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IOWA - Go!
Ya'll wanted a good story, so her it is. I posted this 3 or 4 years ago when it happened but I figured I would post it again. I will post every day this week until its conclusion. Iowa-For this who have never been to Iowa I have but 1 word. GO! I have been hunting since I was 5 living in NJ and now IL for the past 20 years or so. While the hunting is good in IL I had no idea how good hunting can be until this year. I had been buying Iowa points randomly for the past 15 years or so, not every year, in fact I finally had 4 points so my brother Stephen and I decided to go hunt IA. He had been twice before, once unguided on public land and once with this outfitter. Both times he had killed a deer. His guided experience was less than stellar but we decided to give it another try. I will not say who the Outfitter was since they are not a sponsor and it really doesn’t matter. We were hunting Zone 6 close to the Missouri border. I had absolutely no expectations for this hunt. I didn’t even know what to expect. We went the 3rd week of November from the 13th to the 20th. There were 15 hunters in camp the first week and 9 or so the second week and success was running about 50% from what I could tell. The outfitter leases 30 or so farms from 30 acres up to 1000 acres so we would have plenty of ground to hunt. It also turns out that my brother and I were the only ones in camp that weeks so we had the whole place to ourselves. We also had the only full time employee, and head guide, at our disposal so things were looking good. We were hunting typical Iowa, farmland with CRP and woodlots.
Iowa Day 1- November 14th The first day I got dropped off and was told to follow the bright eyes into the woods, stand was on my right. I was expecting a ¼ mile walk or so but it was only 50 yds or so and there was my stand for Day 1. I was hunting a funnel in between 2 woodlots with CRP to my left. I saw 2 good bucks walking the CRP before shooting light and then it started to get lighter. As soon as I could shoot I had a 2.5yo 8pt grunting like crazy and chasing a doe all over. At some point they got separated somewhat and I heard another deer grunting and running through the woods. Here comes this basket rack, hauling ass, he crosses the road thru the woods and literally runs into the doe, who then takes off running and he goes after her, and the 8 point is soon to follow. I had deer in view most of the morning and lost count at somewhere around 40 deer before noon. Mostly does, a few random bucks but nothing to shoot at. I am not bragging but simply stating facts I have killed 2 PY bucks, a 154” 8 pt and a 142” 11 pt. so I know how to judge deer and have seen a few true Booners in my life. The general rule of thumb is “Don’t shoot the 8 points” because most will disappoint you. Around 2pm I see a wide, heavy, tall buck walking right at me, kinda bird dogging looking for does but not moving that fast. I grab my bow thinking this is a shooter. As he gets closer I realize he is a clean 4 pt without a hint of brow tines. 20” wide, foot long tines and heavy, but not a shooter. Sure gets the blood pumping though. I saw a doe and 2 fawns around 3pm(we will visit them later in the story) and right at dark I grunted in a 130” 10 pt that to be honest I would have shot him but he hung up behind a little cedar tree at 25 yds and I never got a shot. End of day 1. My brother was hunting a 700 acre farm a few miles away and had a similar day. Not a bad Day 1.
Was this spurred by my comment on the blood trail challenge discussion or something?!
Anyways this is off to a good start!! It reminds me of my Iowa hunt in Zone 6 in 2019. Saw a buck that would go B&C on my first morning sit. But ironically I also saw one that weekend before I left NY for my IA hunt :^)
The OP must have gotten lost on his way home from Iowa?
Iowa Day 2-November 15th I convinced the guide to let me hunt the same stand again. There were just so many deer! Well it did a 180. Winds were gusting up to 50 mph and without my brother lending me a HBS, I would not have made it. Love the HBS and highly recommend them. Anyway, I did not see a deer until 1:30 or so when the doe and 2 fawns came by feeding on the acorns behind me, same place they went the other day. (we will visit them later in the story) I did grunt in a decent 8pt from about 300 yds away about 4 pm. He walked right to me, circled my treestand, did not see the deer he heard and went off in search of love. Since Tuesday was a slow day I will add some filler. I am shooting a PSE Brute set at #65 with, HHA 1 pin sight, PSE Bow Madness 300 arrows and Slick Trick Standard 125’s. I also switched my rest the Sunday before we drove out because my whisker biscuit was cracking so I added a QAD drop away rest. I sighted in in my backyard at 30 and 40 yds and thought everything was OK. Well we will see how THAT turns out. So slow day but my brother saw a ton of deer on his farm.
Sorry, Got busy with Work and I did post days 2 & 3 but they did not appear.. Weird. Anyway
Iowa Day 3-November 16th New farm, new stand. I was up in a ladder stand off a cut CRP field. Before I could shoot I had a buck cruising the edge of the field. Small 6 pt. I then saw quite a few deer throughout the morning and at one point had a real nice 8 pt come out of the draw behind me. My mind says “Shooter!!” I calmly move my sight to 30 yds and wait for him to walk out from the trees screening him settle the pin and promptly shoot right over his back! What??? How could I miss by a foot?? Looking back he was a wide heavy 8pt but not super tall so probably only 125 or so. Still, I missed him clean which was good. I saw a bunch of deer throughout the day, got slow mid day but overall a great day. I got down and got my arrow at noon and then shot it again at a leaf and same results, very high. Not good. I posted some of my hunt, with videos on Instagram @andrewmanukas1 if you want to view them but it will spoil the story.
Iowa Day 4-November 17th Same stand as yesterday, I again saw a ton of deer and at noon the guide texted me to say with the wind switching he was going to move me to a different farm. Fine with me. I also brought a few arrows with broadheads and did some shooting out of the stand with them. My arrows are dead on at 30 yds using my 20 yd pin. Don’t ask, I don’t know how it is so far off but the mystery is solved and it is a good thing I got sighted in. I can hear y’all now saying what kind of idiot replaces his rest right before a hunt and does not get 100% dialed in??? This kind of idiot. Mind you I am not a trophy hunter and never will be. I enjoy the PROCESS of hunting way to much to be concerned with how big the antlers are. I am having an absolute blast hunting with my brother, seeing tons of deer and just knowing it can happen at any moment. Mind you, these are dark to dark sits for 6 days straight, it is a grind, and I love it!! The second half of my day was spent sitting on a fenceline / hedgerow on about 40 acres of CRP and cut corn. This property butted up to an adjacent property that was not leased by this outfitter. If you have never sat on the edge of a cut corn field during the rut in Iowa, I HIGHLY recommend it. I must mention I shoot left handed, because of a lazy eye, and nobody sets up stands for lefties, as you will see. I also don’t use binoculars because it is to much weight for the little use I get out of them with 1 good eye but I should have brought them. This was a stick and hang on set and I really wished it was a ladder stand. I was sitting in a huge old water oak and there was no way I could shoot to my left in the CRP and my distance to the edge of the corn was probably 30 yds or so. Tonight was the stuff dreams are made of and changed me forever. At about 2:30 deer started filing out of the woods and then they literally poured out of the woods. I lost track of how many deer were in the cut corn but it was a lot. Of those deer (3) were in the 140-160 range and one was a solid 170+ 12 pt booner. They all were eating and then chasing does, then eating and this went on all afternoon. I was so mesmerized that I did not even turn my head to the left to check out the CRP field but when I did I almost fell out of the tree. Probably 15-20 deer in the CRP and a gagger 7 point is 23 yds away, oblivious to my presence. This deer was easily 4 ½ yo and a definite shooter. Bases like coke cans and just a big massive white rack…standing there feeding…at 23 yds!!! His left side was more of true “Y” than a beam with a tine, it was just unreal!! I did all I could to get turned around and the tree was in the way. I contemplated taking my release off and shooting right handed but he got love struck and started chasing does. So at the end of the night 3 of the big bucks all chased does right into the corner of the woods about 65 yds in front of me. Easily my best night deer hunting ever. This whole time my brother Stephen is also seeing tons of deer and is way more picky than I am he is letting true 140” 8 points walk every day. I know because he was showing me video every night at the lodge.
Iowa Day 5-November 18th I once again asked the guide to let me sit the stand I sat the previous night. I knew once the deer left the corn in the morning I was in for a long dull day until the afternoon but I had to try it. Stephen eats only deer and was looking for some meat to take home so I got the text at 10 or so that he had shot a doe. Since the field was empty I asked to be picked up and go help track. Plus, I needed a break. I offered to buy lunch for everyone since cold ham sandwiches get old. We drove to Stephens stand and found his bloody arrow and a short track later a fat #118 dressed doe. The whole time since last night I was begging the guide to put a stand in the corner of the field or let me use my hang on I brought with me. No dice. He said if they did it again tonight he would consider moving a stand in there. Back in the magical stand for the evening hunt. Once again deer start pouring out of the woods and lots of small bucks and a few 3 ½ yo but no big bucks. Until….I once again scan the CRP and stepping out of the woods is the biggest buck I have ever seen, just an absolute beast, He was about 100 yds a way so with my rangefinder I did my best to assess this deer. He was at least a 10 or more, foot long brows, 2s and 3s and 8” 4s and whatever else he had. I guessed him in the 180-190 class. All the grunting in the world had no effect on him. He walked across the street and fed in the alfalfa with a bunch of does. Once again the only word I have is UNREAL!!! Once again Stephen is seeing all kinds of deer but wont drop the string on anything but a monster buck. We are having a blast.
Iowa Day 6-November 19th The last day of our scheduled hunt. Stephen wanted more deer meat so I said I would gladly shoot a doe. I went back to the same stand as day 1 and at 7:30 I see the doe and 2 fawns coming to eat the acorns behind my stand. Perfect. I let her get 20 yds broadside, draw, place the pin on her chest and release. I promptly spine her and drop her in her tracks. I hate this and send 2 more arrows into her to end her life. I win the big doe competition as mine dresses out at 127 lbs. The reason I hit high is she was 20 yds and I used my 20 yd pin. I should have aimed lower. Stephen is set for meat and we go pick him up and get lunch…again. The afternoon hunt we switch it up and I hunt his farm and the guide had set a stand in the corner by the magical stand so Stephen went to hunt that stand. I thought for sure he was going to torch a monster but he did not, He saw one but it was chasing does and he couldn’t get a shot. As the sun set on our last evening I was thrilled beyond belief. Got to see some new country, killed a few deer and got to spend some much needed time with just me and God. But wait…its not over yet.
Sounds like an amazing experience!
Iowa Day 7-November 20th Back at the lodge, Stephen convinces me to stay for 1 more half day hunt. I am toast at this point but hey, we are here and not coming back soon so we stay for 1 more half day. Stephen wants me to hunt the pasture stand where he has been covered up in deer the past few days and has seen some huge bucks and had one at 5 yds but that is another story. It is an absolute perfect stand. A funnel around the corner of a cow pasture that every deer has to walk through if they are to walk this section of woods. The weather was perfect all week and this day was no different. Cool, not cold, light wind and high pressure. At 7, I turn to my left and see a gorgeous 2 ½ yo 9 point with long tines and a small drip tine on his right. Stephen had told me about this deer and I let him walk. Not easy to do on the last day but this deer will be a stud in 2 years. There are 2 roads that intersect at this stand and I had ranged trees at 20, 30 and 40 yds on the road to my north. At 7:30 I see a buck leading a doe through the woods and they are going to step out just past the 30 yd oak tree. I took one look and said “Shooter” I will say that due to my bad eye most deer I shoot have more points than I think they did when I shot them. I see mass, some decent tines and when he turned his head I thought he was fairly wide. It’s the last half day and he is walking right into my shooting lane. I kept my pin on 20 because he is at 30, see how that works??? He steps out, I errp him, settle the pin and absolutely torch this buck, just 12 ring him. He runs off down a little ridge and I hear him crash, plus 2 tails went down the ridge and only 1 went up the other side. I know he is dead. Text Stephen, text the guide and tell them I just smoked a decent 8 pt and just wait. I go place an X on the road where he was standing but I do not go look for him. What a rush, it will NEVER get old. So after an hour we drive around to the other side of the property and come in to find him. He had my arrow in him when he ran and I saw the lighted knock go flying as it broke off. I wish I had videoed the recovery but I was just flying so high I forgot. As the guide is looking for blood I walk down the ridge and yell, “White belly, he’s down” As the deer ran away they actually jumped like a 5 ft wide by like 15 foot deep washout thru the woods and he was on the other side. When I say this deer never bled a drop it is the truth. The first picture is him as I found him, double lung shot and not a drop of blood on him. So the guide looks at me and says “It’s 200 yds up over the ridge to the road or we drag him back through the ditch and 50 yds to the truck” No brainer. You should see 2 grown men struggle getting a mature buck up a sheer 15 foot ditch. We never let go and never lost our footing but it was challenge. And so ended our hunt in Iowa. I understand he is a 130” +/- 10 pt and not exactly why I came to Iowa but he is my 3rd biggest buck and I am thrilled with him. Just such a solid buck. Now…how do I get back to Iowa sooner than 5 years??? Stephen never did kill a buck but will be going back late season and I know he will kill one. I love you brother!!
Congrats on a nice buck man! But holy crap, get that sight squared away! LOL.
Thanks for sharing your adventure Andrew, nice buck buddy.