In my preseason posts on BIG DEER I predicted that 2016 would be the best rack year we’ve seen since 2010 across America. That turned out not only to be true but an understatement, as gigantic bucks have been killed from Virginia to Indiana to Kansas to Wisconsin and all places in and around and in between.
A part of the buck boom has been the comeback of Pike County.
“We took in more big deer this October than any year I can remember,” says award-winning taxidermist Todd Smith. That is quite a statement from someone who has had a taxidermy business based out of Pittsfield, Illinois, in the heart of Pike County, for more than 25 years.
“The bucks have been exceptionally heavy this year,” says Smith. “Our average deer has been over 140 inches Boone & Crockett. This is at least 10 inches bigger than most years.”
When asked what he thought had attributed to this increase in size, Smith said, “I think it is a combination of things. First we did have a reduction in the number of deer in the area due to several factors a few years ago. I actually think the slightly lower numbers have helped the deer winter better and they are in better shape. Add to that the great summer we had with an almost perfect growing season for most of the area’s agriculture crops. Deer were provided with very nutritious feed all summer so antler growth and length is better.”
By the end of October, Smith had taken in 5 bucks that scored over 170 inches with one topping out at near 180 green. This despite less than optimal hunting conditions so far this year; Illinois like much of the country and into Canada has had a warm fall, with temperatures much higher than normal. No telling how many more good bucks would have been taken with some cooler weather, but surely it would have been some.
And this before gun season started, so look for more bomber bucks to fall in Illinois and across the country in next few weeks.
The big deer year of 2016 continues! Hope it’s going well in your neck of the woods.