USA -(Ammoland.com)- Robert Cardin from Theodore, Alabama, never believed he wouldn’t be able to call his uncle, David Burleson, and tell him about his hunt with Western Illinois Trophy Outfitters (WITO).
Cardin decided to book a hunt with this outfitter after getting a report from a friend-of-a-friend about the quality of the deer herd on the properties that WITO hunted, and after talking with Hunter Still, the owner of WITO. Robert’s Uncle David had taken Robert hunting with him ever since he could walk.
After every hunt, Cardin called Uncle David and gave him a report of his hunt.
However, the week before Cardin was to leave on this hunt of a lifetime, Uncle David, who was in his early 50s, passed away after a massive heart attack. Two days after the funeral Cardin drove from Alabama with a heavy heart to Lima, Illinois.
“The weather was brutal, never climbing above 14 degrees,” Cardin recalls. “The first 2 days the wind blew at about 20 to 25 mph.” Still, Cardin saw bucks every day of his hunt. “I passed on a buck that I believed would score about 150 points, but the buck looked to be only about 2-years old,” Cardin says. “One of the other hunters took this buck that scored more than 160 points.”
On Saturday night before the last day of his hunt, Cardin stayed up late, playing cards with his friends. He skipped the morning hunt. He arrived at his stand around 10:30 am, put on his safety harness and a Heater Body Suit and went up to his lock-on tree stand in a small bottom that was a drainage ditch between two grown-up CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) fields.
The weather had broken with the wind dying to about 15 mph, and the afternoon temperature reached 21 degrees. Cardin was warm yet bored because he hadn’t seen any deer.
At 3 pm, his luck changed. Cardin heard a deer grunt about 200 yards behind him on the right. Then just before 4:00 pm, he heard a deer blow.
“I’m from Alabama where only does blow at you when they pick up your scent,” Cardin explains. “A few minutes later, I heard the deer blow again.” On this last day of his hunt and with a doe tag too, Cardin turned around to see the doe blowing. However, he spotted one of the biggest bucks he ever had seen in his life with a head full of antlers and a big body. He was definitely a shooter. The big buck was only about 50 yards away, coming in from behind Cardin. He saw Cardin, silhouetted in the tree, in his tree stand. The buck wasn’t supposed to come from that direction and came downwind of Cardin. Cardin hoped the deer didn’t smell him, since he’d sprayed down with Scent Killer Gold.
“The buck was looking straight at me,” Cardin remembers. “A tree was blocking his face, his chest and his stomach. I slowly turned to face the buck that was blowing and stomping his feet. Mentally, I said to the deer in my mind, ‘I need you to look away from me, so I can move my rifle.’ The deer turned and looked in the direction he’d come.” Once Cardin got his rifle halfway to his shoulder, the buck spotted him and blew again. Cardin believed the buck was about to be gone. Then the buck looked in the opposite direction, allowing Cardin to bring his Thompson/Center Omega blackpowder .50 caliber rifle to his shoulder. The buck whipped his head around and blew again. This time, Cardin thought, “This buck isn’t supposed to do any of the things he's doing. I think my Uncle David has this buck by the antlers and is moving the buck’s head with every thought I have.”
Cardin had his muzzleloader to his shoulder, and his eye on his riflescope. But he knew he wouldn’t make an iffy shot. He needed the buck to turn broadside. No sooner had Cardin finished that thought than the buck whipped his head around, turned broadside and picked up his right leg to take a step forward, exposing his vitals. Cardin squeezed the trigger.
“As the buck ran away from me, the red spot of blood on his shoulder grew,” Cardin reports. The buck jumped a barbed wire fence, walked into the CRP field – going only a few yards before slamming on the brakes, wobbling back and forth and falling over dead – less than 80 yards from Cardin. “I had one bar on my cell phone” Cardin says. “I texted Hunter Still and the others, saying I’d just shot a stud buck.” Cardin’s phone rang, and Still said, “Stay in your stand, and reload, because you still have a doe tag. We’ll be there in about 45 minutes.”
Cardin reloaded and climbed down the ladder as four does came running through the bottom. Cardin mounted his rifle, but he was so full of adrenaline and excitement that he missed a doe.
When Cardin and the guides recovered the buck he’d shot, the main frame 10-point rack also had four stickers. When measured, this buck was a 14-pointer, weighing 225 pounds field dressed, and green scored 184-7/8.
Although Cardin no longer could call his Uncle David to report the details of the hunt and the size of the buck, Cardin never doubted that Uncle David was on the hunt with him, knowing what Cardin was thinking and then turning that buck’s head to provide Cardin the shot to take his buck of a lifetime.
* BTR Score – Buckmasters’ Composite Score – Number of Inches: 180-7/8
* Official Buckmasters’ Score: 162-7/8 (doesn’t include inside spread of main beams)
This is an excerpt from John E. Phillips newest book “Whitetail Deer and the Hunters Who Take Big Bucks”. Click here to get more info about this deer hunting book and other deer hunting books by John E. Phillips.
About John E Phillips:
The author of almost 30 books on the outdoors, many on Amazon, Phillips is a founding member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA) and an active member of the Southeastern Outdoors Press Association (SEOPA).
Phillips also is the owner of Night Hawk Publications, a marketing and publishing firm, and president of Creative Concepts, an outdoor consulting group.
Visit him on his website.