February 01, 2023
Hank Billings is a second-year bowhunter, and his first-ever buck, taken on Nov. 4, 2022, will be a hard one to beat.
Hank got into the archery game later in life, but with the help from friends Paxton Hawkins and Tyler Jairl, Hank bagged a doe during his first season. With the 2022 season underway, rumors of a big buck in the area began floating around.
The rumors were confirmed in early October when Tyler began getting trail cam pictures of the buck in his hunting area.
“It was a rainy, cold evening, and I’d gotten off work around 4:30,” Hank says. “Not the most ideal conditions to go set in a tree.”
Bowhunting with his friend Tyler that evening, the two had a short talk. Tyler told Hank this would be his only hunt he’d have the greenlight should the big non-typical come by. The two then split up and went to their stands.
“I was on stand around 5:30, and I caught movement of a deer,” Hank recalls. “It was a buck, and I instantly recognized him when I noticed a long drop tine.”
Slowly picking up rattling antlers and barely hitting them together got the giant buck’s attention. Hank thought, this is really going to happen. When Hank banged them together harder on the second sequence, the buck’s attitude changed as he was coming on a fast walk to the hunter’s location.
“At a mere seven yards, I stopped the buck for a shot,” says Hank. “Before he would disappear in the thick brush.”
Initially questioning how good his shot was, Hank waited until dark before meeting up with Tyler. The two left the woods for a bit to go help another friend drag out his 160-class buck, not saying anything to anyone. Upon returning to Hank’s stand, the rain had washed away much of the blood trail. The darkness made the search even more difficult, so the pair began searching in the direction the deer ran after the shot.
Shining a light up ahead in the field, Hank could see the glistening of the white rack; the buck was down within 150 yards! Hank’s great Iowa buck scores 216 inches.