Nineteen years ago, Gary Hintz, now owner of Bucks and Bulls Archery in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, took a four-day weekend jaunt to Illinois, determined to find a new place to hunt. After an arduous 998 miles of driving, checking out public land and knocking on doors, Hintz found 3,000 acres to lease, and he leases them to this day.
Hintz has been shooting archery competitively for more than two decades, and stories told by other archers of Illinois’ giant bucks spurred Hintz’s inaugural Illinois exploration. You see, he’d grown tired of the hunting pressure and lack of monster bucks in his Wisconsin hunting locations, and change was in order.
Learning the Ropes
“During the first few years of hunting in Illinois, my friends and I killed some smaller bucks because we didn’t realize that the property held some giant bucks,” Hintz shared. “We soon started being more selective and began killing larger, more impressive bucks.”
Of the outstanding bucks he and his friends have claimed over the last 19 years, one in particular stands out from the rest. It’s the buck Hintz nailed during his 2016 shotgun hunt.
Let the story begin.
A Relationship Develops
Hintz first learned the buck existed when it was 3 ½ years old.
“He was about 20 inches wide with two smaller drop tines at that time,” Hintz recalled. “I saw him and found his sheds every year until he was 7 ½ years old. When he was 5 ½ years old, I saw him seven times from my treestands, but I just couldn’t get a shot at him.”
Gathering the magnum buck’s sheds really helped Hintz establish the buck’s home area and concrete a game plan.
“Each year, I spend a lot of time in Illinois during the spring to look for sheds,” Hintz said. “We found all of this drop-tine buck’s sheds and captured all of his trail-cam photos within a one-mile stretch,” Hintz said, “so I knew where he was living.
“I saw the buck on a field in January 2016 on the last day of hunting season,” Hintz added. “I returned to that exact spot in…