October 24, 2023
Emmitt Enyeart faced a dilemma going into the fall of 2023. He didn’t know where to take his younger brother, Easton, for his last year to hunt Iowa’s youth season. Their hunting area in southeast Iowa was being hit hard by EHD and many deer were dying, including several nice bucks they had been targeting.
“It was pretty depressing,” Emmitt says. “Some of the bucks we had been watching or were going to pass had succumbed to EHD on our main farm in Van Buren County.”
On the opening weekend of Iowa’s youth season, the pair arrived a little late to the family farm in Van Buren County Saturday evening. They hunted despite their late arrival, and the two set up on a food plot.
“There was only one mature shooter buck we felt was still alive on our farm that had survived the EHD,” Emmitt says. “So that’s the one I was hoping would come out and give Easton an opportunity.”
About 200 yards out from their position, the buck stepped out. Emmitt whispered to Easton, “there’s the buck we came here for. If he gets closer, take him.”
The buck slowly fed his way toward the awaiting hunters. After looking the buck over with his muzzleloader up and ready, Easton whispered back to Emmitt, “I’m going to pass him up.”
The next day Emmitt and Easton packed up and headed east to hunt a different location. This location is unique and requires a special permit to hunt. Fortunately, Easton had obtained one. Arriving around mid-day, both Emmitt and Easton packed in stands for an evening hang-and-hunt. Overlooking a secluded field, the two were situated in the same tree with Emmitt a few feet above Easton.
As the evening wore on, the first deer to show up were a few does that came out right below the brothers. Soon they fed out into the field where several more does and small bucks were feeding. At 6:15 p.m., Easton looked up to Emmitt and whispered, “there’s a big buck out in the field.” A big oak limb was blocking Emmitt’s view, so he couldn’t quite see what Easton was looking at. Finally, Emmitt found the buck in his binoculars and was shocked at its size!
Emmitt didn’t want to get his brother too excited, so he just told Easton it was a nice buck and to wait until he was a little closer before taking the shot. Eventually the buck made his way within 150 yards. With the buck beginning to walk where there would be no shot, Easton raised his Thompson Center muzzleloader and took aim. At the shot the field cleared, and the giant buck ran back to the timber. “We didn’t see him go down or hear him crash,” Emmitt says. “So we waited a bit before going to look for him, making a mental note where we saw him go in the woods.”
When the two arrived at the spot where the buck was standing at the shot, they didn’t find any blood. To make matters worse, Emmitt and Easton are both color blind. “We both decided it would be best if we’d come back in the morning with our dad to help us find the buck,” Emmitt says.
Arriving back the next morning in the daylight with their dad, Peter, the three hunters began searching for blood. But they found very little. Soon it just turned into a grid search with the hunters looking for a body. After nearly six hours of looking, Peter and Easton searched one area and Emmitt checked a spot where he faintly smelled something earlier in the search.
“As I got closer, I looked in a thick multiflora rose patch and could see white,” Emmitt says. “I thought, could that really be the buck?”
Emmitt couldn’t believe his eyes: it was Easton’s buck! The whole family was in shock when they saw the size of the buck’s rack. Easton Enyeart definitely took advantage of his final youth season by bagging this 180-class Iowa whitetail!