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TJ Nagel has been involved in the outdoors his entire life. Hunting and fishing at every opportunity!

A Perfect Day…. BBD – IOWA RUT

I’m lucky to be in a position in my life that I can dedicate this time of year to my favorite pastime, chasing the elusive whitetails in famed Iowa. Spending the better part of every day in the timber since the 20th of October, I have had more than enough time to access the quality and quantity of deer in the area.

I would love to say I have the ability to have access to thousands of private acres that are all under intense management. However this is the not the case; although I do have private leases that I have been working very hard to control, properties all around the areas I hunt put me in a very difficult situation. It’s very difficult to produce mature 4 ½ year old deer in an area that has very limited timber country and very high amounts of pressure. Even if you grow them, feed them and protect them to get to maturity only to hear that someone on the neighboring property has shot another adolescent deer.

The Ultimate in Odor-Control Camo Storage.

Even so, I hold out each year for what I would consider to be a mature deer. To say the last couple weeks were frustrating would be a flat out understatement! In fact I have not missed a day in the stand in 17 straight days. Both day and night and the last week all day vigils, to have only seen one button buck in four days while on stand.

This day started as all others have over the last few weeks. Wake up, check the wind direction and temperature, shower, pack my Watson Airlock Bag and hit the road toward the timber. I chose a stand that would work for a strong south wind. I have a stand that I don’t hunt this time of year often; it’s more of an early season stand that’s surrounded by tall grass and a very steep ravine. In all the years hunting this piece of land I have never seen a deer come out of that steep ravine on the side my stand hangs on. It is almost straight up and down.

I arrived at my stand at 5:56a.m., a good ½ hours before legal shooting time. The strong 20-25mph south wind was very cold, cutting through me in the pre-dawn darkness. Shortly after daybreak doe emerged from the heavy cover being dogged by a very nice 130” 8pt. I had trail cam pictures of this buck and knew he would press the edge of my willpower if presented with a shot, heavy framed and thick mature body. For whatever reason I chose to not attempt a shot although he presented several broadside passes at less than 30 yards.

The buck had only one thing on his mind, and it was amazing to see the courtship take place. Unlike young deer that chase hard this seasoned buck slowly tended this doe, guarding her closely. With tender care I watched as this buck mounted and bread this doe twice within an hour. On two separate occasions smaller bucks; a yearling fork horn and an 8 pt 2 ½ year old, where quickly dispersed from the area with ears back and heavy charges. Each time the buck would slowly return to the area and gently nose the doe as she stayed bedded.

TJ Nagel and his 2012 Iowa Buck

As I watched the courtship continue with both the buck and doe now bedded, I heard a loud deep grunt from the CRP straight behind me. Turning my head quickly I could see a large mature deer heading straight down the opposite edge of the steep ravine behind me. I attempted to grab my PSE EVO off the bow hanger with no luck, so I needed to turn to retrieve it. As I turned back around I could see 5 clear tines jetting straight up. I had no time to worry about scores…I started to my draw my EVO. My elbow hit my safety strap so I had to twist my body to come to full draw. Swinging quickly back on the buck I tried to mouth grunt to stop him, however he was totally fixed on the rival buck that was now standing. I placed my pin solid on his shoulder, without a conscious thought the arrow was on its way.

There was no question of the Muzzy tipped Carbon Express hit- solid perfect in the lungs. The buck surged forward after a mule kick, but to my surprise he didn’t take off in a full blitz, he charged ears back and head low right at the 8pt that quickly retreated. As he walked just out of view behind a windfall, he had no idea he was ever hit.

I could hardly believe what had just happened. I now had a chance to see this buck first hand. I had several trail cam pictures of this buck from last year and this year, but this was the first time I had seen him in daylight hours. The rut in Iowa is truly a great time to be a bow hunter.



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