By Mark Kenyon
With the cold front rolling across the country late last week, I decided it was time to make the trip to Iowa for the first time this hunting season – and I’m pretty glad I did. Because I almost … oh so close … almost killed a toad!
With predicted high temps dropping almost 20 degrees for the part of Iowa I’m hunting, I knew that deer movement would likely be strong over the weekend, so on Thursday evening I hit the road. I have two properties that I gained permission on this summer, and on Friday morning I headed to one of those farms to check a trail camera and potentially do a little scouting. But things turned south quick. My one trail camera on that property malfunctioned and took thousands of random pictures throughout each day, and then while checking pictures at my truck, another vehicle rolled up with some guys coming in to hunt with their muzzleloaders for the weekend. With that, I decided it was time to bail, and focus on farm #2 – the property I was most interested in anyway.
Planning Sit #1
The morning before I left for Iowa, a friend and I did some serious brainstorming about how I should plan my first couple sits on this property. Given the fact that I’d never hunted here before, I ideally wanted to hunt somewhere that I could observe a large area while still being in a spot conducive to action at this time. Especially with the hard cold front hitting, I wanted to be in a spot where I might at least get a crack at something. And so I settled on the location marked by the yellow star on the map below.
This stand site looked promising for several reasons. First, based on the aerial images, it seemed that this area was relatively open and brushy, making it a likely transition area for deer moving from bedding areas (that I expected to be off those timbered points to my north and northeast) and into the corn fields behind me. With the addition of a pond as well, I expected this to be a popular staging area. I’d also be able to observe a wide swath of terrain, with those fields to my northwest and south. And finally, with a northwest wind, I could easily get in there with my wind blowing out behind me into the corn and away from any approaching deer.
Several hours later, my hypothesis proved to be even more correct that I anticipated. In fact, I saw more than a dozen deer, and almost all of them filtered out of the timber where I expected them to bed, and funneled right in between my stand and the pond. I couldn’t have asked for a better first stand site – and while I’m rarely this good at picking a stand based purely off a map – I certainly wasn’t going to complain about it!
That all said, after several hours of watching does and young bucks move through the area, just before last light I spotted a tall white rack about 80 yards away. It was the buck photographed below.
As he approached I realized I only had a few more minutes of shooting light, and unfortunately not enough light to get him on film, so I grabbed my bow and hoped he’d move quickly.
Unfortunately, he did not. But he did come in as if I’d scripted it – only a few minutes too late – and eventually slowly meandered across in front of me, no more than 20 yards away. At that point though, there was no chance of a shot, so I simply enjoyed watching an absolute incredible specimen of a whitetail buck with my binoculars.
After that evening I had a few more uneventful sits in which I saw plenty of does and young bucks, but no more big boys. Although that might have different if it weren’t for some kids who had decided to race their ATVS and dirt bikes all around the corn fields during the last 20 minutes of daylight, but what can you do about that.
On Sunday I decided to refrain from hunting and instead just do a little prep-work for my upcoming rut hunt. So I did some speed-scouting, hung three trail cameras, set a stand and then finally checked pictures from the camera I’d had hanging since August. In addition to the big 8 pointer above, I also got pictures of a couple nice ten pointers.
The Plan Moving Forward
So with that first weekend in Iowa in the books, from here out I’ll just be doing some more doe hunting and taking it easy until the madness of the rut truly begins. In about ten days I’ll be heading back to Iowa for a week, and then heading down to Ohio for another 7 days. It’s about to get crazy folks. Hope you’re ready!