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Outdoors: The buck drops here

Through an opening in the trees, Timothy Nichols watched a big buck chase off smaller bucks in the rain Tuesday morning. Then the doe, the object of the attention, ran into where Nichols was on private land in Will County.

‘‘I drew my bow back and held it, waiting for him to walk in there,’’ he said.

Where the ladies are, guys will follow. That holds true for whitetail bucks in the rut in early November.

Oh, Nichols bagged what will be one of the biggest non-typical bucks taken in Illinois this year. The details make it special.

The buck had been seen on trail camera, then in the flesh on Nov. 3, when Nichols ‘‘didn’t have a shot. All I saw was antlers.’’

Antlers? The buck’s rack had 17 scorable points, including two massive drop tines (antlers growing down).

‘‘[The rack] had nubs [points too small to count] and trash everywhere,’’ Nichols said.

Back to Tuesday, as the fronts dropped in.

‘‘It was starting to rain, but I sat through it,’’ said Nichols, 28, of Glen Ellyn, who hunts from 4:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., then works in commercial real estate and insurance into the night.

That sitting paid off when the deer activity started and the buck followed the doe.

‘‘It was raining so hard when I shot him that he couldn’t hear it,’’ Nichols said.

He was using a Mathews Switchback bow with a Maxima Hunter 250 arrow from Pete Mull at Buck Stop Archery and a Rage hypodermic broadhead.

In a modern turn, Nichols had turned the trail cam to video. His shot was captured on video.

‘‘You can hear the bow go,’’ he said.

But he found no blood and no arrow.

He called his dad, Robert, the true hero of this tale. He’s the one who started Nichols hunting when he was 7. He had another lesson for his son: how to find a deer. He told his son to back out.

So Nichols went to taxidermist Joe Cochrane of Nature’s Image in Lombard.

‘‘I sat back and watched the video 100 times,’’ Nichols said.

About 3 p.m., they went back to look for the buck. Robert Nichols had called off work as a semi driver for Jewel to help. Good thing he did.

‘‘We all had a feeling on the direction,’’ Nichols said. ‘‘Dad, a special thanks goes to him. We found it 1,000 yards away with no blood. We were basically looking for the deer. We picked up the [hoof prints] and followed that way. It was in tall grass. You would basically have to trip over it to find it.’’

The shot went through the liver.

It was a big-bodied deer, too — 265 pounds field-dressed.

‘‘I had a helluva time dragging it,’’ Nichols said. ‘‘Luckily, we only had to drag it about 100 yards.’’

The rack green-scored (in inches of various measurements) at 2011/8, a record-book buck of a lifetime. The double drop tines make it doubly unique.

Cochrane will mount the deer.

‘‘Life size; I am not going to let you doing anything else,’’ Cochrane told Nichols.

A final surprise came when Cochrane dressed out the buck Thursday night. He found two other broadheads, which might explain the two drop tines. Stress often shows in non-typical racks.



Dave Derk photographed this rare moose, swimming and climbing out of a lake, while vacationing last month in Vilas County in northern Wisconsin.


Fish gathering

Thursday: Harry Vopicka of All Seasons Marine, Fish Tales Fishing Club, 7 p.m., Bremen Township Building, Oak Forest,

Illinois seasons/permits

Through Dec. 7 (or until quotas filled): Remaining firearm and muzzleloader permits available over the counter.

Today: Last day of the first Canada goose season in the central zone.

Friday-next Sunday: First firearm deer season.


‘‘Ran into a guy today with a Bible in his hands. He wanted to read to me from the book of Revelation to prove that Bruce Rauner was the Antichrist. I simply asked him why the Antichrist would want to be governor of this woebegotten state and walked away. I need a juju to protect myself from weirdos.’’

— Norm Minas, on another escapade while fishing the Kankakee River


Q: [The column on mudpuppy research on the Chicago lakefront] brought back memories of the 1980s’ Fishing Facts and In-Fisherman articles. I believe tipping large jigs was the subject for fall fishing up north. Just don’t hear about them as bait anymore. Where would you get them, anyway?

— Mike

A: Probably the reason you do not hear about them as bait is because they are threatened in Illinois and a species of special concern in Wisconsin.


8,000 — Sandhill cranes (almost) on Wednesday at Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area southeast of Valparaiso, Ind.