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Iowa Hunter Waits 20 Years to Shoot First Buck

Nicholas Soll took the buck of his lifetime in late December, a well-deserved payment after a lifetime of waiting.

Iowa Hunter Waits 20 Years to Shoot First Buck

Nicholas held out for twenty years before taking his first whitetail buck, and the reward was well worth the wait! (Photo courtesy of Nicholas Soll)

Breaking News Bucks 2021

I have been deer hunting in Iowa for 20 years and have never taken a buck. I could write a novel about the reasons why, but ultimately, I despise making excuses for myself.  And when I reflect on the past, I realize that’s all they would be — excuses.

But things finally changed for me on the last day of the second gun season here in Iowa. December 19, 2021, was a very windy and cold Sunday morning of hunting I’ll never forget. In reality, there were only six of us there to walk the woods that day, but it seemed a seventh was definitely in attendance.

Iowa Hunter Waits 20 Years to Shoot First Buck
After taking the buck, Nicholas was given a few trail camera pictures from the neighbors. (Photo courtesy of Jake Ewoldt)

The property we were hunting is a diverse piece. It includes timber, a creek and two ponds with pine trees around them. The deer movement is extremely unpredictable, so as a group we decided to utilize two people for a man-drive. These two were to walk the creek to the South, and the rest of us were to post up in the areas where the deer run most frequently.

I decided to set up on the western side, right along the property line, at the top of hill with a small patch of timber to my south. I had a great view of the whole area from this spot and could see all but one person in our hunting party. As the drive started, I heard some rustling in the timber below and realized it was a couple of does. I didn’t have a clear shot from where I stood, so I decided to try and stalk toward them.


By the time I made it roughly 200 yards, I noticed the does were now running over the hill toward my friend. At that exact moment, I noticed a buck crest the top of the hill. The buck was about 250 yards from me, but I could see the rack as plain as day.


Iowa Hunter Waits 20 Years to Shoot First Buck
Nick had never spotted this buck before, but it only took one quick glance to know he needed to get ready to shoot. (Photo courtesy of Nicholas Soll)

That’s about the time that my friend cracked off. The noise of his gun sent the buck running towards me with even more speed. Immediately the nerves kicked in! The buck was running hard but slowed down for a split second and presented me with a nice broadside shot at about 30 yards.

When I pulled the trigger on my Remington model 870 shotgun, I saw it was a clean lung shot. The buck stumbled a bit, but bravely continued over the next hill and into a field of switch grass to my west. I hurried to the top of the hill and scanned across the field looking for the buck.

He was down about 200 yards away in the switchgrass! I immediately snapped a photo and then I called my dad.

The moment was completely surreal. We had no clue this buck existed, let alone lived on the property! If I hadn’t walked to the other side of the timber that morning, I would not have been in the right position to shoot this extraordinary whitetail. Not to mention, I let my brother borrow my gun for the hunt, so I was using my father’s Remington 870 — the same gun I’d seen him use to drop a deer on one of the first hunts I ever tagged along for. Talk about a full circle; this was a truly perfect and priceless moment.




Iowa Hunter Waits 20 Years to Shoot First Buck
Nick tried his best not to gloat with his trophy. He could clearly see glimpses of jealousy amidst the excitement and support of his hunting buddies. (Photo courtesy of Nicholas Soll)

The great buck’s rack hasn’t been officially measured yet, but I had my taxidermist run some tapes for a quick “green” score. The result is a gross score of 191 inches!

I’m so grateful to everyone in my hunting party for being a part of this amazing hunt, but ultimately, I owe all of this to the grace of God. This is a memory I will cherish for the rest of my life. My hope now is to try and pay it forward and help set up chances for others to have the same opportunity that I’ve now had. This is truly the buck of a lifetime. He was well worth the 20-year wait!

Iowa Hunter Waits 20 Years to Shoot First Buck
After taking the buck, Nicholas learned that the neighbors had been hunting this buck hard! (Photo courtesy of Todd Ketcham)

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