By Jeff Foiles
This is the story of my adventure last season with Hadley Creek Outfitters in Pike, Adams and Calhoun Counties in Illinois. I have hunted with Hadley for a long time and have been blessed to kill some awesome deer with them.
Another Hadley Creek hunter had killed a 178-inch 8-point before my hunt. But another buck had been seen running with that 8-point that was supposedly even bigger! The guys were calling him, “Maynard”.
So the quest began. In the first four days I saw over 122 deer. They took me to a draw, which led into a cornfield. They had a ladder stand hung, and I took my lone wolf hang-on and put it five feet above the ladder.
The scene was picturesque, with an old barn tucked into the brush and a nice draw running right beside me. As I watched, two does fed in the corn above me I heard something to my left.
A doe came feeding down the draw in the grass, but she seemed nervous. I saw her turn her head, looking back. I figured she was looking back to see another doe following her, one of the Hundreds around these Hadley Creek farms.
I stood up with my new Hoyt Defiance that I had just received from my good friend Kelly Presley of Presley’s outdoors. The doe looked up at me and thought I was busted! Then she kept feeding on. I looked back and there he was in the brush with his nose down, walking right towards her! It was the big buck we’d heard about. It was Maynard!
There he was, all 200 inches of him. He was 40 yards away in the brush. He was headed my way, with his mind on the doe.
I’ll admit that I had to get my mind off the rack and onto a spot behind his shoulder. I put the top pin behind the shoulder blade and turned the two-blade Rage loose! He kicked like a mule. As he turned, I saw the Beman hanging out the other side. He headed up the draw, into the corn and out of sight!
That’s when the shaking started. I looked at my phone. It was 3:45 and I texted my guide. He told me to stay in the tree until dark. I replayed the shot 100 times over in my mind. When my guide picked me up, we decided to let him go until morning because the buck could get off their property if we pushed him. I agreed, but it was longest night of my life!
The next morning it had rained and washed some blood off. We went back to where I shot him and got on his trail. But he hadn’t run more than 100 yards. There he was, the biggest deer I’ve ever shot!
We took lots of photos and had some laughs and smiles. We initially scored him at 200 1/8 but he ended up being 201. My good friend and taxidermist Todd smith of Smith’s Taxidermy is doing the job of mounting Maynard.
That was the season of my life. Thanks to Hadley Creek Outfitters for a memory that I’ll always cherish.