialties' pro, lives in the woods. During deer season, he travels many states and probably logs as many if not more hours hunting deer than most of us will in three lifetimes. Phillip is not just learning, he's a student of deer. He knows how to make the right moves and when to not only get a shot with his bow, but for his cameraman to record all of his adventures for Hunter's Specialties' videos.
The first day or two in Illinois, we were seeing a few small bucks, but we never did see a shooter. So, we changed areas and moved down along the Mississippi River. My outfitter turned me loose on the property and said, "Phillip, go find the buck you want to take."
I hunt with a Delta Deer Decoy, a Heavy Horns Rattling Bag, the True Talker and the Ezee Wheeze Call. I like to try and make deer come to me rather than betting on deer coming by my stand. In two days, I rattled up 13 bucks, however, none of them were shooters. These bucks were from 1-1/2-years old up to bucks that would score 135 on the Boone & Crockett scale.
I got real excited when I saw a really nice buck coming in and thought he was a buck I wanted to take. He had 6 points on one side that were beautiful. But, as I looked closer, I saw that the other half of his rack was broken off. All he had was an eye guard and a G2 point. I was about to cry, because if that buck had had the antlers he'd before they were broken off, he would have probably scored much better than 135 on B&C. This buck came in, pawed-around on the ground where the decoy was and finally left.
When we got out of our tree stand, I went to get our decoy and started looking at the picked corn field where I'd set up the decoy. Just past the decoy, I could see where the ground was all pawed-up like there'd been a major big buck fight. I told Barry Greenhaw there had been a big buck fight here. And as we were looking at the ground, I found the other half of the rack off the busted rack buck that we'd seen. That was the last day I could hunt this property in Illinois because I was leaving to film David and Carman Forbes' 9-year-old granddaughter, Morgan, and her dad Tony on Morgan's first hunt.
After that hunt, I had two days left in Illinois's bow season before gun season started. So Barry and I jumped in the car and drove back to Illinois, got in the same tree stand we'd been hunting from earlier and put out our Delta Deer Decoy. On the last morning of Illinois's bow season, I had been rattling and grunting to call in a deer and had seen nothing. Finally at 9 am, my friend Barry Greenhaw was zooming his camera out to photograph some birds on a limb riding a 20- to 30-mph wind. All of a sudden, Barry said, "I see antlers."
I looked at the birds where Barry was looking and spotted a big 8-point buck standing in the brush. I could tell that this buck had heard me rattling with my Heavy Horns Rattling Bag and grunting with my True Talker. He was studying the field, but he hadn't seen my decoy yet. I grunted again really hard at the deer. The buck turned and made eye contact with the decoy. As soon as he saw that decoy, the decoy had his full attention, just like a big bass locks-in on a lure just before the fish hits it.
The big buck started walking toward the decoy and then he heard something. He looked back over his shoulder and spotted a smaller buck behind him. With the buck's attention on the other buck and not on my decoy, I used the Ezee Wheeze to snort/wheeze at the big buck. The 8-point buck snapped his head around, looked at the decoy and bristled-up like a turkey in full strut. He started that stiff-legged walk with his ears laid back in a very aggressive posture that bucks sometimes do before they go on a full-blown charge. He walked right up to the face of my decoy and tickled the antlers of the decoy. Then he hit that decoy so hard and violently he knocked the decoy 10 feet in the air and broke the stakes off that were supporting the decoy and the antlers off the decoy. When the decoy took to the air, the buck jumped back, startled, and started to turn away. However, I grunted at him with a True Talker and stopped him. Then I had to tiptoe over a limb to be able to get my bow back to full draw to get off a shot. When I released the arrow, I saw it hit and knew I had a double-lung hit. We saw the buck run, stumble and fall and drop on the camera.
The shot was only a 17- or 18-yard bow shot, and my Mathews Drenalin bow pushing a 100 grain G5 Striker Broadhead with a Carbon Express Maximum Hunter Shaft did what it was designed to do. Now, the people who don't believe that Heavy Horns Rattling Bag, Ezee Wheeze, the True Talker and a Delta decoy can make a difference in their hunts really need to watch the Hunter's Specialties "Primetime Bucks" videos. On those videos, you can see our ability to call bucks, control bucks and get bucks to stop so we can get off our shots are all due to the calls, the scents and lures, the Scent-A-Way scent elimination system and the decoys we use. Seeing is believing, and you can see this hunt on next year's video.