Updated: May 6, 2020
You can't make this stuff up. This story is one that will always remain vivd in my memory. My hunter from Montana was pretty down. He had hit a buck two days prior and just nicked the deer's windpipe in front of the shoulder from a quartering away position. We tracked that deer for two days, and found him standing, alive, and moving just fine. After some discussions about continuing to hunt that farm, we went to try a new farm the next day which was his last day to hunt before flying home. So, we planned on getting him out in the morning for an all-day sit, and see what happens. Could we possibly get another shot opportunity on a shooter on the last day? We were going to try!
Mind you, this was in 2017, the last year that I offered fully guided hunts. That meant that I was driving him to & from the farm. So, that morning, we take off from his hotel, head to the farm, and we are on the property's road frontage when my headlights catch some eyes on the farm side of the road. Being a remote gravel road, I didn't have any traffic behind or in front of me. I stopped and kind of turned to shine the lights that way. I would have smoked this deer with my SUV if it was coming off the farm. Nope, it was a buck just standing there looking at me. What did I do? We stayed right there looking back a him trying to see how big he was. We couldn't decide if he was a shooter or not. He had a nice frame, probably 150-155" frame, but we were after a buck that was bigger. We went into reverse and started backing up. It spooked him just enough to run down the ditch a bit almost towards us, but yet, he wouldn't leave the farm and cross the road. I thought he was just focused on us. This probably lasted 10-15 minutes, or so it seems.
Then, sitting there again, I look at the clock. Man! I have to get my hunter up to the top of the hill to drop him off to get into the stand on time. So, I go drop him off, turn around and come back down the road looking for this buck. There he was!
UPDATE: I found a picture deep in the files... Finally. I've been looking for a while. Here's an enhanced picture off of my iPhone from the car on the road.
Still standing there... At this point, I realize he's a nice buck, but I really couldn't put a true score on him. It seemed that we played the cat & mouse game. I moved. He moved. I stopped. He stopped. Well, I could see at this point, he wanted to leave the farm, but where he wanted to cross the road was exactly where I was sitting in the vehicle. I think he got fed up, and turned around. Within 10-20yds of him was a doe bedded this whole time! She bumped up and ran back into the farm. So did he on her tail. My hunter then texts me saying that a literal booner just about ran him over in the CRP walking in. This buck ran perpendicular to my hunter's path and crossed literally within a couple feet just missing him. That could of been bad... Yikes! I bet he was on a doe. I told my hunter to keep moving and get into the treestand. They might come back. I drove around to the other side of the farm and parked in a few different spots trying to glass as the sun finished rising. Nothing... but uncertainty from my angle. I couldn't see a buck anywhere... where did they go?
I decided to leave the farm and head toward Casey's to get some breakfast pizza and a Mt. Dew. If you've been to Iowa, you know what breakfast pizza I am talking about... It's pure gold. Anyways, at this time, I don't have my trailer and Ranger with me. I started to head back to the hotel a few towns away when I remember my phone vibrating. My hunter is telling me about a buck in front of him. Then he shoots. Buck is still standing. Bleeding. Then he crumbles into this tree that has a big rub on it. The buck expired. He sent me the video he took after the shot. I'm going nuts. 8am. Done. Wow! Southern Iowa is surely a special place where magical things happen in the deer woods. It was the buck from the road! He's definitely a stud. We missed some mass and tine judgements on it. Tank of a body. You can only see so well in the early dark hours before sunrise. I have yet to find the video that my hunter sent, but I am still looking. When I have it, I will add it to this post here... X
I went back to grab the Ranger, came back, drove into the farm to the stand, and boom there the buck was collapsed against that rub. What a pretty sight! I looked the videos again from my hunter who texted me. He got the collapse on video. I will try and upload that at some point when I find that phone. It's pretty cool. For now, we'll stick with the photos. This buck ended up taping out at 165". What a stud! My hunter's biggest buck to date with a cool roadside encounter about two hours earlier.