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Heartland Outdoors

Bloomington Beast

Thu, November 09, 2017



BLOOMINGTON – Austin Nord debated where to go as he prepared to hunt on Oct. 5.
The stand he wanted to hunt was a proven funnel that had produced deer and nice bucks over the years. But last summer, neighbors had taken out about 20 acres of timber to open up more tillable ground. That timber, just 400 yards or so from the stand, had long been a hotspot for deer.
As he walked in shortly after 3 p.m., Nord gave serious consideration to another stand that he had to pass to reach the funnel. But he forged on to the funnel – a choice that has forever changed his hunting career.

Such are the decisions hunters make all the time. Sit in the wrong spot and you can watch big bucks frolic under another stand. Pick the right spot and you can end up with your picture being viewed on cell phones and computers all over Illinois – as was the case for Nord.
“Obviously, I got pretty lucky on the spot I picked,” he said. “But it’s probably been the best stand on the property for seeing deer.”

The area he was hunting is west of Bloomington. The stand is along a tree-lined fenceline that has bean fields behind it and a bean and hayfield in front. He tries to avoid hunting mornings in the early season, saying he doesn’t want to push deer out of his area.
“They’re on an afternoon schedule then, anyway,” he said.

The “schedule” was slow on Oct. 5 for Nord, 25, who works for his father’s Nord Construction business and who takes as much time off work as possible during deer season.


After a few quiet hours of sitting, two bucks came into the hayfield and rattled horns in a fight at about 5:30 p.m.
“They were out in the field for probably 45 minutes or so and went right back into the treeline they had come out of,” Nord said.
After a few more minutes, Nord decided to try his grunt call. He’d recently read an online article about grunting throughout the season and decided to put what he read to good use.

“I pulled out my grunt call and hit it two or three times. And I heard a stick break in the field where beans were still in,” Nord said. “I turned and there was a deer 20 yards from me, right in my shooting lane. He had to have been walking right down the treeline.”
In just a quick glance, Nord saw “a ton of points on the right side.”

So he grabbed his bow and uttered a “murrr” to stop the buck, which looked past Nord into the hayfield on the other side.
“I was able to get my bow up and shoot him,” Nord said.
The buck ran about 30 yards and stood partly behind a tree. Even obscured, that’s when Nord could start to tell that the deer was sporting an impressive rack of antlers.
“I started shaking a ton,” Nord said. “He probably went 2 to 2 1/2 minutes just standing there. Then he walked out into the bean field and stood there.”

Rather than take a chance that his first shot was enough, Nord decided to shoot again.
“Last year I had a pretty nice 8-pointer and I shot him once and he had the same reaction. He just stopped and didn’t move,” Nord said. “I ended up losing that buck.”

Obviously, this was no buck to take a chance on. But it also presented some unique problems.
“On my initial pull-back when I was trying to hold a pin on him, I was going from above him to below him and then from right to left of him,” Nord said. “I was shaking so bad. You talk about excitement.”
Finally, he steadied himself, put the pin on the deer and loosed another arrow that hit the buck, which ran 20-25 yards and disappeared out of sight behind another tree.

“I had no idea where he was,” Nord said. “So I just stayed in the stand until dark and got down and called a buddy (Ryan Peterson).”
Peterson had grown up down the street from Nord and he was the person who got Nord into bowhunting years ago. They are still friends and help each other with the various tasks of hunting preparation, as well as tracking and dragging.

While waiting for his friend, Nord found his first arrow, which had good blood on it.

After Peterson arrived, Nord found his second arrow and a blood trail that led a short way into the beans.
There was a buck the likes of which Nord had never before seen – not on trail camera and not in person.
“At first, I thought his antlers were bean stalks. They blended in perfect with the field,” Nord said. “Then I grabbed his head and it was just crazy. It went from looking like a bunch of bean stalks laying there to, ‘I just shot a 30-point buck.’ It was pretty insane.”
So is the buck’s typical 9-point frame, which includes 31 scorable points and features a third beam that ends in a massive drop tine that still has traces of velvet.

Nord is having the buck mounted by Kurt Thompson of Bloomington who gave the rack a very unofficial green score of 241 1/2 inches. Other measurers, based strictly on online examinations of the buck say it could easily be that big.
“I’ve never seen a drop tine like that in person. That thing is awesome,” Nord said. “And both of the main beams were 19 inches, I want to say.”
Surprisingly, none of the neighbors in the area said they had seen the buck either, Nord said.
“Last year during shotgun season I shot a nice 8-pointer during the rut about 500 yards” away from the funnel stand, Nord said.
While hunting that day, he saw a buck with a “weird-looking rack that was right on a doe.”
Efforts to stop that buck failed last year.

“I don’t think he looked this big thinking back, but as messed up as the rack was, it could have been him,” Nord said. “That would have been the only deer I’ve seen that could have been this one.”
Nord said both his shots hit the buck.
“The first arrow I think hit him too far back. But the exit and entry hole looked like it would have been a kill shot,” Nord said. “The second arrow double-lunged him.”

A bowhunter for the past dozen years, Nord raved about the Trophy Ridge React 1 sight he has on his Bowtech Assassin bow.
“I’m comfortable shooting anything at 40 to 60 yards,” Nord said. “It still puts together good groupings at those distances.”
The question he faces now, though, is what to do for the rest of bow season. Most likely, there will be no more 240-inch bucks wandering his way.
“I’ve been asking myself the same question,” he said. “I feel like it’s going to get hard. I’m going to have a 150-inch 8-pointer walk up to me and it’s going to seem small. This is easily the biggest buck I’ve ever shot and probably ever will shoot.”
That said, Nord enjoys hunting too much to hang it up now.

“Once the rut comes, you can’t hunt any better time than that,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll be out as much as I am every year.”
And the big buck may have had an added bonus for Nord, whose father, John, has not deer hunted in the past few years.
Two winters ago, the younger Nord gave his father a crossbow as a gift. So far it has not been used.
“But after me shooting this big buck, my dad said I may have give him the itch to get back into it,” Nord said. “Hopefully I did.”


Monday night bass tournaments