Updated: Mar 22
If you have not yet read Part 1 yet, you're sort of doing things wrong... Go read Part 1, and then you'll be set to read the final chapter to-date on this professional avoider of a buck, and a mega giant at that at 200"+ typical in southern Iowa.
Heading into the off-season following the 2018 deer season, I was hopeful that we would see this buck again, but I figured our odds were slim to none. I almost didn't lease the farm for 2019. I was sort of a head case about this farm and this mega buck. I didn't know it at the time, but I actually left a few trail cameras out there after the 2018 season. I have too many, and yes, sometimes I forget.
Heading into the summer of 2019, I was hopeful to catch a glimpse of this deer with the trail cameras, but it didn't happen. I even leased a farm down the road 1/2 mile (with a pasture farm in between). I thought, I need to maximize my chances. I got cameras up there as well, and what would you know? Nothing. At this point, I'm thinking maybe he was just a rut back that passed through and is long gone if not dead, poached, or on someone's wall. Yet, I was still hopeful.
I put bowhunters on these two farms, explaining to them the deer that I was hoping for them to see but being completely upfront saying the odds are slim to none. Well, they didn't see him. We killed a 140" ten that was quite tight and heavy with some decent length, missed a few chances on a 150" ten, found an EHD 150" 9, and was assuming that was all these two farms would produce. I let a bowhunter arriving late, due to hunting Kansas and killing a 200" buck there, hunt the two farms and three other farms. He wanted to stand hop, so he didn't sit on either of these two farms long enough to see this buck or any shooter. He headed home displeased with the hunt, but in the back of my mind, I kept thinking... we have good deer around, but it's been horribly tough to find them, especially the mega ghost from the year before. He's probably dead or long gone.
Fast forward to the shotgun seasons in December, we didn't hunt these farms at all, and the corn was finally harvested on the new farm. The old farm (Part 1's encounter) was cut beans. I knew the corn would be the ticket for hunting in Late Muzzleloader season. I knew the neighborhood has shotgun pressure, and that is never good. However, this was our plan. Hunt these farms in Late Muzzleloader.
I get two hunters from Wisconsin in on these two farms, and they liked the look of the cut bean farm over the corn farm. I was favoring the corn farm, but I gave them the choice. They went to the cut bean farm, and realized that tiling was going on there. A lot of human presence on the farm basically forced them to the corn farm. I was okay with that. I favored the corn over the beans. So, I told them to get some blinds out in the corn and face north. Cover the field as best as possible leading up to the only 5-10 acres of woods on our side of the fence before the neighbor's property started. This is where the deer were bedding. They did it all year.
I hit the road early to head home because it was the week of Christmas. I had family in town, and a happy wife equals a happy life. I got about 60-75 minutes down the road, and I get a text from one of the hunters... I was getting into bad service area for 15-20 minutes, so I told him to call me... (excuse the language... he was excited)
He called me. Those two bucks referenced in his last text fed at about 120 yards, the exact spot he needed to get to for a prone 200-250yd shot on the giant just standing there. Over the phone, he said he was a clean 200"+ typical. He used a few other descriptive words that I won't repeat here, but he described the deer exactly how my 2018 bowhunter did... oh man!
IS IT HIM? IT HAS TO BE HIM! I grilled the hunter again that evening for details of the rack just to make sure. Yes. It was him. He was not able to get into a position for a shot. The buck needed to get about 75-100 yards further into the field before he could have made the shot with his high-end muzzleloader. Yet, those two dinks would not feed off. What a night though for my hunter seeing that many good deer, and for me to confirm that the ghost is alive.
FINALLY - he returned. I ran 8 cameras amongst this farm and the other farm in 2019, and no pictures of him at all... None. No sightings until Late Muzzleloader Season. Almost 14 months later after the first encounter, he appears again. Then, he's gone forever.
I shed hunted that farm twice, but I didn't find anything. I walked the corn fields rigorously, but nothing on the ghost. I found one dead head 125" buck and one little spike shed. Needless to say, I will be on these farms again in 2020. I know these farms have good deer, and the potential for a big one is there. I expect for him to go down in size this season, but regardless, he would be a true monarch to harvest. Time will tell, so stay tuned this season. We might just get lucky.