By Mark Kenyon
My jaw dropped to the ground with a thud – not too different from the sound you might hear when the hood of your truck gets slammed shut. I was stunned. Before me stood the largest buck I had seen in my entire life, and he seemed to be heading right for me…
But before we get to this incredible moment from my past weekend, lets back up a bit. I had hit the road this last Friday headed towards Iowa, to meet my pals Pete & Ross. I am incredibly fortunate that these guys have offered to let me share their hunting grounds this fall, and this trip was my first down there to start getting things prepped for the upcoming season.
We had plenty on our to-do list this weekend, and got right to it on Saturday morning. Over the course of our two days afield we hiked across bean fields, waded through rivers and climbed steep ridges in an effort to scout as much ground as possible and make sure I’d seen all of the existing stand locations. We also hung a couple terrific sets, and I’m pretty sure these areas will be dynamite come the rut. Along the way I was consistently amazed by how beautiful and rugged the terrain was in this part of Iowa. The steep cliff walls, deep valleys and rocky formations abounded and at times it seemed like I was trekking through some far away western terrain, rather than the farm ground of Iowa. It truly is an amazing area.
On top of all the work we had to get done, we also got to enjoy the excitement of checking trail cameras! And checking trail cameras in Iowa, sure puts my camera excitement in Michigan to shame! It’s a whole nother ball game. On every camera we pulled, except one, we had multiple shooter bucks – ranging anywhere from the 130’s to 150’s and some of these were bucks that had been photoed back a year or two as well. Split G2s, kickers, flyers, junk at the bases – you name it – these bucks had character. Seeing all of these great deer on camera, certainly got me excited to come back in November and I’ve included a few for your viewing pleasure below (and one above)!
But all of this excitement over big bucks and killer treestands paled in comparison to the events of Saturday evening. After a hard days work, Pete, Ross and his wife Kendall piled into the car and we headed out with cameras in hand to film velvet bucks in the area. Things started off great with a 150ish buck off in the distance almost immediately, and we then continued from bean field to bean field – spotting plenty of does, fawns and bucks of various sizes. We spotted a couple 120’s, and then 3 nice 130-140″ bucks running across a field just across from one of our hunting areas. Not long after we spotted a group of nine bucks feeding in the far corner of a field, and there looked to be one buck that was probably approaching the 160″ mark. At this point I was thrilled.
We decided then to head back towards another section we can hunt, and as we came to yet another bean field Pete noticed a nice young buck bedded down a fence row. We came to a halt and shut off the vehicle as the group of us tried to find the buck in our view finders. But before any of us could get on the young deer, Pete yelled that there was a giant in the road!
I looked up and immediately saw a massive framed buck walking slowly down the gravel road towards us, but before I could get the camera on him he turned and headed into a small fencerow along the edge of the road. With beans just on the other side of the fencerow, I thought I might be able to see the buck come out the other side and I jumped out of the truck and creeped to the edge of the road, where the beans started.
At first I saw nothing, but after a minute of frantic searching the giant buck stepped into the beans and began slowly walking my way. Amazingly, rather than walking straight out into the beans, he turned and walked parallel to the road – right towards me! Eventually he walked right in front of me, at maybe 40 yards, never knowing or caring that I was there. All along I filmed the giant and thought in my head how this was the most incredible thing I’d ever seen.
By far this was the biggest buck I’ve seen in my entire life – and definitely the closest I’ve ever been to a deer like this. For me, growing up hunting in Northern Michigan, seeing a buck over a 100″ had been a rare event until I moved south just a few years ago. So now, sitting in front of a buck that we estimated was somewhere in the 185″ area – it just seemed unreal. It was truly an unbelievable experience and one that has replayed in my head over and over ever since.
Between this jaw dropping encounter, all the great bucks on camera and the terrific commraderie, this trip ended up being a blast. I thought I was thrilled to hunt Iowa already, but this weekend took me over the edge. I’ll be counting down the days til my next trip to the Land of Giants – and it cannot come soon enough.
UPDATE 7/30/12: Here is a link to see the video of the Iowa giant!