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My name is Jeff Mussolino. I started hunting when I was fifteen, back in the days when slinging led at one-horn spikes was hunting to me. Back then, I didn’t even know what bow hunting was. I was green to say the least. I really didn’t find out just how green I was until I was in my early thirties. I stumbled into a family farm, known for producing big bucks located in a part of my home state of Maryland. I didn’t know why big bucks were in that county and not in the county I had been hunting in, but I was told that they were there.
By this point in my hunting obsession, I had been introduced to bow hunting by an avid bow hunter and friend. It was the first week of November when I had my first encounter with a true monster buck. I had just gotten a perfect pass-through shot on a six-point buck with a fourteen-inch spread and thought I just killed one of the big bruisers that the farmer had been telling me about. In the minutes following my kill shot, a doe caught my eye from across the field. She kept looking back and flicking her tail. I scanned back into the woods with my binoculars. There he was. I didn’t even have to see his rack. The body on this deer was unlike anything I had ever seen before. He stepped into the field like he owned it and me. He walked straight out across the field about sixty yards from me and just stopped, looking directly at me. This buck looked like the Arnold Schwarzenegger of deer. I had never seen anything to compare to him in my years of hunting. I managed to count sixteen points as he walked across the field and into the pine thicket. I knew right then and there I had to pick up my game if I was going to ever take an animal like that with any type of weapon.
Since then, I have never been satisfied with killing just any deer. If I need meat, I would rather harvest a doe. For the past fifteen years, I have been sharpening my skills and matching wits with big mature whitetails. I read books, went to seminars and listened to hunters who were consistently taking big bucks. I realized that success leaves clues, if you are willing to look for them. I started preseason scouting and looking at topographical maps of my farm. No more stumbling through bedding areas. No more throwing on the clothes that were washed with all my other clothes. Most importantly, no more unnecessary activity on the farm. Big bucks don’t like to be bumped. I have gone many a year without killing a buck because I had my sights set on a buck whose sheds I had found, or, a monster that I had seen from afar with a spotting scope during the summer months.
I like to look at my lifelong journey as a hunter in phases. The first fifteen years were all about the kill. Shooting the first buck with horns I saw. Never waiting to see if something bigger would be following behind. The next 10 years were what I call the enlightenment years. I started putting myself in the position to harvest bigger deer, and even managed to put a couple of twenty-inch deer on the wall with a whole bunch of respectable racks laying around to reminisce over. Not to mention over twenty bucks that I helped my fellow hunters put on the wall. Then it happened. I got invited to take my first whitetail hunt out of my home state. I went to the land of Lincoln. The great state of Illinois took me to yet the next phase of my hunting exploits. I like to refer to this phase as the OH MY GOD phase.
In the last ten years, I have come along way as a hunter and as an outfitter. I know that a lot of hunters never get to experience matching wits with a true monster buck. Let alone four, five, ten or more monster bucks in just a six-day period. Many hunters see ten to fifteen bucks per day. I personally spend almost a month in Illinois either in the woods hunting or putting other hunters in the woods. I usually start getting numb to the big racks around buck 100. I have more than a handful of Pope & Young whitetails and a couple of Booners on the wall. Believe me, it doesn’t happen by accident.
I spend a lot of time looking for good hunting ground that has the kind of habitat that monster bucks need to get monstrous. I have worked with farmers with food plots of all kinds and varieties for various times of the year. I am obsessed with these huge bucks of the Midwest and truly enjoy seeing good hunters match wits with these amazing animals. I get just as much pleasure from seeing other people take the buck of their dreams as I do taking one myself. I believe in early season planting and scouting of my farms and then staying off them until my hunters show up. When I do go into a property to retrieve a disc from a camera or to set up a blind, I do it during midday with rubber boots and rubber gloves. I am a big believer in not over-hunting an area. I like as little pressure on a farm as possible. Keeping the ground fresh is crucial for allowing hunters their best opportunity to see quality deer. If you have not experienced a good Illinois bow hunt and are wondering what all the hoopla is about please check out my web site. I will do my best to enable you to go one on one with the monster of your dreams.