2015 Iowa Deer Hunt, Epilogue

This has been a fantastic week of deer hunting! Yesterday’s hunt, and the days before that were some of the best deer hunting I have ever had. George has a great deer property that he manages for deer and other wildlife as well. The number and quality of deer on his land is incredible, but it isn’t just the land or the deer that have made this such a wonderful hunt. George really wants me to be successful, and to take a great deer. I could go anywhere, take the ATVs, hunt his stands and tap into his enormous knowledge of deer and his land in my quest for a big Iowa buck. And George’s wife Pat was more than I could ask for as well. A cup of coffee in the morning, and a great supper in the evening. Pat told me when I first arrived that she was going to spoil me, and I think she did.

I first met George at Pheasant Fest in Des Moines, Iowa a few years ago, he knew me by my artwork. But like many of the people who collect my work, they have become friends as well. So thanks to you George and Pat for your hospitality, for sharing your great place with me, and most of all, for your friendship. I will cherish this hunt forever.

2015 Iowa Hunt Day 4

The woods are dead quiet today, and seem even more so after the wild and windy day that yesterday was. It is clear and cool, with a slight breeze from the SW. I am in the same stand as I hunted yesterday. Here is what happened.

7:05: A nice buck chased two does around in the woods about 150 yards to the south. Lots of grunting and chasing sounds. Soon they disappeared but about 10 minutes later one of the does ran past me. I got ready and soon the buck appeared. He came to about 50 yards and stopped behind an oak, waited and watched for a bit, then turned to chase the other doe. After a while I could hear him raking a tree with his horns. I never got a good look at him, but he was certainly a good mature buck.

8:30: A very wide, dark racked 8 point buck just walked on a trail about 50 yards below my stand. I tried to call him, he looked, turned and came towards me for a bit, then turned and left.

8:59: Two bucks chased a hot doe below me (east) and to the side. One buck was a nice mature deer, possibly the one that came close earlier. The other one was a much bigger buck. He was heavy with lots of points, probably some were non-typical. He was limping badly but chased the smaller one away, then stopped directly downwind right where the wide 8 walked. Then he winded me and blew…lots of times. Soon the doe ran and he followed. By far the best deer I’ve seen yet.

9:16: A doe came sneaking by from the same place that the great 10 point was yesterday, in the brush downwind of me. She was followed by a nice 2YO 8 or 9 point. I reached for the camera but stopped when I saw what was following. A very heavy bodied older buck with a very nice rack. I took the shot at about 20 yards and hit a branch on the way in. The arrow deflected back a bit but still good. He ran about 30 yards and dropped, but did not die right away. I can see him but I will wait awhile anyway.

9:20: A 10 point buck just tracked by on the path of the doe. Very thin horns. A 2YO? A yearling?

All morning: Lots of turkeys.

9:50: A 2YO 8 point walked past the deer I shot, smelled the air a bit and then walked directly under my tree.

10:18: A weird buck just passed by. On his left was a long very thin beam that forked on the end. On his right was a long, curved spike.

10:42: Just walked up to the buck I shot. A great buck, a perfect 10, old and heavy. He is a bull-necked, beat up mature buck, full of puncture marks and patches of hair missing from fighting. The shot was a bit far back, but all in the chest. He traveled about 25 yards and probably died in minutes. George and I took lots of photos, I’ll post them later. This is a great old buck, the biggest body I’ve seen on this trip. And although not the biggest rack, I’ve seen two that were bigger, certainly not a deer to pass, and I am thrilled to have taken him.

I will follow this with an epilogue and a summary tomorrow.

2015 Iowa Hunt Day 3

7:35: A great buck just came very close to my stand from behind. He came into the wind, from the north east. He stopped behind a lot of brush, about 25 yards away, got nervous and backed away. He was the best looking deer I have seen so far. A perfect typical ten, dark rack, long tines and high. Not heavy but well proportioned. Probably about a high 150s, possibly more. I know some serious Iowa bow hunters who would pass him, but not me. I would be thrilled to take a deer like that, and had the bow up and was starting to draw when he turned. It was a letdown when he walked, but that’s hunting.

8:12: Two Tom turkeys walked by.

8:40: A yearling buck just walked by on the trail that I hoped the deer would go on. Too bad the nice 10 didn’t do that.

8:58: Four longbeard turkeys went by, about 30 yards away. Lots of gobbles. Also pheasants crowing and snow geese calling overhead.

12:00: No action for a long time now. I am on a ridge top in the middle of three tall but narrow oak trunks, about 12 feet up. The wind is fairly strong and gusty, and the tree is in constant motion. I looked straight up at the swaying treetops once and instantly got vertigo. Don’t think that I’ll do that again. I could almost get seasick, if that’s possible in Iowa. I’m going to give it another half an hour and then call it a morning.

Afternoon: I am hunting the north end of the farm this afternoon, from a tree that I took a doe out of the last time I was here. Here’s what has happened so far.

3:50: I wasn’t even set up, I had not pulled my bow up yet when a yearling doe walked up, 10 yards away and downwind. She knew that something was not right, and so she began to move away.

3:55: A 3YO 4 by 5 buck just came into sight and raked his antlers on a small tree for about 10 minutes. He passed by about 20 yards away. The shot was brushy but very do-able. I passed and took his picture instead.

4:15: Another doe walked under my tree.

Quitting time: Another doe walked passed and went into a picked bean field in back of me. Then as I was climbing down a big white racked buck walked by about 30 yards away. It was too dark and too much brush to see well, but I think it might be the buck that I saw earlier. He came from the direction that the earlier buck had gone. I went back to the house in the dark. Pat made stuffed pork chops for supper, they were great as usual, and George and I visited until after eleven. Tomorrow will come early.

2015 Iowa Hunt Day 2

I am on stand. It is sprinkling, threatening to rain, and with a light south wind. I saw several deer on the way in, including a nice buck tending a doe. He was at least a 2 YO, but the light was low and I couldn’t see any more.

7:22: A very nice buck with tall white horns just ran by about 100 yards away down in the woods.

8:08: a nice buck, at least a 140″ deer, at least a 3 YO, just followed a hot doe in the same direction as the last buck. I tried calling them, they looked but we’re not interested.

8:39: I just got busted by a yearling buck that came up behind me, at about 15 yards. This stand requires constant vigilance for 360 degrees. I don’t want to relax and make that mistake on a big one!

10:25: Another nice buck just chased a doe down in the woods north of me, same area and going in the same direction as the last two. Same deer? Hard to say. I’m thinking about moving a stand down there.

12:00: Quit hunting and set up a new stand 25 yards deeper in the woods.

3:00: a very intense storm blew through, heavy rain & strong winds. Tornados in the area.

Evening:   I am in a new place, good for west winds. I call this place ‘bobcat trail’. A huge silver colored bobcat walked up to my stand here I 2011, the best looking bobcat I’ve ever seen.

4:50: a yearling buck walked by at 15 yards.

2015 Iowa Hunt

Today is the first day of my 2015 Iowa bowhunting. I will be hunting with George Wolf on his land near Osceola, Iowa. I hunted here in 2012, and took a 3 1/2 year old buck on a shortened hunt. I want to stay longer, hunt harder and be more selective this year. When I got here George and I got on the ATVs and took a tour of the property, it looked great. We even saw three mature bucks.

That evening I sat in one of George’s stands. I got there late and saw several deer on the way in. Once on stand I soon had turkeys going to roost to keep me distracted. They were so noisy that I almost missed a different cadence of the crunching of leaves. But I didn’t and I turned to see a totally relaxed buck pass by in back of me at about 20 yards. He was a nice 2 or possibly 3 year old. I got back to George’s house in total darkness. Pat had prepared a supper of bluegills that George caught last winter and we had a good visit until bedtime. I’ll give an update on the hunt tomorrow, stay tuned.

2014 Kansas bowhunt

Day 5, Saturday, Nov 15, 2014

Kansas-Whitetail Deer

Kansas-Whitetail Deer

AM – Walked up to and passed a nice buck as he raked his antlers on a cedar bush before sunrise. Close – about 20 yards – he had no clue. Yearling buck walked by at 15 yards. Rattled in a 160 class buck but he held up at 100 yards, then circled downwind and left. Two 2 1/2-year-old bucks chased a doe right under my tree. Lots of buck grunts, doe bleats, and brush crashing as they chased around my stand and eventually out of hearing distance. Nice medium-size buck crossed downwind and met two bucks in the woods west of my stand, probably the 2 1/2-year-olds. They all confronted and postured but the first buck was much bigger and older and the smaller bucks backed off. I gave a couple buck grunts and a loud estrous doe bleat and immediately all three headed my way.

The biggest one came on fast and stopped in front of my stand at about 15 yards. Lots of brush in the way. When he continued on walking forward, I shot but hit a branch a couple feet in front of my arrow. The buck walked away and disappeared into the brush. I waited a while, then got down to retrieve my arrow. It was clean, no hair or blood. Then I walked over to where the deer stood and there was blood there. As it turned out I had hit a close branch and deflected the arrow and it grazed the back leg of the deer. The fresh snow was ideal for tracking and I followed him for over a mile and for 4 hours. There were occasional blood droplets but I feel confident that he would be okay. By his tracks I found where he had even chased some does and fed in a bean field late in the day.

I considered this to be my Kansas deer for the year, and the end of my Kansas hunt for 2014. I don’t think it would be right for me to continue hunting having wounded a deer.

Day 4, Friday, November 14, 2014

Cold again today but only a slight breeze from the SE.

AM – Lots of does were around today. This morning I saw about 15 does and only one buck, a yearling chasing one of the does.

PM – Saw 2 bucks and 2 does. None close. One of the bucks was a 3-year-old, perhaps the same one I saw a couple of days ago, on the same path.

Day 3, Thursday, November 13, 2014

12 degrees Fahrenheit this morning, but there was less wind, so it was better than yesterday. I passed two small bucks this morning,  and almost got shots at a pair of coyotes at close range,  but they are so sharp. No chance. Evening was quiet,  saw only a doe and her fawn. After dark Bill and  I went to a neighbor’s deer camp for supper and a few beers. They are serious and good deer hunters and have taken two real nice bucks so far. It’s going to get real cold tonight. More tomorrow.

Day 2, Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It was unusually cold with strong winds. I about froze to death and saw little. There was a nice buck chasing a doe near the cabin at dawn. I stalked them and almost got a shot but the day busted me. Passed two bucks in the afternoon. Bill and his son-in-law Tom stopped by to visit in the evening.

Day 1, Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I am on my way to Kansas to bow hunt deer. In 2008 I met Bill Brannan at the SCI show in Reno, Nevada, and he invited me to bowhunt his land in NE Kansas. A year later I hunted his land for the first time. I saw a few OK bucks on that hunt,  but nothing really big. The day after I left however, a monster non-medical got his picture taken under the tree that I had a stand in that morning. The next spring Bill found his sheds, they were massive and had 5 broken points. We estimate that he would have scored around 230 NT. A year later I hunted there again and took a 12 point typical that grossed 185 on the first morning of my hunt. Because of the building project, and a host of other challenges I have not been able to hunt there since. Bill and I have a great many interests in common, and our friendship has grown over the past few years,  and so I will be staying in his cabin at the farm. I have high hopes for this next week, and I’ll keep you updated.

A story about luck

Backyard Buck-Whitetail Deer

Backyard Buck-Whitetail Deer

I have hunted deer for more than 45 years and have read countless deer hunting stories in magazines like ‘Big Buck’ for even more than that. Perhaps it’s an ego thing, but like a lot of guys, I have always wanted to hunt and take a buck that would be worthy of one of these articles. I always assumed the story would highlight my skills as a hunter, or my understanding of deer behavior, or possibly my accuracy with a bow. But like many things in life, it didn’t go as planned. And so I am writing a story about luck.

My story begins on the deck of our home in rural Minnesota three days before the opening day of Minnesota’s bow season. My wife Juli and I were having supper on our backyard deck where we could watch a foodplot to see what deer would arrive at sundown. Several does and yearling bucks were regular visitors and provided constant entertainment as we ate. But the one I was interested in was a 3 ½ year old 8 point. He would score around 150 and was a rare deer in the heavily hunted area where I live. These deer would usually appear on the far end of the foodplot and slowly work their way towards the house as the sun set and darkness settled in. But on this evening, a new buck arrived. Continue reading