Today’s W2H reader success story comes from Casey Walters, who details his wife’s early muzzleloader season hunt in Iowa which ended with her biggest buck to date! Big congrats to Casey and Jen! – MK

By Casey Walters

This year brought an entire new challenge for us. We had just purchased 35 acres in the spring and with a new property comes lots of obstacles, such as deciding on stand locations and access routes, and figuring out travel patterns. We had limited time to prep for the season as we remodeled the house on the property. So my hopes were sky high, but my expectations weren’t the highest going into the season.

In Iowa we have a nine day early muzzleloader season, which has always been a mixed bag for me. It opens the 2nd Saturday in October and runs through the following Sunday. Depending on the status of that year’s crop and the weather it can be great or a flop.

For my wife, early muzzleloader has been a great way to get outside and hunt before shotgun season or late muzzleloader when it is drastically colder. Being this early in the season, the deer haven’t had a lot of pressure, which is another positive versus the later seasons after they have been hunted hard the previous 2-3 months.

We hunted hard opening day with lot of action and close calls, so we decided to take the next morning hunt off to wait for the wind to switch and to be able to access our set-up without disturbing any deer. It was an overcast day and started to drizzle in the afternoon, which allowed us to quietly get to our set up.

The forecast showed chances of rain the next 3 days, so I anticipated good movement heading to a bean field to our north. The afternoon started slowly with a small 4-pointer working the tree line and a few does on the far side of the field. The previous day we had heard some sparring and rattled in three different bucks, so we decided to give it a shot again today.

After tickling the horns together for a minute or so this buck emerged from the tree line to investigate. He slowly inched closer, but was hesitant to approach. We then heard another buck grunt for several minutes while we watched the buck. We were worried he wasn’t going to come any closer or worse yet leave the field, so we decided it was time to take the shot.

I ranged the buck at 144 yards and told my wife to put the first dot on the buck’s shoulder. She steadied herself and took the shot. When the smoke cleared we saw some tails running off, but not where the buck was. Unsure of the shot, we decided to go take a look. After a short track (search job) we found him piled up in the bean field.

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This was her biggest buck to date and oddly enough came one year to the day from when she shot her first buck. It is always fun to hunt with her and more fun when we have success like this, but made even more special by drawing first blood on OUR property!!

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A couple takeaways from this hunt would be making sure to hunt prior to a storm front coming in. Deer have a 6th sense about this, we have a forecast (which may not always be right), but have to take advantage of the information we do have. Wet days are great days to get deeper into the timber and reach those hard to hunt stands without alarming every deer on your way in. Don’t be afraid to lightly rattle-I typically don’t rattle this early, but we (my wife’s idea) decided to gently rattle and each time had bucks respond, much to my surprise. Though most were young bucks-this old buck came to investigate. The biggest takeaway would be that everyone should try to hunt with a spouse, child, or friend. It is always more enjoyable to share moments like these with others.

– Casey Walters