Through the years I have added new things that sometimes work out and sometimes don’t. Years ago purchasing a set of walkie talkies seemed a good idea, but with the expanding coverage of cellphones are devices I rarely carry in my pack anymore. Given the current economy I’m not much of a gambler and really don’t have the money to spend on nonessential hunting technology. However, with a local outfitting store advertising a mid-range GPS for fewer than 100 dollars I decided to give it a try.
I researched and marked some areas in the Shawnee National Forest on my computers topo map and downloaded them into my GPS unit. I then used the GPS unit to scout these areas out just prior to the 2011 firearm opener.
As I approached one of the saddle areas that looked good on the map, a nice looking 8-pointer came trotting down the hill from me. He was not alerted to my presence and at an estimated 3.5 years of age and over 200 pounds he was a shooter for me. I looked around and placed my stand about 60 yards up the hill from the game trail the buck was using. I marked the tree with my GPS unit and left immediately as to avoid leaving too much human scent in the area.
The morning of the hunt I had elected to bring my muzzleloader. The 2 mile hike in the dark to my climbing tree stand wasn’t going to be easy as there were several steep hills and the unkempt trail would only take me half way. I would have to rely on my GPS unit to take me the final ¾ mile. At one point I got turned around and thought the GPS was wrong and started going down the wrong ridge. After 50 yards I changed my mind and followed the GPS. Sure enough it took me right to my tree stand.
I got set just as the sun started peeking over the eastern hill. At 8:35 am I could not believe my eyes as the same 8-pointer was traveling down the same game trail. I waited for the buck to hit the 60 yard mark and as soon as he did I had a standing broadside 60 yard shot.
The shockwave flew true and as I would find out later went right through the heart. The buck only ran about 50 yards before falling into a dry creek bed. He may not be one of the massive antlered bucks Illinois is known for, but for public ground hunting I was tickled to harvest him. It took my dad and I over 3 hours to drag him back to camp, but was well worth the effort.