Contributors to this thread:
The Halloween Ghost
Living in Iowa my entire life, I had longed dreamed of owning my own farm. That dream became a reality in the spring of 2005, as I purchased a small farm right out of school, and vowed to make it the best I could in regards to bowhunting, habitat and wildlife. The farm that I bought carried no rubs or scrapes, big buck photos or food plots. It was over-run with 4 wheeler traffic and had no security cover- but in my heart I felt it held promise. In the great state of Iowa, sound management and time can yield tremendous results-at least I hoped. Great friends and I worked hard, planted food plots, established sanctuaries and hunted the edges as best we could. We took ZERO bucks the first three years, but it really wasn’t our decision-we just didn’t see any :)
Three years later, in 2008, more bucks were beginning to show up, ideas had been drawn up and carried out regarding sanctuaries, food plots, TSI and CRP-and the deer began to notice. While checking trail cameras that summer, we captured the image of a young deer with interesting antlers. His palmation was evident and I hadn’t seen any deer like him before-at least not with my own eyes in the wild. While other deer popped up and captured our attention, we couldn’t help but wonder if we would ever see him or what he would become? We decided to give him a name, and that name would “Palmy”.
In March of 2009, I found a shed of the young Palmy and in the summer of 2009, another fleeting photo appeared of a nice buck with similar frame and mass coming out of the sanctuary we had created-it had to be him, right? The palmation and mass were evident- Palmy was growing up.
In October 2009, I was able to take my first buck on the farm-it was surreal to say the least-but other than one photo of Palmy-no more photos or sightings took place that fall or winter. We had heard of a large buck wounded on the adjacent property but they were unable to recover it. We truly wondered if he was gone?
Is this the last photo of Palmy?
Flash forward to this past summer, 2010, more big bucks were showing up, CRP and sanctuary cover was enhanced, the heart and soul of property management in my opinion, and we were excited as a couple nice bucks were showing up on the cameras, seemingly calling our security cover home. Yet none were Palmy, was he truly gone?
In August I decided to hang a set that bordered a small pond to the West and a natural edge to the North, made up an area of secondary growth and mature timber. The bucks would start cruising and rather than be sky lined-I had noticed through the years how they would just drop down and use the edge of where the two cover types met. THE ONLY wind that would work would be East or NE.
As I hung that stand with my buddies son Seth that hot August day, I said, “I need to take it another two feet up, that hickory branch will stop a shot if one comes through in that spot, and you never know.” Seth was less than amused and just looked at me with dismay as the mosquitoes kept biting and the 90 degree weather worked on us. I moved the stand and while I thought it might be overkill, you just never know.
October 31st, 2010-Halloween Day. The Hawkeyes just got a big win and my wife and I were getting ready to go out. She is a HUGE Halloween fan, and really gets into dressing up and going out to see all the various costumes. While I enjoy seeing that as well, I have always been a bowhunter at heart, so cutting my nights short to get some rest before the Halloween mornings hunts had usually been the routine. Marriage changes a man however, and seeing how much she enjoyed doing the festivities makes me want to be part of it and have fun with her. Halloween festivities are now a mainstay at our house-with new home made costumes each year and trying to beat out my brother and his girlfriend.
While I had always dreamed of taking a big buck on Halloween-it had never happened in nearly twenty years of bowhunting, and I didn’t think 2010 would be any different. We decided to go with the “Tortoise and the Hare,” a famous Aesop Fable, while my brother and girlfriend went with the bull/matador skit. My other brother, visiting from Texas, was a whitetail, go figure. At the end of the night we got the controversial Victory, by a mere two votes from the waitresses and waiters at the barJ
"Tortoise and the Hare"....like my home-made shell!?
This is what happens when the hare wins.....gets turned on! Blondes always win :(
12:30 AM- I said goodbye to my wife as she went out with her girlfriends, and left the bar/restaurant heading south to my farm. The farm is about 90 miles away, near my hometown. My parents still live in the area so I had a place to crash. I still had my “tortoise” make-up on, minus the shell, and was feeling tired but not too bad.
2:30 AM-I arrived at my parents and got my bow and boots out and then my clothes….wait…where’s my clothes????? I LEFT THEM AT MY HOUSE TWO HOURS AWAY!!!!!!!
2:35-2:45-Kindergarten temper tantrum...no description necessary.
3:00 AM-Decision time. One voice said go to bed, sleep in, it is ONLY Oct 31st. The other weaker voice said, “You don’t have much time to hunt each week and the wind IS out of the East, how often that happen dumbs a ##.?”
3:30AM-Arrive at Wal-Mart and purchase $75 worth of clothes, the cheapest Jacket and sweater I could. A PAIR OF SWEATPANTS (they were Realtree HD..ha ha..needed some ‘coolness’ factor) and a $5 “camo” hat that fit great J Disclaimer on Clothes Tag: “These products are pure cotton, no scent lok, carbon or any other scent reducing capabilities. They will fade and not insulate. If one feels they will aid in anything but moisture soaking abilities you will be wrong.”
Ha ha. If there was ever a time to go back to the basics, this was it. I don’t believe in scent lok-but had in the past-and through the years realized you will LIVE AND DIE by the wind. Period. I purchased some scent eliminating detergent to get as ‘neutral’ as I could and went home to get ready.
4:00 AM-wash clothes and dry. Still irritable.
5:00 AM-lie down and nap. Feeling better J
5:50 AM-awake and have a “can’t believe it’s time-what the hell is happening look on my face.” Also feeling should be in bed with wife two hours away. Again irritable.
6:00 AM I am out the door and grab a red-bull (purchased at Wal-mart with cotton, moisture soaking, un-insulated clothes) and chugged it.
6:45 AM I am almost to the tree and feeling weird. Lack of sleep, sweat pants on, remnants of green hair dye from my outfit…...need I go on. As I climbed the tree for the first time in that set, the one I hung in August, I felt the breeze hit my neck and carry over the pond. This was good. Then I heard “crunch-crunch-crunch-crunch.” OH NO! I looked down and here comes a 2.5 year old ten, nice deer but a ‘whew’ came out of my mouth. Good sign, out cruising, feeling a bit more awake now. Bow is up, arrow nocked, sit down and relax.
Ten minutes go by and light begins to fill the woods. It’s beautiful. I always start each hunt with, ‘Thank you Lord for another day to see, hear and enjoy this. Thanks.” Might be corny but it’s my ritual.
7:30 AM-My ears bring me to attention, then my eyes follow suit, here comes tines…long-ish tines and I grab my bow. Then I see it’s a small body-streamlined body, thin bases. I know this deer. He’s young and will get the pass. I own about 160 acres and there are ZERO guarantees if I pass him somebody else won’t shoot him-but then again-if I DO shoot him-he has no chance. I lay the bow on the hanger.
7:33 Something is happening. He's getting VERY nervous. He starts looking down the Ridge. He keeps “looking” hard and standing stone still. After twenty years in the Iowa woods I know one thing…..Something is coming…Something BIGGER.
Suddenly-the younger bucks takes off and if I had hit him with a paddle he couldn’t have ran off any faster. The scene was getting tense. WHAT was coming? Then I see him…A Giant Main beam appears, ghosting over the ridge coming right at me, almost depicting the same scene as Larry Zach’s “November Frost,”showing the buck materializing out of the fog. Then it hits me…its PALMY!!!
Maybe it was the lack of sleep but I was surprisingly calm. I guess I also knew he was coming right at me and was hand cuffed-I couldn’t move. Suddenly he veered to my right, the wind is coming from the NE, and I am facing due east. He was supposed to come in front and move to my left!!!!!!! Didn’t he read the script?
I always have lived by the strategy-“you will often kill a big buck when you hunt stands that are ALMOST wrong for you and ALMOST right for him.” This was turning into one of those moments. Twenty more yards and he hits my scent stream, until then I’m safe, or so I thought.
He keeps coming and his rack is not getting smaller. He veers to the right and then stops on dime. OH NO...he has cut my trail-being tired I decided to cut through one area I shouldn’t have and he knows it. He stands there, not moving at all-save for the heads tilts, flaring nostrils and TRYING with all his might to figure out what it is. I honestly was even less nervous now as I knew-had seen it too many times- they don’t make mistakes. A big buck often vanishes the same way he came-knowing all was not well.
Minutes pass as he stands stone still, seemingly on a real-life ‘pause.’ I start scanning. He is literally in a thicket of cedar and multi-flora rose, all I can see is an eye here, an ear there. If I turn away to relieve some neck strain-it’s like playing “Where’s Waldo” each time I look back.
Scanning to my right I see it, one spot-the size of a basket ball. This area would need to see my arrow travel OVER a set of hickory branches-the same ones I decided to rise my stand above back in August. I couldn’t believe what was unfolding.
Then I notice he calms, his tail flickers and he begins to walk towards me. The release goes on and I start side stepping on the tiny stand turning 90 degrees to my right, NEEDING to turn 90 degrees to make this work. I then realize, it that brief moment, that a shot will in fact present itself. He enters the opening with his nose; I come to full draw and “merp.” He stops, the pin settles for 26 yards and I release the slick trick.
I see him drop a bit and whirl-but not before the arrow disappears in the crease and a solid “thump” echoes through the hardwoods. I am now…. SHAKING!! Better after than before I guessJ I notice he runs off over the ridges and disappears. I don’t hear a crash and 30 minutes later I descend to look very cautiously for my arrow. It’s nowhere to be found and although I am now a bit more concerned, I do as I always do, leave quietly, and treat each shot with a worst case scenario’ approach.
Since it hit his right side, the worst case if I was just a bit back would be liver, I know it wasn’t a paunch shot, at least going in, and any bone would have been audibly evident. Hence-I waited 4 hours for my good friend Don, his brother and Seth to accompany me back into the woods with allot of hope. These guys drove all the way back from a Missouri youth hunt to help and I couldn't have been more thankful.
I have bowhunted long enough to know anything can happen in this endeavor, and that 99% of the time, we as hunters know if we are in fact going to find a particular animal. The effort is always there, until all possibilities are exhausted, but in our hearts we know glancing hits don’t work, solid ones do, and mediocre is just that. I felt this was a good one. We couldn’t find the arrow so elected to “slowly” meander in the direction he ran, until Don said, “I have blood.” It was sparse but steady and darker in color. We pressed on and at 200 yards I was getting nervous, despite the steady flow. At one point I considered backing out but Don convinced me to keep pushing.
The blood at times became lighter in color and more frothy, but NEVER once did it stop, which is a testament to a razor sharp broadhead. We went up and down two hills, along with one ditch, still no deer and now we are at 300 yards. Down into another creek and now I am REALLY worried. I ventured into the deep creek and then heard Don’s brother say, “Well, you can keep blood trailing if you want or just go look at your deer.”
I crested the bank and there he lay in his bed. Words can’t describe how I felt. No way could they do my emotions justice. Undoubtedly, if I had pursued immediately, because I saw the arrow hit ‘perfectly’, it may have been different. He was truly a beast and I couldn’t get over the mass. The broadhead had in fact centered the impact side lung, before taking the liver and paunch. While I thought he was perfectly broadside, his motion at the shot evidently caused him to slightly quarter to me, thus causing a posterior exit.
I was relieved, proud, elated and a million other things. More than anything though I was proud of this deer and those friendships I had to share it with. He was the first deer we had taken in which we had a long history with, and my dreams of taking a Halloween buck had come true. I truly believe when it comes to taking big bucks, luck is still the factor that trumps most anything else, but if you listen to the wind, use terrain features and hunt when you can, luck can be easier to find.
Thanks for reading and good luck out there is fall:)
Awesome story and buck! Congrats on a lot of hard work paying off!
Awesome buck man! Congrats!
Excellent buck and story!!
Magnificent buck! Congrats on all the effort you put in!
Awesome buck !!! And a great story also !!
That's awesome on so many levels! Great story man.
Great story!! Way to stay the course and get it done. Congrats!
Wow, congratulations! great buck and great write up - you should submit that to a magazine . . . although you probably just reached the same crowd
Fantastic job Eyad!
I smell another Bowhunter Magazine story in the works here.
Very nice!!!!!!! Congrats
What an amazing story. Thanks for sharing. That buck is Masstastic!
You went to a lot trouble for such a small moose.;)
"Wow," says it all but I particularly like the recounting of your gear foibles. We've all been there.
Really cool story!!!
Congratulations on that BRUTE!!!
George Peppard said it best..."I love it when a plan comes together..."
Congratulations on a beautiful buck.
That's a real pretty buck! I really like the palmation. Congrats!
Great story, great buck! Congrats!
Great story!!!!! Congrats!
Great story Hawkeye! Your living the dream!
great story, better buck!
Great buck Eyad. Good luck with the cats in Alberta.
THAT, is an awesome buck and an even better story! You, my friend, have a way with words and need to submit that. Not only was I there in the stand with you, but can totally relate on so many levels. The "Where's Waldo" line had me lauging.
Very well done.
Hawkeye: You are a good man and this is well deserved! Well written and well done. Congrats and many more! C
That is a pig! His face looks like a horse rather than a deer. Well done my friend.
Nice story,I was waiting for you to tell us you shot him in the turtle costume.OK what did he score?
Rivals any story I've read in a magazine. Big congrats on a beautiful buck, but more importantly taking him on your own land that you knew could hold good deer.
I echo the sentiments of many above...you've GOT to submit that to somebody. Great story, and really shows how guys can create success with hard work and dedication over the years. Congratulations!!!
Congrats on a great deer and thanks for the great story.
WOW !!! Great buck !!! Congrats !!
Wowza!! Great story! Heck of a buck. You are a good writer. COngrats!
Awesome deer, and story, Congrats, and thanks for the hunt!
Congrats again buddy, you deserve it!
Well written--thank you for sharing--excellent buck--GO IOWA!
Outstanding buck and outstanding story. Im sure it is an amazing feeling with all the work and time you have put into your farm to get an animal such as Palmy.
I enjoyed the story..thanks for sharing...great buck
Great story and even cooler buck. Congrats, Hawkeye!
Eyad: great buck! Now go out and get that cat.
Awesome job with shooting and tracking your deer! Amazing!
Congrats Eyad. That was a great story.
Excellent story and a beautiful buck. I love it when the time and persistence pays off. If this isn't motivation for everyone to get out there and get after it I don't know what is. Congrats on a much deserved Iowa beast.
All around excellent post!!! Congrats on having all your hard work pay off and your dream come true! Thanks for sharing!
Awesome. Good stuff. What a great animal. You expressed many feelings that I feel on a regular basis. Congrats.
Great buck and an even better story! Congrats, Hawkeye!
Fantastic story and an awesome buck! Cant wait till I can hunt those whitetails again. What a rush!
Hawkeye, great story and well written, enjoyed it tremendously.
Awesome success story! Congratulations on harvesting that Monster Buck!
Best Wishes, Jeff (Bowsite Sponsor)
Really neat story, thank you for sharing it! And congrats!
I really can't say what I enjoy more, seeing that buck or reading your story. You've done a great job and thank you for sharing it with us! Jeff
Great buck and great party!!!!!
What a great story and fabulous buck!!!
I agree, that is a "great" story, congratulations.
I hope I have a story like that before season end Eyad! Great story! "Scary" monster buck!
Really enjoyed that! Thanks and congrats!
CONGRATS! Great Buck, Great story! Good Luck on the CAT!!!
Great story and very well written!! I have total empathy for the conflict of spending time with your wife and hunting. I love to hunt but my wife is my best friend and I love being with her. Sometimes its a tough decision....especially on those cold mornings when we're spooned up in the flannel sheets!
That's awesome!!! Thanks for sharing your experience!
Great story, I got shivers at one point! Awesome.
Now that is hunting! Very well done
the only thing that would have made the pics better would be you still in costume!! haha
Congrats Eyad and thanks for sharing
Nice pics, that is a toad. Well the down side is you set a precident with success and Late night fun and success in the stand. your wife will eat this one up. Good job, and good luck on killing a huge Tom.
Eyad, Congratulations on a tremendous buck! The harvest is all that much sweeter after conducting your own "Aldo Leopold Project!" Here is to tagging out on your lion!
Excellent read, excellent deer, excellent job. Congrats!
So glad for you!!! Im glad you posted a link to this.... during the season I miss alot of stuff being so busy hunting and family. I am just getting back at it and seeing what I missed here.
Great story and I really like the fact that your a fellow FOB flinger.
Palmy lives! Just picked up the August 2011 edition of Bow & Arrow Hunting magazine. Our very own Hawkeye has a great article in there on his hunt for Palmy. Check it out!
Also just read the story in Bow & Arrow. You are quite the writer. Great buck. and Nice costumes.
Great story and a Great Buck, thanks for sharing!
Hawkeye, were your wearing your turtle shell when your shot Palmy??? ;>)))
Ha ha. I tried but my safety harness wouldn't fit over it .....
Thanks guys :)
Eyad, I glad this story made it's way up to the top again, you write very well. Still have to call and hope to share a camp with ya! Great job and dont forget to post a photo of the mount.
Rich-thanks and would enjoy sharing a camp anytime buddy! I'll try a couple I had on my desk top.
Hawkeye, maybe he shoulda been named, The Ghost of Happy Hollow!!! Ha Ha ;>)))
Hawkeye, or maybe call him the Buck of Sleepy Hollow!!! ;>)))
Eyad, this story has it all! Congrats on having "lived it!" just picked up Bow and Arrow and read that last night! Way to go! 12 weeks till game time!
Dennis Razza's Link
Eyad the deer is OK, but that Rabbit is really something special!
great story! great buck!