I got the opportunity to go to Alaska in September, which required I use most of my vacation time for the year. As a result, I only had a small amount of vacation hours available for deer hunting.
I'd been hunting three different farms located in Marion County, Iowa. One farm had multiple big deer appearing on camera. Another farm had two good bucks showing up on camera, but they needed one more year to grow. And on the farm where I shot this buck, the camera showed only one big boy, which is the deer I ultimately ended up shooting.
I had photos of this buck from the summer of 2010 and saw him a couple of times from the stand. I estimated that he was in the 150 range. I watched him pass within shooting range twice and I was hopeful he'd make it through the 2010 season.
To my surprise, I had very few photos of this deer the following year. I figured he wasn't around, but not too far away. I hunted the farm with the most potential and had multiple encounters with all the bucks I'd known about from the cameras, but the closest any of them came was 60 yards in the timber.
The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I got permission to use my last three and half hours of vacation time the following Wednesday afternoon. I only had enough time to hunt the farm that had the photo of one good buck as it was closer to home than the other spots. I knew right where I needed to go -- a good pinch point. I had a good feeling about going to that spot.
I got into my stand at around 3:20 p.m. and it was warm with a very slight wind out of the south. After about an hour in the stand, a fawn and a doe strolled through followed by another fawn and doe with a yearling buck following them, grunting. I waited a short while before I rattled and in came another small buck. I waited for him to get out the area before lightly touching the antlers together again.
I heard a twig snap from the direction the small buck disappeared to. I thought it was the same small buck coming back. I grabbed my bow and turned around in the stand and looked for some movement and this giant walked out from the thick bushes, hair all standing up and walking stiff legged, he was heading right into my shooting lane!
I turned back around in the stand and drew my bow. I spotted another good buck standing 25 yards away but not as big! I 'bahhhd ' at the giant three times but he wouldn't stop walking, so I waited for him to quarter away, just before he got back into the bushes.
I let the arrow fly at 12 yards -- the shot was back, but angling up into him, I could see my arrow's fletching just sticking out of the entrance hole. It happened so fast there was no time for buck fever...all the emotions, heart pounding, knee knocking all released after the shot.
I knew I needed to get out of there so I sat until dark then climbed down and quietly walked to the truck. I called my archery hunting buddies for some much needed therapy.
All agreed that I should go home and come back in the mourning. I only got about three hours of sleep during that long night with the scene playing over and over in my head. I knew he was dead but what about the coyotes? Would they bump him? I knew they wouldn't eat the antlers but still I worried about recovering him.
We headed over to the farm at first light and pursued the blood trail. It was minimal at best with it giving out after about 80 yards. We scattered about and I headed back east through steep terrain and on the other side of the first ridge I saw my buck! What a sight!
I'd under-estimated how big this buck is. I had guessed him in the 170's for sure. Well there was certainly no ground shrinkage at all. No complaints!
He is a clean typical 10-point trophy with not a sticker point anywhere. He grossed 195 0/8 and netted in the 181 7/8!
I took the buck to the Iowa Deer Classic and it ended up being the #1 ranked archery typical buck for 2011 and the biggest 10 point as well.