Corey Klein Buck: 228-Inch Non-Typical Iowa Giant
November 24, 2014
I started my bowhunting career in the mid-1980s, while living in Jacksonville, Florida. My friend Bruce Hall and I used to drive to Osceola National Forest on the weekends to camp out and hunt deer. That's where I learned how to bowhunt and improved my ability to predict deer patterns and movements.
My wife and I moved to Iowa in 1987, because that was where our family was and we'd just had our first child, Cody. Immediately I found myself in a different bowhunting world.
At the time we moved, I had no idea how massive Iowa bucks would be compared to those back in Florida. Even then, competition for good private hunting access in Iowa was pretty stiff. So when I was lucky enough to get on a piece of good land back in 1992, I was willing to do anything to keep being able to hunt it. In this case, that meant being willing to share the land with other bowhunters.
I've found over the years that if a good buck is living on this property, one of us usually knows about him. Not only are there seven other bowhunters on the farm, several run trail cameras. Despite this surveillance of the property, however, every year at least one "new" good buck will pass through at some point, because of the number of does living there.
I don't use trail cameras myself, because I feel that if I did, I might end up spooking too many deer going in and out to check photos before the season. Instead, I just focus on does and their bedding areas, travel routes and food sources. I know eventually the bucks will go to those places in search of female companionship.
On this property I have five regular stand setups for all of the wind variables. I also have a Lone Wolf climber, which I love; deer can't pattern you as easily when you're really mobile. Most of my stand locations are about a half-mile hump from my parking spots.
While scouting and hanging stands in August, I decided I wanted a setup on top of a particular hill that's thick with multiflora rose and oaks. Thanks to the great cover and food in such a small area, a lot of trails intersect there. The spot also features an old logging road for easy access to my stand.
I saw there were many good trees to put a stand in, but I wanted one that would give me the best vantage point for all of the trails that intersected. I finally picked an oak that wasn't very large but had a small hickory right next to it, helping to break up my outline and camouflage me better.
The problem with this oak was that I knew I could hunt there only on a north wind. It took me over an hour to convince myself that I needed to put a stand there anyway and just accept the wind limitations.
When archery season finally came, I had no vacation time; I'd used all of it recovering from surgery on my right foot. I usually take vacation during bow season, but as I couldn't in 2013, I was limited to hunting after work and on my normal days off.
I shot a few does in October. On this property the landowner requires us to take out some each year. Of course, I don't mind, because it's always great practice and good eating.
As for the hilltop stand, I never hunted it in October, because I never had a good north wind when I could get away. Then, in early November, at another stand I passed up a 140-class 10-pointer. He was the first deer of that size I'd ever passed, but I did so because I knew there were bigger bucks out there. Of course, when I let him go I wondered if it was the right decision.
As November went on, I saw no more shooters and found myself becoming burned out. Getting past the middle of the month, I knew the rut was starting to fade; even small bucks were hard to find. But the thought of not at least continuing to try kept me from quitting.
On Thursday, Nov. 21, I normally would have had to work overtime. Luckily, though, I got off at 1:30 p.m. I remember looking out the window at work and saying to myself, What a beautiful evening to take a buck. It was a gray day, and with the wind out of the north, I knew which stand I wanted to hunt. So I drove the 13 miles to the property and made the half-mile walk to the hilltop stand, seeing no deer along the way.
When I'd settled into my stand, I started thinking about events of the last couple days. I said a prayer for my brother-in-law's sister, Maylo, who had just died of cancer.
Only about a minute later, I caught movement off to my right, about 70 yards out. Focusing on the motion, I saw nothing but antlers coming toward me down the old logging road. As the huge buck made his way toward me, I slowly grabbed my bow, then carefully maneuvered it past the small hickory to my right. When I did, my arrow fell off its rest. Fortunately, though, it came to rest on my arm, and I immediately was able to put it back into place.
The monster buck kept making his way closer to me, and as he walked, I tried to count points. But there simply were too many. I do remember noticing a drop tine on the left side.
Ahead of the deer I picked a spot where I'd take the shot. He kept coming, and the wind was good. When the giant was 30 yards out and still coming, I drew and waited.
He almost got to the spot where I wanted to take the shot, but then stopped short. Now 16 yards away, he looked right at me, 20 feet up in the oak.
Knowing the opportunity was as good as it was going to get, I released my 2413 aluminum arrow tipped with a 125-grain Thunderhead. Instantly the buck dropped. It was a spine hit; he must have crouched when I released, or perhaps in my excitement I simply misjudged my aiming point. Regardless, I quickly nocked another arrow as he tried to get up, and this one hit him in the vitals. In short order he was done.
It was now 4:20 p.m., meaning I'd spent only 65 minutes in the stand. I excitedly got down out of my tree and lifted the antlers. I tried counting points and admired the unique holes in the main beams. I couldn't believe it. At age 53, and after 30 years of bowhunting, I'd finally shot the buck of a lifetime.
My first phone call was to my wife, Connie. "I just shot the biggest buck of my life," I told her.
"I can tell!" she responded with a laugh. I guess my excitement was hard to hide.
I then tried calling my brother, Scott, but his phone wasn't working. So I went to the farmer's house. No one was at home. With no one else around to ask for help, I'd have to get the buck out by myself.
I got the deer cart out of the truck and went to get him. The weight of the big-bodied buck pulled me all the way down the hill on my backside, because I had to protect my foot from the chance of being reinjured. But that was hardly a bother.
Once I had the deer loaded into my truck (which took a lot of brute force and configuring), I went to my brother's house. When I got there, I told him I'd taken a doe. When he opened the tailgate, he couldn't believe what lay before him.
The next night, we invited the other hunters on the property to come over and see the big buck. Everyone congratulated me and shook my hand as we all admired the deer. As far as we know, out of the seven other hunters and who knows how many trail cameras on the place last season, no one had seen this buck before he walked into my life. All I really know is that after shooting him, I couldn't sleep for two days.
Other hunters keep asking me how I remained so calm and kept my composure to make the shot on this deer. The truth is, from the moment I spotted him until he had an arrow in him was a span of maybe only 40 seconds; there wasn't much of a chance to think about it before shooting. That's one of the great things about hunting: You just never know what will happen on any given day.
At the 2014 Iowa Deer Classic my trophy proved to be the biggest entered, with a net non-typical score of 228 5/8. The 22-pointer has 47 1/8 inches of abnormal points to go with a net typical frame of 181 4/8 as a typical 5x5. Not bad for a deer I had no idea even existed until seconds before I shot him!