Although I have been hunting Whitetail deer for nearly 20 of my 40 plus years; I have had very few opportunities to take a real trophy buck. My brother was lucky enough to shoot the buck of a lifetime at the age of twelve. It was a 183 and ¼ inch Boone and Crocket. People stopped by camp all night to take pictures of his deer. After years of talking about a trophy Whitetail hunt, my buddy Olaf and I decided to book a hunt in Iowa. My goal was simple; take what I considered to be a trophy deer (something in the 185 inch to 200 inch class deer), and beat the monster my brother shot, or go home empty-handed.
Our outfitter Spike Dicemen, of Super Buck Outfitters, told us we should come the last week of the archery deer season, as the best part of the rut would be in full swing and the cold weather would keep the deer moving throughout the day. The weather reports coming out of Iowa in the weeks prior to our departure seemed to be exactly what we had been told to expect. Then, four days before we were scheduled to leave, the weather in Iowa warmed drastically to the mid to high 40’s.
When Olaf and I arrived in Battle Creek, Iowa, on November 12, it was 45 degrees outside. Most of the snow was gone from the early November storms, and it had been raining for the last two days. Sunday morning, Spike picked us up at the airport, and we could tell he had a rough time the week before. Spike told us the weather was not going to help us, and it looked like things were not going to change until mid-week. We met up with our guide, Whitey, Sunday afternoon, and he took us out to see the country where we were going to be hunting for the next few days.
Olaf picked out a spot that looked promising and would sit up in one of the Gorilla tree stands. I decided to set up on the edge of a field several hundred yards from Olaf. The following morning, I heard a scream of joy about 8:30 am from Olaf’s direction and figured “one down one to go,” knowing it couldn’t possibly be this easy. Upon picking up Olaf that evening, it was quite a letdown to find that several resident hunters had noticed our setup, and jumped his spot. Olaf had to watch them drag out a 190-200 class buck that he had spotted about 500 yards out and was waiting for a shot.
The afternoon of the second day, Spike decided to take us to another area he felt was more promising, and one he had exclusive rights to. Spike and I packed up everything while, Whitey went to collect Olaf from his tree. When we met that evening, we decided that we would split up, and go one on one with a guide each. The temperature had started to drop slightly, and there was some precipitation in the forecast. I was set up in a portable ground blind on the edge of a large oat and hay field. I spent a few extra minutes tying in some additional brush to the blind. Tuesday afternoon produced very little in terms of shooter bucks, but I did see enough to want to return to the blind on Wednesday morning.
Wednesday morning before daylight, I had a buck thrashing the brush 40 yards behind my blind, but I never got to see him. All I saw was the rustling of the brush, and I heard his antlers rubbing on a tree or something. That afternoon before heading out, the farmer who owned the property showed me a set of very large sheds that he had found from last year. He said that this buck was still around and much bigger this year. That really got my heart pumping and got me excited. Despite my initial excitement, when I set out that afternoon, the rest of the day was pretty slow. I only saw one little spike. The weather front that was predicted finally started moving in, and it had begun to sleet and snow, so things were looking up.
On Thanksgiving morning, it was 15 degrees out and we had two inches of fresh, wet snowfall overnight. As I woke up, I could smell the fresh coffee brewing and the fire burning in the hearth. After filling our bellies, Whitey and I laid out a plan for the day and felt that the deer should really start to move with the weather changing. He was going to drop me off and then go and set up a tree stand in another spot for the afternoon hunt.
I expected to see a lot more activity that morning with the change in weather, but all I saw were several does just before dawn. I was honestly starting to get a little discouraged. The temperature had risen to about 25 degrees, and even though I had on about five layers, I was still freezing. My hands were so cold I could not feel the tips of my fingers. Around 7:30 am, I heard two loud grunts a quarter mile away. This was followed every three to five minutes by a single loud grunt over the next 25 minutes. Despite the cold temperature, the grunts began to warm my hunting soul. I waited until things quieted down, and blew a single grunt from my call. I waited a couple of minutes and did it again, then quit. 15 minutes later, the spike I saw the day before came out of the tree line and was looking around. He stuck his nose to ground and began feeding. Then suddenly, the spike looked to my right, and I turned to see what he was looking at. A huge buck came trotting across the field toward me. He stopped directly in front of my ground blind, just 35 yards out, and standing broadside to me. He looked directly at me, and I froze. He then turned his attention to the spike. When he did, I immediately grabbed my bow from the stand and drew back on the monster. I concentrated on making sure to put my sight pin on his vital area and not to look at the rack. Looking at racks was something you did after the deer was on the ground and when he was on the wall, I told myself. I believed this was the buck that produced those huge sheds the farmer had shown me the day before. My frozen fingers squeezed my release, and I watched the arrow go into the buck behind his right shoulder. He immediately bucked like a wild rodeo bull and ran off through the wheat field before dropping less than 80 yards from where I hit him.
I sat in the blind for probably thirty minutes, now sweating despite the cold air temperature, not really believing what I has just done, or really knowing how truly large this buck was. Every ounce of my being just wanted to sprint towards the animal, but I knew I had to wait. The excitement finally overcame me and I literally threw the blind over and cautiously walked over to find that I had bagged the monster I had come to Iowa for.
After tagging him, I wandered back to the farm house to wait for Whitey, who was to arrive around 10:00 am. When I got there, I told the farmer and his wife of my success. She said, “You got old Chuck!” They were almost as happy as I was.
Whitey arrived shortly after ten and I told him, “We’ve got a problem.” After a short pause I said, “I don’t think this deer will fit in your truck!” Whitey went nuts. Looking the deer over, Whitey asked me if I had any idea what I had. I didn’t, and it took several weeks for it to sink in.
The deer was a 14 point non-typical buck with double drop tines. He field dressed at 270 pounds and scored 204 Boone and Crocket. The deer was six years old and there was not an ounce of fat left on him. He was rutted right out. My Rage Broadhead performed flawlessly. It was very important to me that this deer was taken cleanly with one shot. It is my belief that as hunters, we all owe the animals that much, especially a true king of the forest like this.