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Iowa Public Land Monarch

“Your Adventures” guest blog post by Edwin Shirts, Owner of Mr. Wingbones Custom Calls

The 2014 season deer season started in October and I had not given it a second thought, I knew I was going to hunt for the infamous timber mirage we all know as the Whitetail Buck. Early in the season it is usually warm and the mosquitos are out in full force, and the itch weed, poison ivy, and poison oak are there to make the hunt a little uncomfortable. I am the kind of hunter that has experienced each one of these nuisances and am not a fan of any of them.

IMG_5411Halloween came and I have not even been in a tree, I took my nephew on a fall turkey hunt for his first adventure of hunting. We harvested a hen on our first outing. This young man is so hooked and eager to learn all he can from a veteran hunter such as me. He also is very intelligent and learns so fast. The questions he asks challenge me to teach him what he feels he needs to understand about hunting. I am honored to have this task, as the children are our future of conservation and hunting. Take a young one and teach them positive results that hunting provides.

I put in for vacation for the 2nd week of November, as I do every year, so I can be in the fall woods which are supposed to have the rut in full swing. I started out, with another nephew of mine and we took our bows and climbing tree stands and headed out to my favorite public hunting land. We had some excellent encounters our first night out. We left our stands hooked to the trees, so our journey in the next morning would be a little easier and quieter. We saw some deer and got the nephew a shot at a terrific buck, and he put the arrow right over his back and we watched him run off healthy as could be. I reassured my brother’s son that his clean miss insured the buck no harm and he will still be around to hunt another day. The nephew had to work so I would get to hunt all alone for the whole week. I love the solitude that bow hunting provides.

2014-11-13_14-34-16_273[1]There are a lot of things that you can take away from each hunt that will provide beautiful memories. I have taken something from each year that holds me over and keeps the fever in me anticipating what could be for the next season. This year, as I sat in my tree 20 ft in the air, I watched the leaves fall to the earth. Each one had its own gyrating pattern and spin as it fell to the earth. I cannot explain the true feeling watching this happen, but it was surreal for me. Of all the years I have hunted, I have watched the leaves fall every year, but this year for some reason they took on a whole new meaning. Maybe, I am getting older and looking at everything in my life in a different manner. Either way I am happy to have been able to experience this act of nature.

I hunted hard all week long, and I can honestly say that for the past two seasons the “Heavy Horns” rattling bag by Hunters Specialties has proven its worth in the fall woods. For the past two seasons I harvested a couple of nice bucks that I would guess to be in the 140 range. This year the rattling did not seem to be working as well. Maybe the does were not in heat as much as we would like them to be. Never the less, I took my hot doe scent and applied a drag trail into my hunting setup each day. I saw deer every day of my vacation week, and midweek I was able to harvest a nice mature doe.   The end of the week, I called a friend of mine that has hunted with me during the second week of November the past couple of years and we formulated a game plan. I told him of the great bucks I have seen all week and we discussed who would sit where. We had a game plan and I was super excited to get to the woods. Bill, my hunting partner for the next day had purchased this spray that was a dominant buck scent. He said it would make the big bucks come in and give us a chance to harvest one.   I was telling him about this ten pointer that came in the day before, and I was not comfortable with the 40 yard shot. He was perfect broadside and a slight wind, so I opted not to shoot. I pride myself to be responsible enough to only take shots that I feel will get the job done. After this beautiful chocolate rack 10 pointer left the area, a half hour later I heard the clash of horns and the heavy stomping in the leaves of deer running. That was when I noticed this giant buck chasing the chocolate 10 away from his area. Bill had informed me that we were in a great spot for the next morning.

2014-11-15_11-32-56_237[1]The next morning, 11-15-2014 came early and it was cold out. Calm winds and quiet woods was the scenario we arrived to at the public land hunting land we were about to embark into. The night before I had carried my climber out of the woods as I had been sitting in Bill’s favorite tree. Several years ago Bill harvested a beautiful tall tined buck that measured just over 150. He wanted his tree, and I informed him that 90% of all the deer I had seen were using a trail that was 15 yds adjacent to the tree we picked out for me. He said that was fine he still wanted his tree, and I did not argue. I gladly took my tree, and laid down my scent trail of a hot doe leading to the stand, and Bill put out a few scent wicks around his tree 40 yds away from me. He also sprayed this dominant buck scent on some trees on the hike in and around his tree. We had a very mature doe come by in the first half hour of shooting but she did not come close enough and I could not turn her with a few bleats from the hot doe bleat can by Hunter Specialties. A little after sunrise Bill informed me that he had to get down out of the tree and go back to his truck because he had to relieve himself (if you know what I mean). I texted him and told him to take his buck spray and hit the trees again on the way out and back in. He climbed down and did his business and came back spraying this stuff periodically on his way back in. This took place around 7:30 am and a half hour later I hit the bleat can and followed it up with a few tending grunts on my Woods Wise grunt call and I heard a crashing noise to my Northeast a hundred yards away. I looked and I saw a big brown body with tall white tines heading down the trail that was leading to my stand. I looked over at Bill and motioned a big buck and he grabbed his bow and stood there on his platform watching this event unfold. I stood there holding my Hoyt bow, watching this giant come in all bristled up. I think it was because of the spray that Bill had sprayed and the hot doe scent that was dominating this particular section of public land. This monarch was convinced there was a hot doe and a buck with her. He knew this was his neck of the woods and by his body posture I am sure he was coming in prove to this other buck that was “his” hot doe.

20141115_113030I ranged this tree along the trail the buck was on. I had ranged these trees several times throughout the week but I always get caught up in the moment and forget which one was what. I looked at the distance the range finder told me and it read 22 yds. The trail was on my side of this particular tree, and the buck walked past this tree a little and ended up a little closer than the distance I ranged. He stood there quartering towards me and I came to full draw, he did not even look up. He stood there looking over to the west and was trying to figure out where this buck and doe were. I lowered my twenty yard pin to just below the top of his shoulder and I gently squeezed the release. I watched my arrow fly and hear the thump of the broad head hitting the body of the beast. I am shooting a 3-blade Rage broad head on a Terminator Hunter 4560 Carbon Express arrow. The bow is set up with a 60 lb draw weight. The buck turns and starts to leave with my arrow, I am screaming inside as I might have made the worst shot I could possibly make. I watch the buck trot off tail down for what seemed like eternity. I lost sight of him and I looked over at Bill and he was watching the buck from his angle. The moment had come and passed now it is time to reflect and think what just happened. I started texting Bill, asking his opinion. I was sick, I had just made a mistake that we all dread? I sat down, and my phone started vibrating and it was Bill calling me and he said we was going to have to give him some time as he did not see him go down and hear the famous crashing of a BBD. I told him that was my conclusion also.

20141115_112609The next few hours were sickening, we resumed hunting as it was the magical time to be in the fall woods. I also made a post on Facebook about shooting a monster and I was unsure it was a great shot. The response this post got was amazing. My phone blew up, and I had so much support and questions which helped me slow down and rethink the whole scenario. To everyone who helped me remain a little more calm I thank you. 11:05 am I text Bill explaining to him that it had been three hours, that I wanted his opinion as to how much longer we should wait. He motioned to the ground, the moment had arrived. I was about to find out the results of what had my stomach in several knots. We climbed down and I felt even worse, I did not want to jump this buck if he was still alive.

We start off to where the buck was standing when I released an arrow at him, me with my bow in hand. I told Bill I am in no hurry, Bill agreed we will take it slow and easy as quietly as we can. We follow the trail and the foliage around us is waist high and you can see these skinny highways carved through this sea of green foliage. Thick cover at its best, and then there was a decision, you could see two splits diagonally veering off the trail. One went left and one went right, I whispered to Bill I would take the one on the right.

20141115_112953I started down this lonely track and walked about 20 yds and happened to catch something to my right. All of my sickness left me and I was immediately filled with relief and joy. I got Bill’s attention and we came over and stared at this monarch. Bill told me he was in shock, this buck is way bigger than he originally thought. I was grinning ear to ear and all I kept saying over and over was ” Oh My God!”.   This guy did not storm off like we all expect to see and have seen time and again. Here he was the best buck I have ever had the pleasure of harvesting. This guy will find a spot on my wall and I will never forget the day I shot an Iowa Public Land Giant.

Let’s not forget all about the leaves and their gyrating acrobatic dance to the earth from the perch they lived on all summer. What a feeling I have, and will be glad to relive it over and again.

“Your Adventures”

You can share your stories here on Victory Outdoors. Do you have a great Story or Video to share with us about “Your Adventures”; hunting, fishing, anything outdoors; we would love to see it. We all have different passions for the outdoors and we would like to hear from you, our readers. The best stories and videos will be posted to the Victory Outdoors Blog. It’s quick and easy to share. Simply email us your story and a few pictures and/or video link (YouTube) at curt.goettsch@gmail.com we will get “Your Adventures” posted as soon as we can, Thank You!

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