It's southern Iowa, November 2018. The weather is solid. The wind is normal. The outlook is debatable. Why? We haven't seen a deer on this farm over 160" yet on camera or on the hoof. We killed a 140" buck about a week or so ago, but we have continued hunting this farm. It looks too good to leave. Standing corn, flowing creek, timbered fence lines, timbered pond, timbered fingers that all connect into the center of the farm, big bedding to the north, quality land all the way around. Hey, it looked good.
My hunter from MN, a very skilled and accomplished whitetail hunter with a 200-inch plus buck on the wall taken with a rifle, was hunting as hard as you can, dark to dark, day after day. The more time that you put in the stand the better your odds become. Yet, we have no intel on a deer that we are hoping to see, if even such a deer exists. Sometimes, you just have to stay put, pray, and hope for the best. It's hunting. It's free-range whitetails. You truly never know what the rut in southern Iowa can produce.
My hunter had "freedom" on the farm, so he was able to choose his stand out of the three that we had as well as one blind on an elevated platform. He chose the right one possibly on this particular day. The pond stand. The wind was swirling and it was brisk. He had his Heater Body Suit on to battle the whole day. Watching the timbered pond area around this stand, the edge of the standing corn, the neighbor's ground, he was enjoying the view but hoping that a deer would just appear... and that he did. Coming from the neighbor's ditch following right into our timbered area and the wetlands grass/waterway against it, he saw him. A mega giant. A mega typical. A 200"+ typical. The deer was heading right to our fence, he crossed it, and was heading to a shooting lane. 35-40 yards at the opening. Stay right. Stay true. Come on baby. Keep coming.
The buck jumped the fence, continued working through the brush and froze. Not alerted or anything abnormal, but definitely aware. Moments ago, while the terrain allowed for it, my hunter unzipped his Heater Body Suit and got ready to draw. He was going to kill this stud. Where the buck froze, he was 1-2 steps away from the clear open lane. He lifted his head up, and casually turned around, walked to the fence, jumped the fence, and disappeared into the rolling woods and agriculture scenery of southern Iowa. Gone forever. "What just happened," my hunter thought. The buck of his Iowa dreams was 1-2 steps from becoming a reality harvest. His heart sunk. His mind started turning. He didn't have an answer. The buck wasn't spooked. He wasn't alerted. He walked calmly away.
As my hunter told me of his encounter, I thought, "oh no... the Heater Body Suit." It contained his warm scent in there until he unzipped, and with a swirling wind in this bottom, it clearly got to the buck's nose. My hunter was practicing scent control. So, it couldn't have been enough scent to spook him, as that clearly wasn't the case. Was it also something else? Vibrational energy fed to the deer's sixth sense, a sensitivity to vibrational energy dispersed by a predator, my hunter. Who knows...
I checked all of my cameras on the farm (five spread out well), and nothing. I added a camera to the creek line he was heading towards before turning around... I lost that camera when the creek flooded and uprooted the tree never to be seen again. This buck was not meant to be found on camera, let alone a hunter. I hate when this happens... Why can't it be easier to kill these suckers!? So, we finished the year and looked at 2019 as a possible chance to see him again. Yet, how big of a stretch is it for me to expect or even hope to see this deer again. Well,... read Our Third 200" Whitetail Encounter: Part 2 under the DEER STORIES category to find out what happened next.