If we killed this buck, it'd be like hitting a super home run, or in baseball slang, a dinger. I'm a high school baseball coach, and up until I started outfitting, my year was half baseball and half hunting... every year since I was 12. Well, I always wanted to name a buck "dinger" since I first heard the term.
In 2018, I leased a farm that I had my eyes on for at least a year or two. It was a bigger farm in southern Iowa, and I knew I could find some good bucks on it. When it came time to get cameras out, I got moving on the farm without much knowledge to base my cameras on. I just used the aerial map, logic, and set out. I found one spot on the farm that was a 1.25 mile one-way walk/drive with the crops in. I set my Radix Trail Camera facing NE, and I continued on. I set like 4 cameras on this farm that day, not knowing I needed about 6 to 10 total. It was late June, and when I got around to checking cameras again, I just ignored that camera. I didn't want to walk 2-1/2 miles through standing beans after a big rain. Well, I should have. I ended up not getting back to that camera for almost two months. It was September when I got back to that particular camera again. Boy, was I in for a surprise.
This is the picture that caught me. I had a stud and a young stud in the same frame on the most isolated camera on the farm. He made a mistake, and now, he is on my list... at the top for this farm. Dinger was going to get hunted hard come the season.
So, I had some pictures of him throughout the velvet stage into August. Then, I lost him. He did what I've known happens... Bucks get hormonal and just go crazy sometimes. They'll leave. Sometimes they return, others don't. It's a toss-up every year. Well, he wasn't seen again through September. I was let down, and a bit concerned since he was regular on this bigger farm. He must not be far.
In October, I started running my camera in a brassica plot with a Hodag Licking Stick setup. This was mid to late October, with scrapes coming soon. I checked this camera, and I saw him all over it. Holy cow! HE'S BACK! Now, he was on the complete opposite side of this big farm. I knew where he was bedding: my neighbors. Shoot... We have tons of good bedding, so why was he there. I think he got anti-social and with a lot of deer bedding on my farm, he decided to stay away. Yet, he still came to the food, and when the rut hit, I knew he'd be coming for much more than just food. Luckily, this is when my hunters were coming in to hunt this piece.
I had two hunters on this farm. I should have had three or four. Yet, he stopped showing up after Oct 27th (pic at the end of the post). Well, in 2018, there was plenty of legitimate rut activity in late October. Our big bucks were nocturnal though. It was a strange time. A cold front did this and the moon phase. I thought, "well, he could be back at any moment, or he just went the other direction away from the farm to check on does." We started hunting, and didn't see him. We saw a couple of other great bucks, but nothing exactly like Dinger. Day two started, and I got my hunters out there. Well, then this happened as I am driving from the main gravel road down this dead end into the farm's north side...
Caption: Dinger standing a couple hundred yards from my north border in the neighbors field...
He's up in daylight. My golly! I darn near pissed myself when I saw him. I got the phone up as fast as I could to get this video from the vehicle. I had just posted his trail camera photo on a Facebook post saying that he has a date with one of my hunters today and that he's late. When he took off, he was heading toward my north line almost to my NE corner. He was heading toward my big bedding area, and yes I had a hunter there waiting.
I just waited for that text or call to come in... "He's here".... "it's Dinger"... "I shot!"
But it didn't happen. I asked him if he saw any buck movement, and he said no. Darn it! Where in the heck did this buck go. He's somewhere. He's gotta be!! Oh, the games that these whitetails play with you.... ugh!
We continued hunting. We kill this stud below. This buck came in toward my hunter near where I first found out about Dinger, the isolated side of the farm. They were cutting the corn on the opposite side of the beans. You can see them in the above summer pic of Dinger. Across the thin tree line. Finally, the farm was being opened up for viewing. The deer would finally start hitting the normal areas again. The corn can only hide them for so long.
The day or two later, I put my last hunter remaining on the farm into this same setup where we killed the above brute. We're doing all day sits. I was driving around, glassing, stopping at the top of the farm, glassing, driving around to the other side, stopping, glassing, and so on. I always try to scout the big farms when I can. There are never enough eyes. I get a text.....
Dinger was on a line, without a doe, coming to the same trail that we just killed a buck on, the same spot where he enters the woods where I caught his picture back in July. What a storyline! Unfortunately, my hunter hit the metal foot rest with his boot, and it clunked, freezing Dinger in his tracks. It was now or never. He sent the arrow. Full send! Fortunately, he had a clean miss. 63 yards is a poke, especially for a Hoyt (joke). Dinger ran up the hill and either went into the neighbor's CRP/pasture area or toward our big timber block. He didn't go to the timber block. I would have seen him from where I was at. Later on, Jeff shot a beautiful buck from that stand that we had history with, Arnold (below video).
And here's a pic... Unfortunately, he busted off about 5" of his left brow. He would have went 155" but went 150"+/-, a super great buck and Jeff's best day in a stand ever. Jeff is coming back as soon as he gets enough points, and hopefully, we have another buck like Dinger for him waiting. What a hunt!
We never ended up seeing Dinger again that year despite our countless attempts. Well, we might have seen him during Late Muzzleloader Season, but it was too dark to see. In the 2019 off season waiting for the 2019 season to start, I put cameras up in hopes of seeing Dinger somewhere... I did not, sadly. I don't know if he died or moved off. I know Jeff sure put a scare on him. I will always remember Dinger and the cat & mouse game we played that year. This is what it is all about for me. Happy clients & fun chasing of these big boys.
Thanks for reading!
My last trail camera photo of Dinger... 10/27/2018 10:03PM