July 24, 2023
Avid whitetail hunter Joey Fountain, of southern Iowa, shot a buck this past season that ties the state’s typical record by muzzleloader.
Joey had been running trail cameras in his hunting area all summer. Finally, on Sept. 8, Joey got pictures of a buck he knew was a shooter. “I bowhunted all fall without any encounters with the buck; he seemingly disappeared on my trail cameras as well,” Joey says. “I honestly thought someone else had gotten him.”
Being a late-season muzzleloader hunter, Joey kept running his trail cameras. On Dec. 31, Joey checked his cameras and the buck had been there just the day before. This gave Joey the confidence to keep after the buck. “I’d been hunting some picked corn fields, but my trail cam pictures were showing the majority of the deer were hitting an alfalfa field. So I decided to change up my tactics and hunt the alfalfa,” Joey says.
On Jan. 1 Joey left to go hunting. The temperature was around 40 degrees, and the ground was a bit muddy.
“I had planned originally to hunt a stand in the timber, thinking I’d cut the big buck off before he entered the alfalfa field in the evenings. As I was walking to the edge of the timber, I looked down in the mud and saw a big track,” Joey recalls. He felt like the track had to be from the big deer, and his gut told him to change his plans.
Sitting in his new location (his father-in-law Fred’s stand), he was overlooking the alfalfa field. At about 3:00 p.m., several does and small bucks began pouring into the field. More deer filtered into the field as the evening went on, and a few were really nice bucks. “I actually had my muzzleloader up following a big, 180-class buck through my scope,” Joey says. “But he never offered me a clear shot.”
Shooting light was almost over when Joey happened to see two does coming over a hill, and the giant was behind them. “I couldn’t believe it,” Joey says. “He looked way bigger than any of the trail cam photos I had gotten of him!”
With time running out, Joey had to act fast. The two does came within 10 yards of Joey’s stand, but the giant buck stayed out in the alfalfa, feeding 130 yards away. Joey knew he had to do something fast. The buck was quartering away from him and slowly eating and getting further away, so Joey stood up, which put the does on alert.
“I calmed myself as best I could,” Joey explains. “I had no choice but to shoot him free handed at 142 yards.” Slowly squeezing the trigger, Joey dropped the buck in its tracks.
“I just sat there and quickly reloaded my muzzleloader,” Joey says. “I didn’t want him to get away, but he was down for good. I finally I called my father-in-law to help me retrieve my buck. Both of us were awestruck at the size of the 10-point rack.”
On March 1, 2023, the Fountain buck was scored officially by Boone and Crockett. With a inside spread just over 24 inches and tines as long as 15 inches, the clean 10-point gross scores 200 inches and nets 191 3/8. This score means the Fountain buck ties the Iowa state record typical by muzzleloader.
Shockingly, the Fountain buck was shot on the exact same day as the buck it ties for the state’s No. 1 spot for muzzleloader typical. That deer is Stuart Morman’s 191 3/8-inch typical, which was taken in Dallas County on Jan. 1, 2005.