BLOOMINGTON, Ill.–Deer hunting is not dead in Illinois, at least not by the number of booths working off the land angle at the Illinois Deer and Turkey Expo, back again at the Interstate Center.
For the first time in 26 years, the show was held in August, as it will be again next year.
Not sure if that is a good thing or not, but I am willing to give the show another year, after it nearly died during a couple years in Springfield.
Deer entered in the trophy display were around 100, far off the glory days. One showgoer counted only 11 “Booner” bucks, ones worthy of the record book for the Boone and Crockett Club.
That is not a good sign, either for the show or for Illinois trophy deer hunting.
Beside booths for land or related to food plots, here are some things that caught my eye.
GHOST BLIND: Probably the most active booth at the show was for the GhostBlind (see photo at the top). I would suggest seeing it in person or perusing the web site to fully understand how and why the mirror system works so effectively.
“I had a buddy get run over,” national sales manager Greg Thieman said.
REMOTE RATTLES: Antler Action, a remote antler-ratttling system, was a
first-timer at the Illinois show.
It is 100-percent American made, said sales manager Mark Hammer.
Yes, that Mark Hammer, he of the big Ohio buck.
Basically, the system allows hunters to rattle away from themselves so hand movement does not spook deer.
XOP: Do the names Cody or Andrae D’Acquisto ring a bell? The XOP–Xtreme Outdoor Products booth was worthy with its climbing sticks and hang-on stands.
WARM HANDS: I am one of those who cannot keep my hands warm in the stand.
So I was more than a little interested in the big mittens, which can be mounted on your thigh or on your stand.
They are big enough to even be able to fit a cell phone inside the mitt.
I did not buy a pair at the show, but I am considering.
MORELS: One of the highlights for me was a chat with Tom Nauman of Morel Mania. He had a well-positioned booth outside the main hall. I love his work in morel-related art or craft. He showed me how he usually puts his initials T.J. into the morels. His buddy in the booth aptly called Nauman “the rock star of morels.”