It’s early December, but this story starts in July. That’s when I was served notice that I’d been drawn for an Iowa non-resident archery deer tag. This momentous news made other summer crosses—humidity, lawn-mowing, weeding the garden—so easy to bear they seemed trifling. I have hunted Hawkeye State whitetails enough to know that there is no place I’d rather be come November.
That said, my first hunt on a friend’s farm there was largely a bust. I hit southern Iowa the first week of November to find the rutting action decidedly lukewarm. Saw a dandy the first evening, then spent the better part of six days looking for one of those heavy-racked, bull-shouldered bucks the state is famous for…and could barely spot a mediocre buck. Oh, I saw a couple of magazine-cover deer, but they were always in odd places; like the bed of someone else’s truck, or trotting across the road, illuminated by headlight beams. I went home with an empty tag and a belly full of Humble Pie.
Enter my buddy Mark. We’ve been chasing whitetails together for nearly twenty years and just this spring my friend bought a 200-acre farm in Iowa. Mark had not drawn a tag to hunt his new estate, and he insisted that nothing would make him happier than if I’d perform some exploratory surgery. “I’d love to know if there are good deer there,” he said. “Go down and bring me something to prove the investment was worthwhile.”
So with two days left in the early archery season, I found—or made—a hole in my work schedule and decided to help my friend out. On the last evening of my hunt, I spotted a fine buck trotting across the neighboring property. He had that cocky walk of a buck feeling pretty full of himself, so I grabbed my rattling antlers and crashed them together. The buck crossed a creek, three fences, and 400-some yards of real estate so quickly I barely had time to think. Suddenly he was within bow range and I was grunting him to a stop. I showed him to Mark the next day, and my friend’s smile was, if this is possible, larger than my own. You cannot repay favors such as this. Thanks, Mark!
Buck Tracker Stats
Date: November 28, 2007
Location: Clarke Co. Iowa
Score: 135” estimate
Weapon: Mathews Switchback
Shot Distance: 20 yards
Method: Tree stand