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Nov. 5, 2011

Big Bucks Corner

Ray Meldrum’s monster non-typical

Sat, November 05, 2011

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When the biggest deer he had ever seen walked away over the ridge following a pair of does, Ray Meldrum could only sigh.

“I figured that’s the last I’d ever see of him,” said Meldrum, a bowhunter from Oquawka who was hunting in Henderson County on the morning of Nov. 5.

The buck was within 40 yards of Meldrum, but he didn’t have a shot and could not see the deer well in the low-light conditions. Even so, he could tell the deer was huge.

“He went down and actually worked a scrape or two, then went to the does and they walked out of sight,” Meldrum said. “I sent everybody a text that I had just seen the biggest deer I’d ever seen in my life out of a tree stand.”

It wasn’t long before the veteran bowhunter was able to send out a much happier message telling the story of how he shot what may well be the highest-scoring non-typical whitetail buck killed in Illinois this season.

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About 30 minutes after Meldrum’s initial sighting of the buck, the two does returned behind his stand – dead downwind of him.

But Meldrum purposely sets his stands toward the top of ridges whenever possible so that his scent will drift out well above the ravines below. That strategy may well have helped.

Because the does came up from one of those ravines and walked nearly to his stand. Of more importance, the big buck was following just behind and ultimately got within 40 yards of Meldrum – who let fly with a good shot that hit the deer close to where he wanted.

“I could see the arrow like slow motion. I could see the hit,” he said. “At first I worried it was a little too far back.”

So when the buck ran to the edge of the ridge, stood there and then trotted away out of sight, Meldrum stayed put.

“With a deer like that I was not going to push him,” he said. “I stayed in the stand for four hours before I got down. I knew he was big and didn’t want to take any chances at bumping him.”

Meldrum had reason to feel fairly confident. As the big buck ran past after Meldrum’s shot, it bumped a tree, snapping off part of the arrow sticking out of its side. Meldrum later found the arrow in his binoculars and saw blood.

So while he was uncertain, he was confident enough to send out another text message to friends, this one in all capitals, “I JUST SHOT HIM!”

When Meldrum got down he found that arrow and plenty of good blood. Even so, he was careful, stopping at the edge of the ridge and glassing the ravine below before going any farther.

There, partway down the hill, was the biggest buck Meldrum, 40, has shot in a deer hunting career that stretches back 27 years to the days when he was 13. That moment alone was well worth taking a week of vacation in early November just to hunt – as he does every fall.

Turns out his shot had been good, taking out both lungs and the liver.

As he approached the buck, Meldrum experienced the exact opposite of ground-shrinkage. That’s when the happiest text message of all beamed through Henderson County.

“He’s bigger than I thought,” Meldrum wrote of a buck that had a basic 6 x 7 frame with several sticker points and double drop tines.

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Interestingly enough, Meldrum thinks he may have seen the same buck late last season – only without the drop tines. “That was the biggest deer I’d ever seen up until then,” he said.

And drop tines are not very common in the area he hunts. “Actually, I have a fair amount of deer on the wall and a huge box of racks in the garage and that’s the first one I’ve seen with drop tines or anything like this buck,” he said.

Meldrum did his best to measure the big buck and twice came up with gross scores that topped 255 inches.

“I’m hoping that can’t be too far off,” he said.

If the score stands, Meldrum’s buck could well rank as the largest non-typical shot this year in Illinois.

Other possible contenders for the non-typical crown include a big Williamson County buck shot by bowhunter Travis Cockburn and a gnarly old buck shot by shotgun hunter Josh Riggs in LaSalle County during the first firearm season.


Congratulations on your monster buck of a life time!! I looked at the buck and now all I keep singing is “da thirty point buck” song by da-loopers   Amazing deer man good luck for the rest of the year

Posted by Poffey on January 12

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