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Are you as dry as we are here, Starbux?

How close are you to Cass County?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
We're really dry again. I got lucky and caught a couple rains that kept the corn (food plot) and beans looking good. They're really thirsty now though. I'm across the river from south STL and Jeff county. I don't know where Cass is.
 

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I got my copy in the mail last week and have already read it twice. It's required reading for anyone who's serious about hunting trophy bucks. The man definately knows his stuff. :eek:
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yeah Mark, I'm gonna read it again. I don't think I absorbed it all the first time. One look at the barn wall will tell you this guy knows what he's doing. I went past Moultrie county on Friday and it's mostly open with pockets of timber and long wooded creek bottoms. Similar to where I hunt.
 

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I hunted several farms west of that area for a number of years. He's not kidding when he says there are a lot better places to deer hunt in Illinois than there. The trick is to make the most of what you have and hunt it very carefully.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Here's an article from the Springfield paper:

By CHRIS YOUNG
OUTDOORS EDITOR
Published Saturday, August 19, 2006

Don Higgins doesn't live in the tightly edited world of hunting videos and magazine articles, and he figures most other hunters don't, either.

That's why he compiled three decades of his experience hunting - and tagging - trophy white-tailed deer in a new book, "Hunting Trophy Whitetails in the Real World."

"Real world" refers to the "wild and pressured whitetails that most of us hunt," he writes in the book's opening chapter. "In other words, we hunt whitetails that live in the real world as opposed to those that live behind high fences or on huge tracts of leased land."

Higgins' book is 207 pages of plain talk and blunt advice for deer hunters on subjects including the best times of day to hunt, proper placement of tree stands and scouting and deer-hunting ethics.

Higgins lives in east-central Illinois near Gays - far from some of Illinois' better-known hunting grounds. He displays his credentials on the book's front cover, where he is pictured in front of an old barn on which the mounts of 15 trophy bucks and the skulls of two more hang. All were killed with bow and arrow.

Tim Walmsley of Fowler is the author of "Trophy Whitetails of Illinois," and he has measured and scored many of the state's biggest bucks. He says Higgins' book is "a heck of a refresher course" even for the most die-hard trophy hunter.

"It's a whole different world when you are hunting 4- to 5-year-old bucks," Walmsley says. "Where he hunts is basically open country with little bitty patches of woods and drainage ditches."

Trophy deer aren't always found where hunters think they should be.

"A big buck needs just a little bit of cover, but he needs a lot of seclusion," Higgins says.

"They ain't in the big timber where all the stupid deer are," Walmsley says. "They seclude themselves and it is extremely difficult to get near them."

Higgins says pursuing deer that have survived several hunting seasons now takes all of his time and energy.

"I gave up all the other outdoor activities to focus on big whitetails," he says. "I used to do it all."

Deer hunters will find the advice in Higgins' book sometimes differs from conventional wisdom.

For one, Higgins advises hanging tree stands and cutting shooting lanes immediately following the close of deer season in winter and then staying away.

"Your past hunting experience should tell you where those stands need to be," he writes. "...Get it done before spring. When hunting season opens you will already have your stands in place and won't need to stomp around in your hunting area and creating disturbances that will end your chances of tagging a mature buck."

He also puts less stock in signs of a deer's presence, such as rubs and scrapes, saying most of these are made at night and are no guarantee that the deer will make an appearance during hunting hours.

Instead, he likes to hunt natural features that funnel deer or provide the easiest avenue of travel.

Access is important, he writes, as hunters need to be able to get into the stand undetected.

But Higgins is careful to explain that he is simply relating what has worked well for him over the past 30 years.

"I didn't want to come off sounding like the ultimate authority, but at the same time, killing big bucks is kind of like riding a bicycle," he says. "You can read all the books you want, but until you go out there and fall on your face a few times, nothing is a substitute for experience."

He says the reaction to his book has been “better than I could ever dream.†He has sold nearly 300 copies, mostly by word of mouth with no advertising so far. He said a few notices about the book should appear in hunting magazines this fall.

Higgins has earned a reputation for speaking his mind on issues from politics to hunting ethics.

“It seems to be one extreme or the other,†he says. “They either love me or hate me - there is nobody on the fence.â€

“There was no purpose in that approach,†he adds. “It’s just the way I am, and I find out who my friends are in a hurry.â€

Higgins’ obsession with deer hunting spills over into his working life. He and his wife, Robin, operate Higgins Tree Farm, specializing in helping landowners plan and carry out conservation plantings on ground enrolled in programs like the Conservation Reserve Program or Wetlands Reserve Program.

“I think it’s very important,†he says. “I feel that we as hunters should leave the deer herd better than we found it for the next generation.â€

Higgins will sign copies of his book at Buckstop Archery in Brownstown today and Sunday as part of the store’s customer appreciation days.

Chris Young can be reached at 788-1528 or [email protected].
 
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