Well, it was opening day (Oct. 1st) for Illinois, and everything was going according to plan! Kyle and I hunted that morning and saw a 140" 10 point working a bean field until 830 into the morning. We guessed him to be the same deer we were getting daylight pics of on our Reconyx cameras largely because of his bleach white rack. He quickly became public enemy #1 due to his risky movements. We watched the deer enter into the northern side of the same block of timber we were sitting. We made a quick decision to "Turkey Hunt" this deer and try to put him to bed. We knew that the evening may produce a repeat occurrence, so we decided to hang a set in hopes to catch the daylight mover on his way back out to the bean field.
We crawled into our new set and I had just finished hanging my bow up when Kyle said "there he is", and sure enough he was on his way out to stage up before dusk. So much so, that the big boy decided to bed down in some CRP about 40 yards from our set. One problem, once he sat down in the grass, no shots were available. So it became a waiting game. As sunset rapidly approached our opening day dream was about to become reality. We watched him stand up and offer the only shot he was going to give us. At 40 yds., I picked a spot just above a piece of grass in front of him and let the arrow fly. The deer quickly lifted his head and started his turn when my 2-blade Rage found its mark, however, the penetration of the arrow wasn't much to be desired. I felt I hit the front shoulder and was immediately questioning whether or not we would find the buck considering we watched him saunter away. However, Kyle still felt strongly that I might have hit high off shoulder.
Well, fast forward to a below-average blood trail, a crazy un-trained blood dog, and 6 hours of diligent grid walking and we were staring at Buck Sadness. However, each haunting day that passed our most visible buck never crossed the path of one of our numerous Reconyx cameras. This was our best clue that quite possibly I had killed the buck. Kyle proved his theory correct when we were shed hunting on Feb. 19th and found my buck 20 yards from where we had ended our grid search through the thick briars and autumn olive. I can officially say I owe my partner big time on this one and am thankful that he stumbled across his final bed in the middle of a timber thicket. After some crucial phone calls to the IDNR I was able to claim my harvest. Not exactly how I envisioned laying my hands on this deer, but it is one I will humbly accept…Bittersweet moment to say the least! Below I have posted steps to help you if you run into this situation shed hunting.
STEPS FOR TAGGING A LOST DEER, or DISCOVERING A DEAD DEER
1) Leave carcass/remains in tact at location discovered, if possible take a picture of this undisturbed setting, as this will quicken your overall tagging process
2) Call the State Police; they will put you in contact with the appropriate Conservation Office or Officer in your region/If possible Fill out Salvage Tag or Road Kill Form online provided by your state's DNR
3) Meet with or formally speak with your local Conservation Officer to discuss proper protocol for your state, and also to receive a Salvage Tag if necessary. In Illinois, more than likely this will be the case.
4) Receive Salvage tag issued by your state, and claim your deer
5) This would be the correct process for a road kill or skull find as well, whether you shot the deer or not.
6) Enjoy the Confidence of maintaining the integrity of your state's conservation, as they are always looking in the best interest of the animal.