By pro baseball player, Chase Lambin
Up at 4:15 (since the clocks where moved back an hour for daylight savings time). We do the same routine; me waking Shane, making coffee and staring at him, urging him to hurry up. Shane, “Your wife must think you’re really annoying.” I usher him out to the deer cart and we are off.
Much to our chagrin, it has warmed up significantly and barely in the 40’s. I choose the “gap” stand and get settled in. The hunt wasn’t nearly as good as the first couple. I saw some deer, but they where few and far between.
After chomping some oatmeal and powdered donuts, me, Shane and Mike head north of the Mouse House, a section of land that Mike’s father owns where there’s a leaner stand. What we think will be a simple task actually takes much longer. We scout the area and argue over which tree to place the stand. We decide on a tree that had another cut corn field on one side and a deep ravine down the other side. New stand in place, we hurry back to the Mouse House, slam some hot chili and get ready for the evening hunt.
I head to the south side of the property to sit in a double leaner stand. Once again, the deer movement is much slower then days past I mainly enjoy the awesome sunset, snapping pics and drinking in the orange and red colors dancing across the vast horizon. As the sun sets behind the trees and the proper shooting light starts to fade, I hear a rustle of tree limbs about 50 yards straight in front of me. It is obviously a buck making a rub. I have a few minutes of light left if I can just get this buck to come in range. I grunt, bleat, and wheeze, pleading for him to head my way. Just as the light almost completely fades, I hear the deer’s heavy footsteps heading my way. I lift my binocs and see Mr. Wide Nine sauntering right towards me! I quickly grab my bow and get into position. I strain my eyes through the encroaching darkness. I lift my bow as the buck walks 15 yards directly in front of my stand! My body shakes as I draw back and try to find the buck through my peep sight. My heart sinks as I struggle to even see my pins. I let off my draw and lower my bow, succumbing to the reality that I didn’t have enough light to make an ethical shot on this magnificent deer. I sit back down and helplessly watch as the buck waddles right by me, making scrapes and rubs, directly below my stand. I try to fight back the frustration and discouragement. I tell myself that I have plenty of time; my luck is bound to change.
We head for the Mouse House and realize we have mowed through every morsel of food. We jump in Shane’s truck and make the 20 minute drive into the tiny town of Maquan to buy some groceries and dinner. We forget that it’s Sunday night and most every store in town is closed. The one place open is the local butcher. We drop by and through a large swinging door a grizzled old man strides in wearing a bright yellow rubber apron, big black rubber boots, a black ski cap, completely covered in blood, and holding an eight inch meat cleaver. Yikes!
His sunken in face glares at us as he questions why we are in his establishment so late. His ashen skin, boney cheeks, and steely eyes stare right through me and Shane. I back up and let Shane do the talking. Shane asks the butcher if he has any steaks to buy. He pauses, looks us both up and down and says in a deep raspy voice, “There’s a nice deer in the back.” Shane looks at me and with fear in his voice says, “Ummm…ok…let’s check it out.”
We wearily walk through the swingin’ doors and are met by a coworker who looks equally as scary. He points towards a long damp hallway. There are dead animals hanging everywhere, skins half peeled away, the smell of death is all around. We slowly creep down the wet hallway as the coworker guides us from behind. We walk through a labyrinth of halls and swinging doors until we are deep inside the death lair. (I swear I have seen this play out in the movies before.) There is one last swinging door to pass through and we would “supposedly” see the deer. (All I can picture is the butcher waiting for us behind the final door and with one swing, lopping of mine or Shane’s heads. I figure it’s a 50/50 chance whether we make it out alive.) I half close my eyes as I push open the final door. There, lying peacefully in a trashcan is the head of a monster Illinois whitetail! A fourteen pointer with split g2’s, drop tines, height, mass, width, you name it. It had to be over 180 B&C. We forget for a second that we are in a horror flick and admire the magnificent buck.
We snap a few pics make our way back through the labyrinth as fast as we can until we’re finally back to the lobby. The butcher is there to meet us with a couple rib-eyes and T-bones. We pay for the steaks and hightail out of there as quickly as possible.
After the butcher, we stop and eat at Tiffany’s, the local watering hole. Shane and I take a seat at the bar and are “greeted” by the bartender who is sporting a full sleeve of faded Harley Davidson tattoos on her arm along with other unrecognizable tats. She stares us up and down, confirming we are not from these parts, and says in an ever deeper voice then the butcher, “Whatcha want?” Shane asks for a Miller Light and she promptly hands him a Bud Light. Shane, “I don’t think they are known for their service.” We order some pretty brutal French dip sandwiches, but the food was cheap and the beer was cold, so we had nothing to complain about. We laugh and tell some more half true stories before making the drive back to camp.