My hunter Mike was coming bro hunt with me in Zone 6 back in 2016. I already had some hunters in camp, so he was arriving a little late to the party. His timing couldn't have been better. I get mentally drained during this season, and I made a slight mistake. I was suppose to pick Mike up at the airport where I live, the Quad Cities (Moline International Airport), which was a 3-hour drive from camp. I thought that he was arriving on the day before his hunt started, but that was in correct. He arrived on the day his hunt was suppose to start. So, I left camp and started the 3-hour drive to the airport, and about half way, I realized that I was wrong on the dates. So, I turned around, and headed back. Texting and calling Mike, I was a bit anxious to get him in. I picked him up the next day, and we had a great conversation the whole way back to camp. If my memory serves me right, we hurried to get him out the first evening. It was November 7th or so.
I wanted to take him to this farm where we had four known shooters on the farm, of which one was a buck that was super difficult to catch on camera in the middle of the frame. Every picture I had of him, his rack was either half out and half in the frame. I never got a good luck at his body, but based on his rack, estimated 170-180", I figured he's a definite shooter. We had another booner to hunt there and two deer that would go 155-165". I had two standing corn plots, with a brushed in ground blind on both. Those were the only two hunting options on this farm. No stands. Just two blinds on opposite ends of the farm which was about 240 acres in size. Some odd days prior, I had a hunter hunting the opposite blind, and he decided to change spots. The next morning this buck walked by in range in daylight, but he looked run-down. I didn't think he was young as he was our #1 shooter on the farm. So, I told Mike this, and I showed him some pictures. I got him into the blind, and I got back to my vehicle sitting at the barns at the farm entrance where I glass.
Thinking back, it seemed like 30 minutes or so before I got the word from Mike that he shot him. I couldn't believe it. That quick! First sit! Holy cow! We gave it some time, and then we headed over there. I couldn't find blood for crap. I was frustrated. Mike knew he hit him good, but I just couldn't find good blood. We tracked the deer down into the timber strip below the plot, and got mixed up. Thankfully, I had another hunter with me, and we eventually got on it. The other hunter went the opposite direction as me to split up, and boom, dead deer found. I ran over to the buck with Mike, and I was taken back with just how big he was. However, he had busted off 15" worth of 2 of his 3 brow tines on his right side. He still had one mega brow, but there was a 7" and an 8" brow tine busted off. We didn't care at this point, but holy cow, he lost them recently within the last week or so. I didn't notice this on the picture from the other day on the other plot. It was just blurry enough to not notice. Also, I'm looking at this deer's body thinking, "oh my gosh, he's young." He was either 3-1/2 or 4-1/2, and I guessed 3-1/2. Still, I didn't know this beforehand, and furthermore, how could I tell a guy to pass a buck like this. It was a 110% trophy whitetail, as you can see in the photo below.
After all of the fun work, we got the buck taken care of. I needed to ship the rack back to Mike as he couldn't get it safely on the flight with his luggage. My guide, Chad, and I scored him at 165". He was a walking 180" whitetail at 3-1/2 or 4-1/2. I follow the bird-in-the-hand vs. two-in-the-bush mentality. Dead deer 100% of the time. I was so happy for Mike, and that buck became my operation's biggest whitetail harvested. That lasted until the next fall when we killed a 200" stud in Zone 5 (reference... Blog Post: "Our 2nd 200" Buck Encounter: 2017"). Yet, Mike's buck will always hold a special place in my memory bank. To date, this is the only time we have killed a buck in the first sit of the hunt when it comes to hunting the first evening in camp. I hope we can break that streak in 2020. Mike is hoping to get back to Iowa this fall to have another fun and exciting trip with the stick and string.