That is it, folks. Our 2022 rut bowhunting came to an end with an average of 2-3 shooters encountered per hunter while on stand with arguably 75% easy-to-fair shot opportunity. Unfortunately, we had two blown shots, one good shot & recovered, and many missed opportunities. This is the nature of the DIY+Semi-Guided Hunt method. Having done this type of hunt for five years now, I have to admit, there is a lot to be desired with the time, money, and effort that we put into this. Of course, the deer have to cooperate, and yes, luck is relevant. That is what deer hunting is even in Southern Iowa. Yet, it was a super fun bow hunting section for us and a very high rate of encounters and opportunities for only a handful of hunters this year due to almost closing MDLO down completely (see other blog post back in late summer 2022).
We had one hunter leave two days early (due to the semi-guided hunt not being his "cup of tea") who should have easily shot the deer below in this video at 50yds with his crossbow before he would have entered the neighbor's wood line. All he had to have done is listen to me and finish his hunt. This should have been shot #4. This one hurts the most for me.
We blew a shot on this deer shown below from 30yds in a saddle setup I directed my hunter to take-on. This was not the first shot opportunity he had, but it was the most mature deer according to him. He's an old tanker, and you can easily see such. We lost blood on this buck about 400yds in when we figured coyotes jumped him and ran him. He was in his bed. Not sure if he would have died or not based on the shot, but we will never know. This particular hunter hunted his rear off, and he deserved to find his deer. I feel bad for him. Super dude!
We smoked this deer despite it being a 4 year old on my hunter's first sit. When the juices get flowing it's hard to hold back. Anyway, it's a nice 8 that read the script and put on a short but good show. This deer was hit in a jugular, and the blood shows.
I don't have a trail camera photo or video of the other buck we hit and lost, but my hunter swears it was a 165"+ deer. That track went 750yds from the hit, and we lost blood. This deer should be well alive - no arrow, plenty of watery muscle blood, no lung, no heart, no artery, no beds, one or more good clots, and a lot of life in him hours later. It was a 15yd quartering-away shot where he turned more closed as the shot happened.
We had five or more 160"+ deer encountered without shots presenting themselves (debatably), and likely eight or more encounters with 150-class deer that should have definitely lived if they were not 5-1/2 years old or older. Hard to tell when they're moving through on a hot doe. Again, that is hunting!
We have an Iowa resident hunter potentially coming in between now and gun season, but I have yet to hear from him on his plan of arrival. I also might have a late season bowhunter or two, one of which is a returning 2022 rut bow hunt client who wants a second chance. I am hoping we can have some continued success, but when the rut is done, it's a shot in the dark as to what the deer will do... back to minor patterns and bucks looking for last hot doe with an emphasis on food.
Until then, that is a wrap on the 2022 archery season for MDLO. It was fun, fast, and leaves me a bit hungry for improved success into 2023 and 2024. Stay tuned for more blog posts including one about 2024 hunt type changes that I think a lot of people will appreciate.