The 180-185" Drop-Tine Giant: One that shouldn't have gotten away
It's May 19th, 2018, myself and a good friend of mine, Clifford Martin (owner of Radix Hunting & Stic-N-Pic) are planting a 5-acre soybean plot in south-central Iowa. This is the largest plot that I have ever done. It took darn near all day. As I broadcasted the 5-acre bean plot by hand, I kept thinking that I need to get some brassica blend plots in here as well in August to give us an additional food source to keep deer frequenting the farm more regularly. The CRP had been cut, so the farm looked like a lawn. I wasn't worried though because I knew that we would have the food. Now, it was just a matter of time until cameras were out taking inventory, assisting me with planning how and when to hunt the farm.
I ended up putting two brassica plots on this farm. It was basically four square 40-acre pieces totaling 160 acres. I perfect square. The entire farm was CRP except for a low-lying timbered creek/ditch that ran basically East & West though the heart of the farm with one big finger running up to the north from it. My neighbors to the south and west were whom I needed to piggyback off of for bedding since our CRP was cut. A couple farms over was the heart of the neighborhood where the deer concentration generated from. Deer travel. I wasn't worried, but I had no idea what type of deer would venture out from the internal of the neighborhood for my food sources. I did have a good amount of does on the farm, so I had at least that going for me during the rut in the coming months.
Fast forward to November when we started hunting the farm. One 1/2 acre brassica plot was on the north side of the ditch out in the open. Straight south across the ditch was my 5-acre bean plot and 1/2 acre kill plot tucked in. I had a hay bale blind on the north plot, and an old wooden tower platform with a pop-up on it overlooking the kill plot directly in front. I was going to put two hunters on this farm, one on the north and one on the south, in the blinds. Not a single tree stand location worked on this ditch due to no ability to access it securely without bumping deer. My first hunter arrived a couple of days before my second hunter, so I got him on the north hay bale blind. He saw a few deer the first day, but was ushered home immediately due to a work emergency with his company that evening. As he drove away from the farm, about 1 mile down the road straight west was very, very open flat tillable ground. He saw a monster buck that he claimed was a definite "booner" with a drop-tine working his way around. I tried to get him to stay because I knew that deer had nowhere to go except back toward our farm instead of crossing a thousand acres of open tillable ground. He couldn't stay, so that was that.
My second hunter was already in town. I showed him the farm earlier in the day knowing that my other hunter likely wasn't staying. Eventually, he had the farm to himself. I told him about the buck sighting and with an aerial how I believed he would come back through to the farm. It was a matter of now A or B with the blind sets. I told him that I want him to go to the standing bean plot (south side) due to having both food sources and better access, amongst other reasons. The north plot was pretty wiped out already at this point since I did not fence off the brassica plot. The deer demolished it, but the south side was still showing and the beans were an added plus. We left it at that, and we split ways. He went back to the hotel, and I drove back east to my other guys in eastern Zone 5. The next morning, around 9:30, I got a call from him while driving, and he says, "well, he walked by the blind at 20 feet."
I darn near went off the road. My heart started racing assuming we had a mega stud dead. I started heading that way. Our conversation followed something like this:
Me: so he's dead, right?
Me: you got a shot off?
Me: He walked by at 20 feet and you didn't get a shot?
Me: Wait. Why not?
Hunter: Well, I went to the hay bale blind instead this morning.
(not the blind that I told him to go to)
Me: Why not?
Hunter: I just didn't like it... the looks of it.
Me: So, are you going to go over there now in hopes that he comes back later to check for does or to feed?
Me: Why not?
Hunter: I shot a 145" buck about 15 minutes ago.
Me: Oh... (silence)... well, great! I'll head that way, now.
I drove over to the farm, met up with him, and he was shaken up a bit, but I didn't know if it was him being happy and excited or pissed and discouraged. I kept asking about the big one. He described him exactly how my first hunter on this farm described him. Huge. Drop-tine. Booner. Huge. He was only 300 yards from the other blind and could see it clear as day through his binos. I knew it was the giant. He should have killed a mega stud this morning but then he killed a nice buck in front of the hay bale blind in front of my trail camera. We got the buck out. Took pictures. I helped him gut it. Then he headed off right away. I was still kind of shocked how that all worked out. I was upset that he didn't listen to me as he could have easily killed a mega stud. I was also happy that he killed a decent buck in front of my camera in the plot we planted. It's all about perspective.
I never did get a picture of the big one, but I did get a picture of his buck in the bottom and in the plot before he shot. Here are some of the pictures of his buck he killed. We tried to find that big one the rest of the year, but we never saw him again. Another ghost disappeared into the woods of southern Iowa without an arrow being flung. One heck of a story that I'll never forget. Yet, my hunter had one heck of a morning in the deer woods and took a trophy home with him back east.