There is something about big racks that gets any deer hunter fired up. And I saw plenty of those this fall. The Boneyard Outfitters lived up to their name this season and did some major bone collecting on whitetail deer hunts, and it was a beautiful thing. Bowhunters saw some incredible action in October and it just got better in November. Just about every bowhunter in camp had great opportunities on big bucks, with some dandies hitting the dirt. And despite Illinois state harvest totals down from last year, the gun hunters cleaned house. During the first 3-day season, the boys from West Virginia tagged out with two giant 9-pointers and a heavy-racked 13-pointer. The Illinois rut was still in swing during the first 3-day shotgun season and bucks were everywhere, chasing hard and providing lots of opportunities.
“One of our hunters took buck that we had on our trail cam photos,” says Jason Johns, owner and guide at Boneyard Outfitters, “So we got to see his rack in velvet and then what he turned out fully developed. We think that was the first time anyone saw that deer during the daytime, and one our hunters got him.” Johns has been practicing quality deer management and it’s paid off, big time. I was fortunate to be hunting at the Boneyard for gun season, witnessing firsthand the result of Johns’ buck management tactics. On just about every day of the gun season, bucks were hitting the ground.
And it got even better for the second half. Despite miserable hunting conditions in Southern Illinois with cold temps and pouring rain, hunters were still scoring. John Schillawski from upstate NewYork dropped a dandy 9-pointer on the opening day of the second half with a 187-yard shot from his muzzleloader. Christian Turvey took his buck with a 90-yard shot. On Saturday, the “buck count” continued. And on the very last day of the gun season, Jared Proper from Auburn, New York harvested a monster buck with only 15 minutes left of shooting time. That should be a lesson for all deer hunters — never give up. “With the hunt coming to an end, I was a little disappointed, and then all of a sudden, there he was,” explains Proper, “And the rest is history.” Proper drilled the buck, and has one heck of a story of his Illinois deer hunt.
Johns has a great crew at the Boneyard Outfitters and works hard to get all his hunters on deer. His Boneyard Lodge has great overnight accommodations and some of the best home-cooked meals in Southern Illinois. If you’re looking for a quality Illinois Whitetail hunt, contact Jason at BoneyardOutfitters.com. He has packages that include meals and lodging and some of the best free-range whitetail hunts in the Country. You better act quick though, 2015 and 2016 hunts are booking fast.
Check out the photo gallery from deer camp…