August 31, 2022
By Kayla Hepler
Bow season 2021 started out how it usually does for me: my husband and the rest of the family having good hunts, but I didn’t. Whether I saw little deer movement or messed up the shot opportunity, my bowhunting experiences prior to the 2021 season had been tough.
Nov. 7, 2021, will be a day that my husband and I never forget. It was a warm and sunny, about 75 degrees. My mom watched our 2-year-old so my husband, Travis, could take me out hunting. Travis took me to the location where he had shot his bow buck just two days prior. While he was looking for a good tree for us to use for our climbers, we heard kids laughing, playing and screaming less than 200 yards away. He then found a tree straight enough for us to climb, but the tree was only about 10 inches in diameter, and we were both supposed to climb up it.
I had never in my life used a climber! My husband did his best to teach me, but it was pretty scary for me as I tried to climb the tree. I climbed the tree, but I only got about 10 feet off the ground. Travis kept saying the setup wouldn’t work, because of the heat, noisy kids and only being 10 feet high. He wanted to leave, but I requested that we stay.
About 20 minutes later, Travis spotted a big buck chasing a doe about 100 yards out and heading toward us. Travis looked at me and said: “Whatever you do, don’t look at his rack.” They made it to 75 yards from us, and the doe decided to lay down and the buck did the same.
At this point, I still hadn’t seen his rack. The doe got up and started to walk up the hill, and the buck then got up and made a rub. With his head vigorously moving around, I saw his rack. I had never seen a wild buck that big in my life!</p.
The deer headed away from us, and Travis was trying to figure out what to do. I asked that he do whatever he could to turn the deer, because if he didn’t, they were going to disappear.
Travis grunted with his mouth. The buck did not respond, so he did a snort wheeze. That caught the buck’s attention! He stopped, turned around and started heading right toward us. It was as if my husband was reeling him in. Travis kept telling me to not look at his rack and to get ready. I was ready and just waiting for the perfect moment to pull my bow back, praying I wouldn’t screw the shot up.
When he was about 40 yards away, I decided to pull my bow back; and then he came within 10 yards. As the buck got closer my arms got tired, and I had to let down and draw my bow again. Then, I let the arrow fly!
I have never seen the “death kick” in person, but when my arrow entered his body, he kicked hard. He ran out of sight, and I immediately start crying tears of joy and shaking like a leaf!
We looked where I shot the buck and found a little blood, but nothing crazy. We came back to look for him with the help of my brother a couple hours later. We found some blood, but it wasn’t much, and we also didn’t find the arrow. So, we backed out.
That was one of the longest nights of my life, and I had to work the next day, so I wasn’t able to go look for my deer. My husband and a couple buddies went looking for him the next morning. They had only walked about 50 yards before someone spotted his white belly! We had walked so close to him the night before, but it was too dark to see him.
That was the best phone call I have ever received while at work! And, thankfully, they let me leave early to take pictures with my buck of a lifetime. I didn’t realize how big of a deer he truly was until I held his rack in my hands. He has a whopping 22 scorable points and net scores 176 7/8 non-typical. My buck won first place at the 2022 Iowa Deer Classic for Women’s Archery Non-typical category.
I decided to name my buck after my cousin, Mike Ungs, who passed away the night I shot the giant. I call him “Ungsamanga,” and he truly is a giant deer.