I am sitting here anxiously waiting for the first mushrooms to pop here in Central Illinois. I have seen a couple of posts about some small greys popping just south of us but unfortunately, the ground temperature at 4 inches is still only 44 degrees as of April 16th. Most years this would be my first weekend to hit the woods, but I think I will be waiting until the end of April to start walking the timber.
I attended my last show of the year in early April. The Illinois Deer & Turkey Classic was held at the Peoria Civic Center. It was nice attending a sport show I didn’t have to get a hotel room for. The show promoter did a great job of getting the vendors to the show. It’s not easy having two years off and still providing a robust show for the attendees. The crowd was good throughout the weekend and there were a lot of vendors that I haven’t seen at other sport shows. There are several new deer stand companies and it was nice to see their product and get to meet them in person.
It was great seeing a lot of my old friends in the event business. That is the one point I definitely miss from my old job is the people. I made so many good friends in the event industry and it amazes me how many have had to move on and just how much the event business has changed. As I walked into the Peoria Civic Center, I saw some friends that I haven’t seen in five or six years. Some of which have worked at the civic center for over 20 years. I didn’t know what to expect when I walked in the door, but I was pleasantly surprised there were still several old friends working the show.
Unfortunately, I haven’t had many great adventures in the last month. It seems I have been busy with family obligations and the weather just has not cooperated for fishing or mushrooms. That should all change very soon.
At the end of March, I was able to get away for a weekend in Missouri to do some shed hunting. As I have talked about in past articles I have fallen in love with Missouri and this one particular property. I have now been invited back several times and each time I cherish the opportunity. This property consists of 700 acres and last fall we saw some monster bucks. Since our final hunt in early December, I have been waiting for the opportunity to do some shed hunting and put up some cameras.
We headed to Missouri on a Friday evening. We arrived right as it was getting dark and a quick glance towards the field, I could see a small group of deer eating in the corn field. The plan for Saturday was to start there and work most of the woods that is on this property. As Saturday morning approached, we awoke to a beautiful sunny morning with temps near 50 degrees. Absolutely perfect weather to be walking in the woods. We set our sights on the first set of timber and off we went. After walking for a couple of hours I was getting a little frustrated. We had so many great areas for bedding I thought it was going to be easy to find some monster sheds. I was wrong. As we finished walking the last remaining part of this draw, I look up and I could see Marc carrying and antler. We had finally broken the ice. As I was heading back to the four-wheeler, I was going to cross a creek, but I decided to just walk down a ways and cross it at the road. As I was nearing the road, I could see a white tip peaking out of the switchgrass. Low and behold it was my first shed of the day.
We continued onto several different areas that day and we found a couple here and there but nothing like I thought we would find. As many big bucks as we saw on cameras and during our days hunting, I thought we would find the motherload. That was not the case and about three o’clock in the afternoon I looked at Marc and said “the fat guys got to eat soon”. We walked for about seven hours that first day and boy were my legs feeling it. So much so, I was wondering how walking was going to go on Sunday.
We finished up the last little section of woods for the day and headed to town for some lunch. After finishing lunch, we were headed back to the farm to shoot our crossbows.
I have been thinking about getting a new crossbow for a couple of years. I have an old Killer Instinct Crossbow that has served me well over that last several years, but I really wanted a new one.
Marc purchased a nice Ten Point Siege Crossbow a few months back and had been shooting it off and on for a few weeks. He would send me pictures of his shots and I was amazed at how accurate it really was. The siege was a little more expensive than what I wanted to spend on a crossbow, so I continued to do my research on what the best crossbow for the money was. I determined that I wanted a Ten Point RDX 400. This is reverse draw crossbow, and it has almost the same speed as the more expensive crossbows, but it had better kinetic energy than all but a couple of the bows on the market. I was determined this was the one I wanted.
I searched for a couple of months trying to find the best deal and unfortunately there wasn’t many for sale and if they were they were used and wanted new prices. I waited and waited until I found one at the sport show at a great price. I spent a couple of hours in the Ten Point booth at the Indiana Deer Turkey and Waterfowl Expo making sure this is the bow I wanted. After that, I went right over to where I saw the bow and the negotiation began. In the end I paid a couple of hundred dollars less than I saw it anywhere else.
I was excited to sight in the bow. I really hadn’t shot any other crossbows at this point, so I wanted to see how accurate and fast it really was. Marc and I set up the target and before I knew it we had been shooting for two hours. I would have never done that with the Killer Instinct. It becomes to much of a pain to pull it back each time but with the new Ten Point with a crank it made it so much more enjoyable. After shooting it for some time I really had it pretty close, but I didn’t feel like it was as accurate as I would have liked. Marc looked at me and said I should try this other higher end scope to see if it made a difference. By this time, it was too dark so we figured after we get done shed hunting on Sunday, we would put a few more bolts through it before we headed for home.
Sunday morning rolled around, and we set out to explore the rest of the property. We headed to where we left off and started walking the timber. Not long after we started walking, we ran into what I believe was an old root cellar. The only thing is this property was purchased back in the 1970’s and the road was nearly a mile away in both directions. We looked around for any sign there was an old house or anything that would make sense why this was in the middle of the woods. We never found any indication of an old farmstead or anything. With the trees growing around it I would assume this had to be nearly 100 years old. I took a photo to show you all so take a look and maybe I am wrong. Maybe it served another purpose just not sure what it would have been and why is was so far from any road or homestead. One thing is for sure your you never know what you will find on a hike in the woods.
As we continued our walk up and down the hills, through the creeks up and down to get to the river I wasn’t finding anything but squirrels. At one point I saw eight squirrels playing so I walked over to where they were to check out the area. To my surprise the squirrels just kept playing so I sat down to take a break and enjoy god’s work. As I was sitting there, they just kept getting closer and closer. At one point I had several of them within a few feet of me with not a care in the world. Then what I assumed was momma come out of a tree I was leaning against and started raising all kinds of ruckus. As soon as she started barking, the little ones took off like a bat out of hell. They must of played in front of me for ten minutes or more but once momma said danger they were gone. See, even baby squirrels are scared of their mom when mommas mad.
After the momma squirrel told me to leave, I headed towards an area that I thought my deer from last fall went. I wanted to search the area yet one more time to see if there was a chance he was laying in a creek or ditch, and we just didn’t see him. After walking this stretch of timber all way back to the river I knew my deer from last fall must have lived or made it a long way before passing. You would think after six months I would give up on that buck but every chance I have had to look I have.
As I cut back across the field, I would see Marc looked to have his hands full. As I got closer, I could see he had a couple of sheds and a couple of dead heads. He found all of them within 100 yards of each other and the dead heads looked to be at least three or more years old. The one he found had absolute giant bases and would have been a great deer to harvest. I would assume they both died from disease as it looks liked they died in velvet. Unfortunately, that probably means they passed in late summer from EHD. We had covered almost all of the woods on this farm and driven some of the fields but there was one spot left. It was all the way to the back of the property, and this was where Marc and I had been hunting last fall. We walked the timber, and I did find a couple of old chewed up antlers but nothing to write home about. After finishing with the last set of woods I have one more location I had to check. I watched the deer I shot last fall could out of finger in a bean field. I wanted to walk over to this to see if I could find a shed or anything that would tell me that the buck, I shot was still alive. As I arrived and walked this little finger you could see that a deer had been living in there. The whole area was matted down and as I walked through the middle, I saw a set of tines sticking up out of a grass patch. Low and behold another dead head that was several years old. I was relived is wasn’t the deer I shot because it would have meant I walked right by it multiple times. It wasn’t so we decided it was time to call of our shed hunting weekend and go back to the house to shoot the crossbows.
Once back to the house I grabbed my crossbow with the new scope attached and set out to get this bow sighted in. Marc was still in the house, so I set up the table and took my first shot. It was only a few inches off, so I made some corrections and put in the next arrow. As I pulled the trigger the bow exploded. The limb on the left side came flying out and the string broke. My heart sank into my stomach. What the heck just happened? I really had no idea. It was Sunday so I figured I would have to wait until Monday to call Ten Point and see what they said.
After a long trip back home all I could think about is I am going to out all of this money if they don’t honor the warranty. First thing when their customer service opened, I called to tell them what happened. As soon as I told them, they said “you dry fired it.” I immediately said “no it has a dry fire mechanism so that can’t happen, and my arrow flew about 15 feet so there was no way of a dry fire.” They stated to me that you must not have had the arrow seated correctly. I have shot a crossbow for six or seven years now and never had that problem. They proceeded to tell me that it would not be warrantied and the only thing I could do is go to an authorized dealer and have them examine and it and pay for the fixes. To say I was disappointed was an understatement. I loaded up the bow and took it to the dealer and they basically told me the limbs and cam look ok but they wouldn’t know until they put it under pressure. I waited for a couple of weeks and the call came in. They stated I got lucky, and the only thing damaged on the bow was the string. So, $160 later I had my bow back. All I can say is make sure you seat that arrow because if you don’t, you will be replacing the bow or paying a huge chunk of change to get it fixed. I figure if the limbs and cams were broke you might as well buy a new bow. The cost to fix it probably wouldn’t be worth it. As a matter of fact, I was talking to the dealer, and he said he had over 30 bows last fall that all came in with this same problem. One was a $2,500 bow and on his second shot it blew up and the guy was out all of his money. I can’t imagine spending that kind of money on a bow and only shooting it twice. So be careful out there so you don’t have the same issue.
The last thing for this month is to send out a happy belated birthday to my grandpa Lyle Courtney. He turned 98 on April 12th and we celebrated with him and our family with his favorite KFC and some delicious desserts.
Until next month. May your sunrises and sunsets be magical!