As I lay awake in bed two hours before my 4:00 am alarm is set to sound, each minute feels like an hour.
Each minute spent lying there fighting the urge to get up right then because of the anticipation of what daylight will bring. Every deer hunter knows this feeling, the feeling that the magical day of November 1 brings to us. I truly believe if we all lost calendars, a hunter would be able to tell you the second he wakes up that it is the 1st. I don’t know if it’s the cool, crisp feel in the air, or the rainfall of dead leaves hitting the ground but the urge to be in the woods is undeniable.
Although a lot of you out there had this exact feeling with the changing of the month, but I don’t know that there was a single person out there with this feeling more than me. This year is a very special year for me. I tried to describe it best in a Facebook post that I put up my very first day in the stand this year. I took a picture of the area I was hunting with the caption ” Most people would look at this view and think it’s just another tree stand, just another field, but for me this is a very special view. This is the day that a 15 year dream of sitting in a tree stand in Iowa with a bow in my hand came true.” So here’s the scoop. I’ve grown up and lived in Ohio my whole life. Unfortunately, I come from a part of Ohio where the deer hunting is not very good. Years ago I had a dream that I wanted to go to Illinois to guide deer hunts. Im proud to say that I spent a lot of great years doing that, and made some amazing friends along that journey. The other part to that dream that I had was that I want to live and hunt in the best place in the country. This year I was lucky enough to be hired by Killer Gear and got to move where of all places…? Thats right Iowa.
The first few days in November were fairly slow for me but I was still seeing plenty of deer to keep me firmly planted in a tree stand. I got to experience several exciting encounters such as rattling in a beautiful 145-150 inch 9 pt charging to the base of my tree before I could hang up the rack. With Cameron, one of my good friends from Ohio coming to video me on the 5th, I was being extra picky. The evening of the 5th started to make me understand the rumors I had heard about Iowa. It was like a light switch turned on. The bucks were on their feet out searching, when all of the sudden a buck that appeared like a ghost shows up. I know this deer. He is a giant body, what I believe to be 5 1/2- 6 1/2 year old deer with a messed up left side. This buck would be pushing 160 inches as an 8 pt with a matching side as his right. Needless to say, Cameron about pushed me out of the tree as I let Lefty walk through my shooting lanes and out of our lives. I looked back at him, with his jaw dropped he said ” are you kidding me?” to which I said ” it’s early, the best is yet to come”. As the days progressed, that statement couldn’t have been more true.
Each day brought new bucks to our eyes. We were hunting hard, sitting all day. For good reason I might add, we were seeing 25 or more bucks a day. Im not talking about the bucks you need a spotting scope to see, I’m talking about being inside the timber with maybe 100 yard visibility around us. Simply put, it was unreal… Iowa was living up to the hype. With several great bucks right around the 150 inch mark passing by us, Cameron, and myself, if I’m being honest, were starting to question my sanity for letting these deer walk. At 1:15 that afternoon the madness finally made sense. Here he comes, a mid 160’s 10 pt at less than 30 yards. I grab my bow as he is shredding trees at 25 yards with vitals behind brush. Two steps is all I need for him to step into the shooting lane and he will be backstraps on the grill. After what seemed like an eternity, he took the two steps, followed by 15 more as he ignored my desperate attempts to make him stop. Just like that, the roller coaster of emotions that is bow hunting had me sitting on broken tracks at the bottom. The next few days brought plenty of action and great deer, just not that one I couldn’t live without.
November 10 the weather decided to rub salt in my unhealed wounds of the close call with the mid 160’s deer I came so close to getting. Temperatures in the mid 60s and wind that was made for flying a kite. Deer action came to a screeching halt, with only one small buck breaking the monotony of watching the trees sway. We were living for the last hour of light. The winds were supposed to drop of substantially, so we knew if the 10th was the day, it was going to be the last hour. That hour did not disappoint. The wind died down and temperatures started to slowly drop. Followed was the sound of a buck grunting and chasing does just out of sight. My eyes, burning holes in the trees trying to do my best to pick out a deer from where the chaos happened just minutes prior. I pull my binoculars up and there he is, 75 yards away making a scrape. This is a buck I call flyer, for a very simple reason, he has a 10 inch point coming off the back of his g2. I looked at Cameron and said ” you better get the camera rolling, it’s fixing to happen”. Knowing these bucks exit out of a tractor path right where he is standing, I used a scent drag with doe estrus and laid him out a path of temptation he couldn’t resist. He hit the scent trail and read the script. He stepped into my shooting lane at 28 yards broadside and I turned my xpedition bow loose. Immediately I knew what I did, and I knew I was going to be losing a lot of sleep. Disgusted with myself, I look at Cameron and say ” he didn’t fully stop when I let it go, I hit him back”. With no doubt at what happened, we gathered our stuff and took the long way out and around to leave him lay. I’ve seen these hits before, I know this rage xtreme did the job and the deer is going to expire, we just have to be smart and leave him alone. With high hopes of finding this deer we started the tracking 19 hours after the shot. This is when I was reminded how fast bow hunting can humble you with heartbreak. To my surprise I look up to see him crashing through the trees. With mixed emotions ranging from being angry at myself, to questioning every decision made, I decided to give him the rest of the day and night.
The cold 28 degree morning had finally showed up with the sun after another sleepless night. The heavy frost covered grass glistened in the sun and made my hopes of finding blood a near impossible task. As the frost started to melt, our search yielded nothing but one single piece of white hair. I looked at Cameron and said ” this would make sense if this is his, this is the only place theres a gap in the fence”. After pulling up an aerial photo we both agreed where he probably went if that hair was his. Sure enough, 100 yards past the fence he laid in his final resting place. The emotional roller coaster was back on its highest point and reminded my why I love this sport so much.
Last modified: January 4, 2017