Illinois Dream Buck: Main-Frame 8 Scores 160 Plus!

Mike: November 10, 2011 was very windy, 15 to 20 miles per hour. I wasn't even going to hunt because of the wind and the fact that I would get to my favorite stand so late in the afternoon. But I went anyway and arrived at my stand approximately 3:15 pm.

The buck came in with his nose to the ground, following the trail of a doe that had come through 10 minutes prior. I heard him coming, and the first thing I noticed was the length of his tines. I also noticed the immense size of his body. The buck never did pick his head up as he turned and gave me a broadside shot at 16 yards.

He ran hard for about 30 yards and then walked away like nothing had happened. I watched him disappear into a deep ditch. It was 4:35 pm. I waited 15 minutes before I climbed down. I went to the last place I saw the buck and walked down into the ditch. Underneath the branches of a hedge tree was a freshly worked scrape with about 15 drops of blood in it.

I suspected a liver hit, so I backed out and headed home. I talked with my wife and we agreed to wait 3 hours before coming back to look for the buck.

(Hanback here: Gary says his wife is the true bowhunter of the family. She has over 100 archery trophies to her credit and has shot 36 deer with a bow. In 1989, she harvested 2 deer with a bow when she was 9 months pregnant. The second one when she was 5 days overdue and 15 feet up in a tree.  "She always knows where to place a stand and she is a great tracker. Without her the buck of my dreams might have been just a memory.”)

I got out my new Coleman lantern that I had gotten for my birthday and headed back to the woods about 7:45 pm. The blood trail was difficult to follow, as the buck led us through waist-high weeds and up to the top of a steep hillside. At this point, we found an area matted with blood where he had bedded down. We tracked the buck along a bench that wound around to a logging road. It seemed as though the buck stumbled in a couple of places because we started finding more blood.

We found another fresh scrape with drops of blood in it. About 15 yards farther, the buck bedded down again. The frequency of blood increased as the buck zigzagged from one side of the road to the other. As we started to cross another logging road, my wife found where he had bedded again. Another 5 yards and there he was in some blackberry brambles.

He was a sight to behold! My taxidermist estimated he would score 160 plus. He field dressed 230 pounds and was 5 1/2 years old. We did not have any trail camera photos of this buck, and I had never seen him during daylight hours. But I knew there was a big buck in the area because of the rubs he was making—on trees as big around as your thigh or bigger.

This buck is very special to me because of the elderly couple, Anna and Arlo, who left us this 130-acre property, which we have owned since 1993. We call it the “Quiet Place” and it has filled us with dreams that will last a lifetime. Arlo and my dad shot an 8 point monster here that scored 152 typical in 1978. They killed it less than 100 yards from where I shot my deer. My wife killed an 8 point buck here that scored 129 5/8 and field dressed 245 pounds. I harvested this deer on my mother's birthday.

I think about this couple every time I am in the woods. Anna and Arlo never had any children and they wanted the property to go to my wife and me so we would always have a place to hunt. This hunt and this buck are dedicated to 2 wonderful people that made my deer hunting dreams possible.--Thanks, Gary Sulcer


  • I love this story because it is so true: a spot like the Quiet Place is special to a hunter for many reasons.
  • Another great example of a hunter bucking the wind and heading to a stand, and even though he thought it was too late in the day. Many giants are killed when you least expect it! Hunt every hour you can, especially in the rut. 
  • Gary and his wife decided to wait 3 hours but then follow up the giant in the dark, which was a good call. A liver-hit deer will always die, though it takes awhile. They found the buck before coyotes could.
  • As I have written/blogged many times, November 10 any year is one of the best rut days to shoot a giant.
  • Interesting this buck walked through (and bled into) at least 2 scrapes; those were his scrapes and he was walking on familiar ground.
  • Not surprising Gary had never seen the giant in daylight before, many reclusive monsters are like that. He killed the deer 70 yards from the scrape in the ditch. Something else I’ve blogged that you should remember—around November 7-10, hunt your best stand near fresh scrapes in remote timber because a nocturnal giant will often show at last light, moving a little earlier than he wants to but driven by the rut. Didn’t hurt that the doe came through 10 minutes earlier, perfect!
  • Gary is a 16-year cancer survivor. Continued good luck to you sir, and Godspeed. Thanks for sharing your fantastic story. comment




Jerad's Gravatar Really great story, Gary what a brute man! :)
# Posted By Jerad | 1/4/12 11:43 AM
Dean Weimer's Gravatar Cool story Gary. Congrats on a beautiful buck.

The funny thing is that I saw one very similar to that last evening in a cut cornfield. Now that our season is over I'll start to see some of the big ones that now realize the hunting pressure is over. He was with another good 10-pointer and several younger bucks and many does and fawns. It's amazing how they know when it's o.k. to come out and feed. Cold weather and snow helps of course.
# Posted By Dean Weimer | 1/4/12 12:33 PM
Luke Strommen's Gravatar Wow, neat story. I really don't know if there is anything truly more beautiful than a huge mainframe 4x4 (ok, 8 point...). And the history
just makes it that much more special. Dude...the facts on the wife are amazing! I want to know more about that....congratulations, Gary!
# Posted By Luke Strommen | 1/4/12 12:34 PM
Jim Bastion's Gravatar Awesome Job Gary and Gary's wife thats a true partner in life a wife that Hunts and Tracks......glad to hear you have and continue to kick Cancer's ASS!!! way to go Dude
great Story.....
# Posted By Jim Bastion | 1/4/12 4:01 PM
Rick from PA's Gravatar GREAT story!
# Posted By Rick from PA | 1/4/12 11:12 PM
Mack's Gravatar Lucky is the man who has a wife that enjoys and shares all that he does, even if she out does him from time to time. A great story all around. I have a quiet place as well, but I call it the cottage. I loose ten years of age when I visit.
# Posted By Mack | 1/5/12 2:40 PM