Iowa- The date was Nov 7th and the cold front we had been waiting for was finally about to hit our neck of the woods. After 5 days of nasty rain, I was about to get the break I needed and boy did it happen in a big way. I hopped in the truck at 3:45 am with a pack full of snacks and extra clothes planning to do a full day sit on a large piece of public land in southern Iowa. I had hunted that piece of property hard last year after figuring out a very good buck, only to blow the opportunity that he presented me. I passed up so many other shooters in his pursuit that I ended up eating tag soup, so this year I was ready to "settle" for something not as impressive.
At this point in the season, I had not been getting the same kind of quality pictures like the year before and was growing rather discouraged, the joys of public land. But it’s the rut!!!!! And I’m in Iowa!!! Arriving to my spot at 5:15, I knew I had a solid 45 minute walk back and wanted to sneak in super quiet. I make it to the stand about 15 minutes before legal shooting light, later than I typically like but didn’t bump a single thing on the way in. I set up on the east side of a large ridge overlooking a wide creek bottom 125 yards below me with some rolling hills and classic southern Iowa washout ditches behind me. As first light appears, some turkeys roosted above me flew south and left my little spot alone. Not even ten minutes later, I can make out what looks to be a good 10 point coming from straight down wind about 120 yards out. I slowly grab my bow and stand up to get in position and he stops just seconds after. "No way he saw me", I think to myself, "he must have caught wind of me even with the scent stick I had burning and blowing in his direction". He proceeds to meander around, circling me instead of sticking to his original route that would have led him down one of the main trails 20 yards in front of my stand. As he moves off out of sight into the thick stuff, I pick up my antlers and do a little rattling. A small 2.5 yr old 7 point immediately comes charging in hot and looking for a fight. Thinking he’s big stuff, he let’s out a little grunt and the 10 point I thought had left snort wheezes twice. At that, the little 7 decides to cut his losses and takes off right under me up over the hill. By now it’s close to 7:30 and I’m confident the area is clear for the moment. I throw my jacket on after finally cooling down and put some extra socks on in preparation for a long day.
After blind calling with a few estrous bleats,a 1.5 year old little basket 6 point walks up in front of me straight down wind where the big ten came from. Thankfully this young guy isn’t too smart yet and decides to browse on what’s left of the acorns scattered across the flat in front of me. Messing around, I give a few contact grunts to watch his reaction. Within seconds, a 2.5-3.5 year old 8 point comes in from my left and begins to circle the little buck. Both are within bow range now and doing a little sparring when I hear a loud grunt behind me on top of the ridge. I turn to see a big, wide, and high 9 point coming straight down to us. He holds up 30 yards behind my setup facing me in the brush with no shot. He starts to walk again and I draw back thinking, "this is my shot". Just as it looks like he will present himself for a clean shot, he takes off sprinting directly under me. Him and the other bucks run off about 80 yards directly in front of me with eyes locked behind and I think, "no way are the damn squirrel hunters doing this to me again". It turns out to be a big coyote. He comes down the hill, runs the bucks off, and does a big circle. On his way back around, I tried flinging an arrow but missed at 60 yards. I hate those things.
Now it’s a little after 8:00 and another small buck just cruises through looking for his lady. I notice some movement down in the river bottom about 250 yards away but cannot make out what it is. Ten minutes later I catch some more movement from the same area and see a deer heading up out of the bottom. I see a brief flash of antlers and figure, "Why not? It’s been crazy so far with bucks every where, what do I have to lose?" I hit the antlers together for a quick 5-10 seconds and instantly, the deer turns his head and lets out one hell of a grunt. I tickle the horns quick again and he B-Line towards me grunting and snort wheezing the whole way in. HERE WE GO!!!!
I stand up, get my bow ready, and by the time he’s at 100 yards I had made up my mind that it’s a mature deer and he’s getting one if the opportunity arises. Walking right down the trail that leads in front of me, I’m solely focused on his body and trying to not look at his rack. He enters a shooting lane on a slow walk so I give him the classic “Meh”. Thwack! Smoked him with a perfect shot! I'm now shaking like a leaf as he runs about 40 yards and piles up! Although he doesn’t hunt anymore and I barely had cell service, I call my dad right away and somehow the call goes through. I give him the full play by play as I just had to share my excitement with someone.I give the buck 5 minutes or so even though I heard his last breath and could see him laying there motionless. Knowing he was at least a big tall mainframe 8 point, I get down and walk up. When I grab his head and roll him towards me, I couldn’t believe the extra main beams he had. No ground shrinkage for him and he still looks bigger every time I look!
Now it was time to get to work. I hike all my gear back to my truck and return to take care of business. Three hours later and the toughest drag of my life but I finally make it back to the truck. I called a friend to help with the second half, and thankfully he was willing to help, otherwise I might have collapse from exhaustion. This was one of my most memorable hunts ever and will forever be etched in my mind, all on public land.
Bow: Matthews Creed
Sight: TruGlo 3 Pin
Broadhead: Montec G5
Clothing: UnderArmour Base Layers, my 15 year old lucky ScentBlocker sweatshirt, Nomad Fleece lined outer layers
Boots: Lacrosse Alpha Burleys
Treestand: Garage Sale special lock on
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