2017 was a unique year with highs and lows. Southern Iowa, especially around Ottumwa, IA and further south, suffered a horrific drought. I lost all of my food plots. The creeks dried up. I was toast. Luckily, I was able to salvage the year in Zone 5 due to a couple of good friends and someone willing to share access with me and my guys.
This deer is special as it was the first 200" that I got on trail camera. Imagine the surprise
I checked this camera on the 4th of November, and I was instantly shocked. A new buck. A new mega giant. All I noticed first was the high number of points and the big triple beam. Wow! I was checking my MicroSD card on my iPhone Lightning reader in the vehicle. I accidentally missed the photo of this deer coming back into frame and heading to the bedding area behind him. I thought that he had left and went into the cut corn field to feed and wander. I was heartbroken. I did, however, think there's a chance he's around. If I remember correctly, it was a day or two later when I thought that, "hey, let me look at that card again." There it was! He came back in that night and went to the bedding area.
Okay! Let's get after him!... This spot was secluded. I mean, this was one of the toughest stands to get in and out of without alerting and spooking deer. I got a hunter back in the stand, but we didn't see anything. I moved him somewhere else, and he shot a beautiful 150"+ old monarch of a brute. I finally decided to move someone else into this nearby stand... the kicker? I moved my guy into there at 9:30 in the morning. The buck was shot by 10:30am, an hour later. Luckily, the bedding area held some does, and this guy came in to see them. It was a marginal wind, actually out of the SE that day if I remember correctly. Buck came in downwind, and somehow didn't smell my hunter.
My hunter called me, clearly shaken, and says, "I got the big one." I hurried in there about 30 minutes after the shot with my Ranger. I drove to the edge of the lane, stopped, and walked to my hunter in the tree. I told him to tell me what happened, direct me to where the buck was standing. We found blood, and we got moving. He stayed behind me and to my side. The buck was heading toward this creek embankment. I remember as we walked up onto it, I looked down, and there he was at the bottom, about 20' down. He rolled down the embankment. We got down as quickly as I could. My hunter had no idea how big this deer was. I'm in shock at this point, a true giant. Then the work began.
I didn't want to gut him down there because the stand could be hunted again. But, we didn't have a choice. I told my hunter to get working on him, and I will go back and get the Ranger. I drove the Ranger down through the woods. Luckily I had two tow straps to use to pull him up this 20' embankment. The downfall was the embankment had a washout lip. The deer kept getting caught on it. This deer was huge, like really huge. This deer was still well over 250lb at this point. We somehow managed to get him over the lip, but now we had to get him into the back of the Ranger. My hunter, though young enough to help lift him with me, had a herniated disc or something like that. Yet, he helped, and I pulled with all of my strength from the bed of the Ranger. There was an audible pop. It was me. The pain shot down my leg through my lower back and hip. I was only 27! Too young for this crap to happen! Yet, we got him in, and the excitement caused me to ignore the pain enough to continue on.
We then finished getting loaded up, and we headed out back to where I parked for us to take nice photos to try and do this deer justice, which was a very hard task. What an absolute giant, and one I'll never forget. There is more to this story and the hunter, of which I have shared and will continue to share with clients as we drive around southern Iowa during the season. It's a deer I won't soon forget. A true mega...
Special thanks to the people involved for the investment of time & energy as well as generosity that lead to this possibility becoming a reality back in November of 2017. Couldn't have done it without you guys! #forevergratefulandappreciative