March 20, 2023
After a two-year hunt for a giant ghost-like buck in northeast Iowa, Brandon Michel is one happy bowhunter. During the 2021 season, Brandon received trail camera pictures of the giant, but even then the buck never showed up on camera until late October.
“I was walking out from hunting one morning in 2021,” Brandon remembers. “And I decided to check a trail cam from a spot I chose not to hunt that morning. Of course, the giant walked right by where I was thinking of going; I’d chose the wrong stand that morning.”
On Halloween of 2021, Brandon’s dad, Jack, and Brandon decided to try to intercept the buck. They split up that evening and went to different stands. It didn’t take long for action to start.
“I was on stand for a short while,” Brandon states. “And I looked up and saw two does heading my direction. In tow was the big buck, and I readied myself for a shot. At 25 yards the buck was in range but shielded by a wall of brush. I actually came to full draw, but a shot never presented itself.”
The buck disappeared until late January; that’s when Brandon got confirmation from one of his trail cameras that he’d made it through the hunting season. In September of 2022, some neighbors that were also aware of the buck showed Brandon velvet footage of him.
“I knew instantly it was him, and he’d added more trash to his rack,” says Brandon.
Brandon began receiving pictures of the buck in late October again. On Oct. 23, Brandon and his brother placed a new stand in a location they felt was ideal for the giant. On Wednesday Oct. 26, the wind was right for the set, so Brandon decided to give it a go.
“I had originally taken off Monday and Thursday to hunt, but I had a little time and decided to go,” says Brandon. “It was around 5:45 p.m. when a pack of coyotes started howling near me, and I felt my evening was going to turn into a coyote hunt. I just happened to look in the opposite direction and I heard something rubbing trees and spotted the giant 100 yards away.”
Brandon grunted twice and got the buck’s attention, which seemed to anger him. The buck continued violently rubbing trees as he headed toward Brandon.
As the buck made his way through some standing corn, Brandon continued losing sight of him. At one point the buck was heading away from Brandon, so Brandon grunted again, turning the buck in his direction.
“At 35 yards I came to full draw and gave a mouth bleat to stop him, and then I sent a Rage through both his lungs,” says Brandon. “He bolted and disappeared into the standing cornfield. I instantly called my dad and frantically told him ‘I got the big one!’”
After a couple of his friends arrived, they helped Brandon follow the blood trail.
“They sent me into the standing cornfield first with the spotlight,” Brandon says. “As I got closer, I saw the back half of the deer and instantly began screaming and running back out to celebrate! The three of us dug him out of the corn and briars and finally got a better look at the rack. It was incredible.”
With nearly 50 inches of mass, this northeast Iowa bowkill green gross scores 215.
Watch Brandon relive his hunt with Associate Editor, Blake Garlock, on our YouTube channel now.