My 2020 Buck

2020 Winke Buck

This is the buck I shot on October 29, 2020 while hunting the new area.

2020 was a strange year in many ways.  For me, it was not just the way our country reacted to the coronavirus that sent me into a tailspin, it was also the fact that I sold my farm during the summer.  It was something that happened pretty fast. My wife, Pam, and I knew that we would have to move sooner or later as both our parents are aging and we lived too far from them to see them as often as we should (and wanted).

Someone came along that wanted to buy the farm and like the old saying goes, the best time to sell is when you have a buyer. I expected to be able to replace the farm with something near my Mom and Dad, where I grew up.  But, it turned out that none of the people who I thought would sell to me actually did. 

2020 Bill Winke Buck

This is the area I was hunting last season. It is gorgeous country. I shot the buck on the first ridge on the right side of the photo.

So, I entered the 2020 season without my own hunting land for the first time since 1995.  For the past 25 years, I had hunted land I owned and managed.  There is something special about hunting your own land that I will never feel when hunting any other properties.  I am not sure what it is, but I believe it just a heightened intimacy you have with the land when you own it. 

I did have a good area to hunt. In fact, it was a neighborhood I had hunted often when I was “just a boy” some 30 years ago growing up in this area.  So I knew the general lay of the land and what to expect from deer movement.  It is not like I went in blind.  The biggest difference between 2020 and 1990 was the sheer number of deer and the size.

When I was a boy, a 140 inch buck was a real trophy and you didn’t see many of them.  After running trail cameras on the spot I was going to hunt in 2020, I was surprised to find at least 15 bucks that size or bigger. The biggest was a really nice main-frame 10-pointer with some sticker points.   

2020 Bill Winke Buck

The buck was entirely nocturnal on my trail cameras that were placed down in the large valley, indicating that he was not getting to the fields until after dark. So I started to hunt him in the area where I guessed he was bedding.

Unfortunately, the buck was totally nocturnal on my trail cameras located along the bottom of the valley.  However, he always approached one of the cameras from the same direction each evening so I had a pretty good idea where he was bedding.

I narrowed his bedding area down to the ridge closest to the camera on the right side of the image I included, and possibly a ridge farther toward the camera that is off the  property.

I started hunting the 25th of October – but I started slow. During the first four days, I hunted twice on the ridge where I thought he was bedding and once on the next ridge to the north and once in the valley.  I also hunted across the big valley on one of the larger ridges on that side. I passed up a couple good deer, including a really nice young buck that I hope to see in the seasons to come.

2020 Bill Winke Buck

This where the buck fell. The stand was on the ridge above and behind.

I didn’t hunt the morning of the 29th, but that afternoon I carefully made the climb to the top of the southernmost ridge and into my stand. The wind was from the south and that set up well for my stand site on the north side of the ridge top.

More than two hours before the end of legal shooting time I was shocked to see the buck moseying along the ridge, coming from the east, not much more than 30 yards out! It was pretty thick there so I had not seen him sooner.

This is where things got dicey; he was coming more or less straight toward my stand and I was sitting. You never want to get caught sitting and I had to carefully stand up as the buck continued to slowly walk my way.  Finally, I was ready and now he was just 10 yards away, quartering slightly toward me now.

I got the bow back without being seen and settled the pin right on the back edge of his shoulder. The hit was good and he tore down the back side of the ridge toward the valley to the north.  I never heard him fall, but just from the way he ran, I had a good feeling that he wasn’t going far. It was cold (teens for lows) so I just decided to wait until morning to get him.  I actually slept in the open bed of my truck in the valley below the ridge listening for coyotes (which I never heard).

One of the young farmers from the neighborhood helped me get him out the next morning. The buck had run less than 100 yards.

2020 Winke Buck

This is the old grain bin that I slept in while hunting the property. Lots of critter noises in there every night!

As a side note, I really don’t believe that I would have hunted the deer this way had there been a cameraman with me.  The tree I picked was plenty big enough but I am pretty sure it would not have hidden two guys, both moving, with a deer walking straight toward us at under 20 yards.

Also, I am not sure any camera man would have enjoyed the accommodations. I placed my tent inside a old run down grain bin and slept right there on the property in the middle of nowhere. It was long on adventure, but very short on comfort!

I was excited to shoot this buck back in my old stomping grounds and look forward to what the future holds in that area.

 

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Comments (31)

  1. David Helmly

    Great story and sounds like a great hunt Bill, congratulations and great to hear from you!!

    1. Bill Winke

      Thanks David. Much appreciated.

  2. Josh garmong

    This story is awesome Bill! Please keep them coming. They are just as entertaining as watching the hunt on video!

    1. Bill Winke

      Thanks Josh. I plan to keep increasing and improving the content on this site. I appreciate the support.

  3. Nick Favata

    Congrats on beautiful buck Bill! Glad to see content here and on Instagram !

    1. Bill Winke

      Thanks Nick. Much appreciated. Have a great day.

  4. Garrett Colglazier

    Awesome buck Bill!

    1. Bill Winke

      Thanks Garrett. Much appreciated.

  5. Ryan Rieber

    So good to read this and seeing you at the hunt. Congratulations!

  6. David Mosesso

    That is an incredible deer and a great hunt story. Loved the part about you sleeping in the back of your truck that night. That’s a true 180 from previous seasons for sure. Good job Bill and thanks for sharing.

    1. Bill Winke

      I did a lot of stuff last season (including setting up in the tree I killed the buck from) that I would not have been able to do (or just would not have done) with a cameraman along. The need to produce a daily video blog every single day and having another guy in the tree definitely changes what you can and can’t do.

  7. Troy

    Awesome buck Bill! I’m very happy for you! I’ve been following your work now for over a decade. Definitely something about hunting where you grew up. I had the opportunity to hunt as part of an LLC group on incredible property in west central Illinois from 05′-14′ but it just wasn’t the same. I’ve gone back to hunting & managing family land where i grew up in mid-mo and while less trophy opportunities, I’ve found much more enjoyable. Especially the fun of developing history with individual bucks which i learned from you. God Bless.

    1. Bill Winke

      Thanks Troy. Yes, the more we hunt the more we zero in on the experience rather than the antlers. Now I still want to shoot something big, but I would rather have a really cool experience that I will remember for a lifetime than to just shoot a big buck. Owning the land definitely increases the intensity of the experience as does hunting bucks you know in places you love to be. More and more, I just want to sit in really pretty spots and hope for the best regarding deer movement. Fortunately, most of the prettiest spots in the Midwest are also where the deer hunting is best. God bless you too.

  8. Jason

    Awesome. I so enjoy reading your articles on habitat improvement, and hunting. Keep them coming. Great buck! One that most of us only dream about.

    1. Bill Winke

      Thanks Jason. I appreciate the comment and the support. He was definitely an awesome buck. I will try to keep a steady selection of new material here on the site so please keep checking back.

  9. Doug Falone

    Congrats Bill! Glad you’re able to share with everyone. How goes the “hunt” for a new property? Looking forward to see what the future brings you. 🙂

    1. Bill Winke

      Thanks for the support. Not going super well. I thought I had a couple different really nice properties early in the search as I was going through my rolodex of all the landowners whose properties I would love to own. But none of them worked out so I am in a waiting game now, unfortunately. I will keep everyone posted as the process unfolds. Have a great day.

  10. Josh Tanner

    Now that I have found your website and most recently the YouTube channel I look forward to following along. I took my best buck last year in Iowa in Clarke county on public land. Such a magical place. Anyways you are still one of my favorites to follow along on the hunt so keep at it Bill. You still have plenty of seasoned hunters such as myself that love that you are still in the game!!

    1. Bill Winke

      Josh, thanks for the support and the kind words. I will keep at it and am glad that you are following along. Have a great day.

  11. Bill Minard

    Congratulations and that there is what deer hunting is all about imho, an adventure in God’s creation. As a Christian brother you have always been one of my favorites to learn from! Really enjoyed the story and look forward to what ever lays ahead.

    1. Bill Winke

      Thanks Bill. I will keep them coming and I appreciate the support and the encouragement. Have a great day.

  12. RANDY SAMMET

    Thanks for sharing the story. Glad I found your site.

    1. Bill Winke

      Thanks Randy. I will keep adding content on a regular basis. Good to have you here. Have a great day.

  13. David Royeen

    Glad to read your penmanship again, sorry you couldn’t get a hold of any of the desired parcels. An opportunity will arise at the right moment, patience is a virtue. Thanks for the tips, hopefully you and the family are doing well during a time of change.

    1. Bill Winke

      Thanks David. I appreciate the note and hope you and your family are doing well also. Have a great day.

  14. Patrick Butler

    So glad I found your website. I’ve been watching your videos and reading your articles since we were both much younger. I lost my parents years ago and never fault anyone for wanting to be closer to their parents as they grow older. You will never regret that I promise. My father taught me how to hunt, fish, and just enjoy being in God’s creation and I raised my children to have that same passion and love of the outdoors. Oh, congratulations on another impressive buck! You are a class act and a great example of a fine outdoorsman. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Bill Winke

      Thanks Patrick. I appreciate it very much. Have a great day.

  15. Ryan Martin

    Love your website bill. Jst recently bought a nice peice of hunting land and ill certainly keep all ur tips and advice in mind wen setting it up to try n grow big mature deer. Keep up to grear wrk!!

  16. Kevin Mullet

    Great read! I love reading stories like these and trying to visualize everything. Glad you could get back to your family and back to your roots! Awesome buck and great story. Excited to see what you come up with in the future.

  17. Jeff Sackett

    I just came back and re-read this story for inspiration as the 2021 season is starting to heat up. I’ve been a fan for years before you owned land–when you wrote about your “Tradional Trophy” with the Patriot recurve. Did you write that you thought that deer was a squirrel when it first appeared? Always the entertaining and informative stuff. Thanks Bill! Pastor Jeff

    1. Bill Winke

      Thanks for the long-time support Pastor Jeff. Much appreciated. I am starting to think whitetails again as the start date is fast approaching. I usually start October 25th each year. I have not been running cameras because the farm is in corn and it is still standing and there is almost no way to get around the place with a four wheeler when it is in corn. Should be harvesting it soon. Have a great season.

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