Access Illinois

“We took in more big deer this October than any year I can remember,” says award-winning taxidermist, Todd Smith. That is quite a statement from someone who has had a taxidermy business based out of Pittsfield, Illinois, in the heart of Pike County, for almost 30 years.

“The bucks have been exceptionally heavy this year,” says Smith. “Our average deer has been over 140 inches in the Boone & Crocket scoring method. This is at least 10 inches bigger than most years.”

When asked what he thought had attributed to this increase in size of the bucks, Smith said, “I think it is a combination of things. First we did have a reduction in the number of deer in the area due to several factors a few years ago. I actually think the slightly lower numbers have helped the deer winter better and they are in better shape. Add to that the great summer we had with an almost perfect growing season for most of the area’s agriculture crops. Deer were provided with very nutritious feed all summer so antler growth and length is better.”

By the end of October, Smith had taken in five bucks that roughly scored over 170 inches with one topping out at near 180. Despite less than optimal deer hunting conditions so far this year, Illinois like much of the country and even in to Canada, has had a very warm fall. Temperatures have remained much higher than normal with a lot of days seeing the highs around 70. No telling how many more good bucks would have been taken with some cooler more hunter- friendly weather.

When asked about the opportunity for a hunter to come in and harvest a good buck in Pike County, Smith thinks if they do their homework, chances are very good. Smith’s taxidermy business works on two to three hundred bucks a year to mount or prep for legal transportation. Judging by the mounts in his showroom, you can definitely see that Pike County, Illinois, is still producing some impressive whitetail bucks.

For more information about Access Illinois Outdoors, go to www.accessil.org or call 217-285-2464.

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