June 26, 2023
After years of working and playing way too hard, in July of 2021 I had a total shoulder replacement. It was a reverse shoulder replacement surgery, which is a procedure that’s prone to be more movement restrictive than a regular replacement. The following morning after surgery, I asked my doctor if I would ever shoot a bow again, and his short and sweet answer was, “We’ll see.”
I took this as a personal challenge to get back to bowhunting. By Oct. 1, 2021, I was shooting again. However, I was shooting less poundage at closer targets. I bowhunted the 2021 season and never found a target to drop an arrow on. By the 2022 season, I had a lot more time to rehab my shoulder and practice with my bow. I became much steadier and had strengthened the shoulder enough to get back into my passion of bowhunting.
Only one buck was on my radar that season. He’d showed up four years earlier as a 2-year-old 6x6. At 3 years old he was pushing 170, so I told my grandson Tyler he was off limits. We had numerous opportunities that season to harvest him, but we knew he had a lot more potential to grow.
When the buck hit the 4-year-old mark he was a tank, and I knew he needed one more year to reach his full potential; but I didn’t think I could control the killer instinct if presented with a shot opportunity. As luck would have it, he never gave me a shot that season. He was only visiting our hunting area and not living there. At this point, I was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs! I kept worrying about all the ways he could meet his demise other than by my hand in fair combat.
Prior to the 2022 season, our son Sammy came and set up cameras, because his dad is an antique and not very good with technology! The buck had moved back in, and we had lots of photos of him. It was game on!
This giant non-typical grosses 213 5/8, and it wasn’t the only buck I had success on in 2022. After my archery harvest, Iowa’s gun season opened. Using a landowner tag and a .350 Legend, I harvested a 183-inch toad of a deer. Then came late muzzleloader season, and a huge-bodied buck with a heavy 10-point frame fell to the smokepole. He grosses 178. God was shining on me, as I had a truly blessed 2022 deer season. I will always be eternally grateful!
A very dear friend of mine told me years ago that even a blind hog finds an ear of corn once in a while. Check out an upcoming issue of North American Whitetail magazine in 2023, and we’ll tell the rest of the story on how this blind hog scored on a giant ear of corn!
SIDEBAR: Sam Collora’s incredible 2022 archery buck (teased here with a blacked-out and silhouetted photo) will appear on the cover of North American Whitetail’s July 2023 “Full Draw Special” issue, which releases on newsstands July 18. Be sure to pick up a copy or subscribe today to read the full-length feature article highlighting Sam’s epic bowhunt. Gracing the cover isn’t exactly a first for Sam Collora. The veteran Iowa whitetailer first appeared affront the magazine in February 1997, then again in October 2002, and for the third time in August 2012. Amazingly, he’s now been featured four times in as many decades, further cementing a career of big buck success that we hope is far from over. Congratulations, Sam!