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Obsessed with bowhunting whitetails and running trail cams! Love fishing, 3D Archery, camping, and teaching hunter education. Been a member of the Mossy Oak ProStaff since 2008 and is excited to become a part of the team here at Victory Outdoors.

Dan’s Iowa Shotgun Season

20141207_100455The first full week of December in Iowa, I hang the bow up for a few days and get together with friends and family for the first shotgun season. The season is only five days long, so you try to make the most of every minute of legal shooting time. This is a time when the experience is quite different than my usual archery and muzzleloader hunting. I hunt with a group that averages about ten people every year, most of them being members of my wife’s family.

20141208_134908Party hunting is allowed, which means as long as someone is present during the hunt, their tag can be used on a deer someone else shot, and even if they are tagged out, they can continue to hunt with the group, as long as someone has a valid tag left in their pocket. These rules can cause some tension between different factions of the hunting community. There seems to be some animosity between the deer drivers and the stand hunters, and the trophy hunters against the meat hunters. There are a lot of people in the woods during this season, so safety is a major concern, especially with groups pushing deer toward one another. If done correctly, this can be a safe and effective way to control the deer population.
20141209_085203This year the weather was almost perfect. The daily highs were in the mid 30’s and the lows were in the lower 20’s. The weather can play a major role in the amount of hunters as well as the amount of deer movement. You can never be sure what the weather will do, as it was around 4 degrees on opening morning last year, and close to 70 degrees the year before. Even with the mild temperatures, you need to dress warm enough to withstand the cold wind if you end up blocking an escape route in an open field, but not so warm that you are soaked with sweat on some of the longer drives, especially in the rough terrain along the rivers in eastern Iowa where I hunt. This year I kept track of how much walking I did through a step counting app on my phone. I was surprised to learn in four and a half days of hunting I walked over 55 miles.
20141208_154039The highlight of my season this year came early on. I was waiting at the top of a ridge for everyone else to get set up for a drive. I was watching a couple does on a ridge around 200 yards away when I heard shooting farther down the draw. I turned my head to see a group of deer headed my way. They came up toward me, but turned to go up the next ridge over. I saw the last deer in the group was a good buck, but he was just over 100 yards away, so I couldn’t tell specifically how big or old he might be, but I could tell he was a good one. He stopped broadside to survey the landscape and I settled my sights on his shoulder. I squeezed the trigger and I thought he flinched, but he bounded over the ridge out of sight. As the group of deer ran off, my niece’s fiancé shot at them as they came closer to him. Almost as soon as they were gone, I saw the signal to head down the draw.

20141206_084829I was pretty bummed. My first shot of the season was at a good buck and I had blown it. We neared the end of the push and I got close enough to my niece’s fiancé to ask if he had hit any of the deer at the start. He said he missed, but the one I shot at had gone down just over the hill. As I made my way back up the finger to the starting point, I saw the buck laying on the side of the hill, just 30 yards from where he stood when I shot him. The shot was nearly perfect, going through his lungs with the slug lodging in his offside shoulder. He’s not my biggest deer, but he is the biggest I’ve shot with a gun and I’m proud to have killed him with a good clean shot.

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