Illinois firearm deer season produces freak trophy

Illinois firearm deer season produces freak trophy


By Rick Sneath

Outdoor Writer

Nov. 18 started as just another blistering November morning. One of those when you begin to wonder, “Is this game really worth it?” Sometimes you realize it is.

Fifty-three-year-old Dan Kittle was fighting the cold weather conditions to remain in his deer stand. West winds and freezing temperatures with overcast skies made deer hunting from 18 feet up in a tree almost unbearable. Deer were not moving well because of the windy conditions, so Kittle changed his hunting strategy.

After consulting his hunting partner of 30 years (yours truly), it was decided that I would circle around a small section of timber located downwind from his stand and attempt to stalk or drive deer to Kittle. After entering the woods undetected, I began to stalk into the wind, slowly looking over the mixed soft and hardwoods. Noticing a large patch of briers, I felt this might be a likely spot for deer bedding out of the wind. Entering the six-foot briers was not attractive, but what else are you going to do?

About halfway into the briers, a doe bounded up out of them, then about 20 feet away from me, up jumped a huge buck. All I could see was antlers and tail. Unable to get a reasonable shot at the buck, I yelled at Kittle, who was in his deer stand about 200 yards in front of me.

First the doe came out of the timber and into an open bean field. Kittle held off, noticing another deer behind the doe. The buck stopped at the edge of the field. Kittle could not believe his wind-beaten eyes. The huge buck was hesitant to run out in the field and stood by the edge about 70 yards away. Kittle raised his 30-year-old, 12-gauge shotgun. Fingers frozen, eyes watering and toes numb, Kittle still thought he was hallucinating. This buck was spotted. Almost all white up front and spotted as you looked down his side. Amazed that it was real, Kittle sighted in on the buck’s midsection, touching off a perfect shot. The buck went down.

Shaking from cold and excitement, Kittle got down from the stand, meeting me along the edge of the woods. I had heard the shot and knew he hadn’t missed. Looking at the deer in disbelief, we celebrated. It was a beautiful 12-point buck with very unusual color.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources calls this coloration piebald. Webster’s Dictionary describes “piebald” as more than one color, spotted or multicolored. Piebald deer are extremely rare, considered freaks. They are even more strange than albinos, which are not legal to harvest. John Kube, Illinois Department of Conservation Forest and Wildlife biologist, states that he has seen three piebald deer in the state of Illinois, but never a huge buck. They are legal to harvest. Dan Kittle has a real trophy as a result of his cold-weather hunt.

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