The buck Don Van Byssum shot on opening day of Illinois firearm deer season was a first for him, and for Buck of the Week.
The Naperville man bagged the eight-point with a handgun, his Ruger Super Redhawk fitted with a 2X Leupold scope, on his brother Norm's land in Kankakee County.
``When this county was opened up to handgun hunting, I accepted the challenge and was extremely happy I did,'' he said.
Unless my memory has completely gone, it's the first BOTW taken with handgun.
When handgun usage expanded for deer hunting in Illinois, I was not too keen on the idea. I thought there would be trouble. But there hasn't been.
If fact, stories like Van Byssum's make me think it might have been a good idea.
And I thought there might be more to his story, and there was.
Van Byssum sent this extended story:
I have hunted unsuccessfully downstate with a handgun, but when Kankakee County was opened up to handgun hunting this year, I thought it would be an interesting challenge to attempt it again. After hunting this property for sixteen years, the buck I took on opening morning of the firearm season was the nicest one yet. The fact that it was taken with a handgun makes it extremely rewarding. I am having the buck mounted for my fireplace, and will have an interesting story to tell.
Of interest to me was the behavior of the buck. I had to take the shot through some very thick undergrowth. After firing my Ruger Super Red Hawk fitted with a 2X Leupold scope, the buck did not blast off as deer always do after being hit. He just stood there. I thought the shot had simply missed him, he was being extremely cautious before exposing himself, and felt safer in the thick brush than he would be fleeing the area. At any rate, he was still standing there and I had more bullets in the gun, So I settled the crosshairs on what I could make out of his form and let another one fly. He tipped over on the spot and was down for good. Since I was on foot, I was on him within seconds, with a third bullet at the ready if needed. It wasn't. He was down with two bullet holes about six inches apart in the vital area. He may have been dead on his feet after the first shot, and had simply not yet fallen.
BOTW, a celebration of Illinois deer hunting, appears on the outdoors page of the Sun-Times each Wednesday from about November through about January (probably longer this year). An extended online version appears here, usually by midnight Tuesday.
E-mail BOTW nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.