Sponsored by: Nikon Sports Optics & Wildlife Research Center

Columnist Bob Robb is on his way to hunt Illinois famed Brown County while testing some hot new gear. Come along and see how things go.

All you whitetail nuts out there are already getting after it hard. November is the time for most of you to forget all about family, friends, and work – at least as much as you can. The bucks are starting to move, and come Hell or high water it is time to put maximum time in on stand.

I have always liked to hunt the very early portions of the pre-rut, especially in the northern tier of the whitetail’s range in the U.S. There are several reasons for this. First, hunting pressure is not as ramped up yet as it will be in another week or two, when the woods are swarmed with die-hards. Second, if you can catch a doe in early estrous it can be better than a winning lottery ticket, with every buck in the neighborhood vying for her attention. Third, in years of good mast crops, hunting acorn ridges that funnel between bedding thickets and agriculture can be a great way to catch a mature buck loading up on high-calorie nuts prior to the rigors of the full rut.

Brady Arview did lots of trail camera scouting using a new Stealth Cam Unit prior to our arrival in central Illinois.

This year I have been invited to hunt some superb land in Illinois’ Brown County controlled by Brady Arview, VP of Sales & Marketing for New Archery Products . Also here will be Pat McKenna of Ameristep , as well as Mark Seidlinger of Media Direct, who does p/r for several companies including the above but also Stealth Cam , Flextone Calls and Wildlife Research Center , among others.

My friend Mark Melotik, Editor of Archery Business and Managing Editor of Bowhunting World magazines, is also here. This will be sort of like déjà vu all over again for me. In 1999, just a few miles from where I’ll be hunting, I arrowed the biggest buck of my life, a perfectly symmetrical 10-point that netted 181 3/8 Pope & Young points. I’ll get to hunt this incredible area while trying out some of the hottest new gear for 2011.

I have to admit it — at times like this I absolutely love my job!
The airplane landed and, unlike my last flight on Delta Airlines when my huge aluminum bow case was totaled, my bow case and duffel both arrived intact. Mark Seidlinger picked me up and we headed off on the 90-minute drive to camp. Once we arrived there was ample time to shoot a few arrows to make sure everything is right, get the gear sorted out, and drool over the trail cam photos Brady has downloaded to his laptop. Then, just after dark we drove out to pick up McKenna, and on the drive back there he is. In the headlights stands a magnificent buck, a huge 9-pointer with a linebacker body and tines that reach high for the bright moon above. Everybody in the truck is talking at once. “Did you see that thing? Ohmygawd, he’s huge!!! Let’s get after it!”

This is why you come to a place like this. We start tomorrow, so why not come follow along and hunt with us? I’ll let you know how it goes in my daily hunt blog.