2020: My Favorite Season Yet

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2020: My Favorite Season Yet

Unread postby bigbuckhunter88 » Tue Feb 23, 2021 3:37 pm

2020: Best Season Yet
2020 was a wild year in our house with a 4 year old, 3 year old and 18 month old. Alongside that my wife works in healthcare and that had its own craziness this year and she also hunts. I wasn't exactly sure how much time i would be able to dedicate to the woods.
This year started off with a dilemma just like most years.
The last few years I have found one buck that stood out from the rest and dedicated my entire season to hunting that buck. They weren't the same buck from year to year and weren't always on the same property. The last few years those chess matches have taken the entire bow season and ended with me in defeat. This year the same thing happened. I started my summer scouting, hung trail cameras and started spending some time behind glass trying to find some good deer to hunt. It ended up being one of the best years I can remember and I had many good bucks but one that stood out from the rest. This year however I decided I was going to just hunt and take the first deer that got the ticker beating hard.
Our opener is always October 1st but I couldn't hunt until the 2nd. That day I took my 4 year old to a double ladder stand with me. I knew it would be an experience, and we almost sealed the deal on a big old doe. He was very fidgety but he loved watching the deer. I can't wait for the days when he is the one behind the bow and gun.

I spent the following day(Saturday)with the family as my wife had been working insane hours and we hadn't had been able to see each other much. On Sunday she gave me the green light to head out on a solo mission. It was hot, no wind, and I was just kind of enjoying the evening when a nice buck caught me by surprise. He came in silent from a direction I wasn't expecting and I blew my opportunity. That was the last day I bowhunted until Halloween.
In the meantime I took my wife out 2 weekends in mid October for early muzzleloader season. She passed some small bucks and does, but just never had a good opportunity at a buck she wanted and season ended. The following weekend was Halloween/November 1st. I hunted Halloween morning with very little action and opted to take the kids Trick or Treating in the evening in 35 MPH winds instead of hunting.
November 1st 2020 was a day I will be trying to top in the whitetail woods for the rest of my life. The morning hunt was windy and mainly uneventful. Checked a card and realized I was a day late as a big buck was there the day before. That evening I was supposed to take the wife hunting but she bowed out due to wind and switched the babysitter to next weekend so I had the green light to go solo. I chose a different location where I thought I wasn't in the game, but at least in the stadium. It was a funnel between the river and an open field, I had a camera nearby but didn't have any shooters on it. I had taken the stand out of the giant, 3 trunked maple tree because it was too reclined and opted to just stand in the crotch of the tree about 12 feet up and could lean against any of the trunks. I was in and set up by 2. Half hour after settling in I caught a hind end moving through the brush across the river. I rattled, and 15 seconds later a small 2 year old was heading right to the base of the tree. I took a video with it ending with him at the tree, but took note that a deer in that path would be tough to draw on due to no cover.
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Shortly thereafter I had another small buck come right in, and then I got to watch and listen to a pair of otters doing their thing swimming up and down the river, efficiently hunting for themselves. As the sun started setting I noticed 5 does and fawns in a field a few hundred yards aways. Eventually I saw a nice young 9 pointer enter the field and start chasing a doe. He wasn't a buck I was interested in, but it was still fun to watch the show. He had her going all over and eventually I lost sight of them heading my way. A few minutes later I heard the unmistakable crunching of a deer walking on a mission. I assumed it was the 9 pointer but I got ready anyway. When the deer cleared the thicket at 30 yards heading right to me I knew what deer it was. I wasn't expecting him but there he was. He kept steady walking on the same path that the first buck took. That trail took him directly to the base of the tree. He ended up getting to the base of the tree and behind one of the trunks of the tree I was in and I drew. I held for what seemed like forever and couldn't see the deer at all. No idea if he was alerted to me drawing or relaxed. Eventually I could hear him chewing. And then heard him take a step. And then another. A wall of tines entered into view of my sight housing and the heartrate and breathing increased. I had to look away until he took another step. Now I could see only his head and neck, but my arms were about at their max. I decided to slowly lean forward until my pin cleared his shoulder and I squeezed off the shot. It sounded and felt good but at 3 yards there was no chance of seeing anything. The deer took off with me looking for a hole and blood. He stopped at 30 yards and just stood there. After a few seconds of scanning I realized I should be reloading and getting another arrow in him. I had just nocked my 2nd arrow and looked up just in time to see him start to wobble, and down he went 30 yards from stand.
Hes my dream buck. Hes got everything I could want and symmetrical to boot. The way it all happened was perfect. My phone had died sometime during the hunt so I didn't even go up to him. I went to get the family and my brother to help drag and load him. The wife was both happy and relieved that she would get her husband during November. The kids were excited for the adventure but especially the "blood, guts, and poop". Their curious little minds and imaginations were turning at full speed during the field dressing and anatomy lesson. It couldn't have gotten any better, and then I got the alert on my phone. The camera I set up there a month prior had caught that buck coming in, and in the background, in the crotch of the tree you can see an oversized squirrel. 

I had originally planned to have the week off to hunt but since I was tagged out I went back to work until Thursday, November 5th. That day happens to be my wedding anniversary and both me and my wife take that day off every year to spend together in a treestand. Since I was already tagged out we skipped the AM hunt, got the kids off to daycare, went out to do some shopping and got an early lunch, and were back in a stand around noon. That sit was one of the most intense sits I've ever been apart of. We had nonstop action from the moment we got in stand. Ranging from does and fawns, to about an hour before dark we had 2 great bucks pushing each other around, posturing, and scraping all over. Neither of the bucks came into range but it was a successful sit.
We had the following day off as well so we returned to that same stand. It was completely dead. We had been sitting for 4ish hours without any action at all when we both heard a deer making a scrape but couldn't pinpoint the location. Finally we had it narrowed down and I knew it was about to happen. He finished that scrape and headed right to us. There is another scrape at around 22 yards and he was making a beeline there. He stopped at freshened that scrape quartering towards us, and as soon as he left he started walking in front of us. Without any guidance my wife drew when he was around 18 yards, walking and behind cover. He popped out at 16 yards and she stopped him perfect. Luckily I was filming the whole ordeal as the shot looked back. The deer took off like he was hit hard and never stopped until he was out of sight and earshot. I replayed the video and confirmed the shot was a touch back, but knew the deer would be dead.

My wife immediately thought the worst. She has only killed deer with a firearm before and had wounded a deer 2 years prior with her bow. We got down and went over to her arrow that blew right through despite her low poundage, and there was blood everywhere. I told my wife that the deer was already dead and she had to have hit an artery. We backed out and went and told everyone else and lined up a sitter for a midnight track job. We returned 6 hours later and followed a walking blood trail around 200 yards to find her buck stiffened up. He had died on a run and was probably expired before I even replayed the shot on my phone.

For the first time ever my wife and I were both tagged out, and rut hadn't even gotten good yet. I spent the rest of November trying to help my brothers get on bucks (one missed at 25, and a week later the other missed the same buck) but I introduced my kids into trapping. Usually I'm trying to kill a buck so that takes a backseat but this year we put some steel out and my kids loved it.

Fast forward to 1st gun season. I always buy doe tags for all the counties we hunt and implement Iowas party hunting rule for 1st shotgun. Its a small group of mostly family and a few friends. I usually spend the week walking every push trying to get younger cousins and my dad and uncle deer. This year was no different. The first day my 13 year old cousin knocked down 2 bucks and then his brother knocked one down on the next push. My brother got a nice 10 the following day. We ended up filling all but 1 tag with 2 hours to spare on the last day. We were down to a 5 man crew and 1 guy hadn't gotten any shooting so he wanted to walk a small slough where he though the walker would have the best shots. I let everyone else pick their spots and chose to sit next to the highway where a waterway ran down. I was 20 yards into the field, knelt down in some chest high grass with the sun at my back. Not long after being set up I saw our walker coming my way. Soon he kicked up 4 does and they ran right down the waterway to me. I quick a took video as they ran by at 10 yards and said "now if only the big boy would do that."
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A few minutes later I heard our walker yell something but couldn't comprehend with the wind. 3 seconds later I watch as this big wide bruiser appears from the switch grass midstride heading right for me. The entire time he was in range but my walker was somewhere behind him. I let him get to 15 when I had to stand up, wave my arms and yell. He quickly turned on a dime and ran parallel to me. Once I knew everyone was clear I made my shot and he folded midstride. He had 1 tine that wasn't busted and a few that were broke off clean, and a super fresh broadhead hole in his shoulder(we dug the rage out when cutting him up). We were tagged out as a group for the first time in as long as I remember.

After first gun season I had a short break and just hung out with the family, got everything at work caught up on and got ready for the next season. Late season the name of the game is find where they are feeding and then make your move. I spent 3 times the amount of hours behind glass late season than I do sitting usually. Late season is also a time when I tend to be more picky than normal. The bucks have survived the majority of pressure and their likelihood of survival is higher. I happened to find a good buck coming out of a woodlot into a rye field. It was a good buck but I was more interested in getting my younger brother on him. It was one of the big bucks me and my wife had an encounter with. The following night the wind was wrong so me and my brother both watched him from afar. To our surprise he showed up but had a bigger buck with him. We slipped out trying not to spook them and also not draw attention to ourselves and gain more hunting pressure. The following night my brother went in for the kill and I went to observe the opposite side of the farm. With over an hour of daylight left I was startled with the echo of a gunshot. A few moments late my brother called and said he had gotten him. He told me he would head for the truck and we would get him out of there so hopefully the other deer wouldn't spook too bad. He looked even more impressive in person. We got some pics and then hung him up in a cooler while he had family holiday obligation.

The next evening I went to the exact same stand he had killed from to hopefully observe the other buck fully expecting him to have changed his pattern. Soon enough I had does filing out at all ranges from 4 yards to 200.

There became alot of eyes in the field and and smaller bucks were starting to show up. Soon I caught a glimpse of a rack in the timber heading for the field. One quick glance with the binos confirmed I had to try to get the gun that was hung up off the hook without clearing 20 deer in the field. Finally after about 3 minutes of stop-and-go movements I had the gun shouldered and the buck was quartered away at about 90 yards. I wanted to take my time, but some does must've caught more movement than I thought as there was one that started to stomp. I settled the crosshairs on the last rib just as he picked his head up to look my way. The shot felt great and the deer looked hit hard, but I lost him in all the commotion of the rest of the deer running through the timber. I made the phone call to my brother and then my wife and kids telling them to head out to the farm. I waited for my brother and directed him to the spot of the shot and then went to join him. I could follow his tracks for the first 10 yards without bloods and then they were lost in a maze of other hoof prints. I went to the fenceline as there was about 4 feet of snow he had to cross thinking id find blood. 1 quick pass on both sides yielded nothing and my hopes were sinking. I called my wife back and told her not to pack up the kids quite yet as it wasn't looking good. I decided to just head into the timber where he was headed. 10 yards into the timber I looked up to see the sight every hunter dreams of.


There was not 1 speck of blood from impact to where he expired that I could find. He was another great buck and capped off a season I dont know that I will top until my kids start dropping deer of their own. The late season bucks from the same stand, 1 day apart was something that will always be special. My brother hadn't caped his buck yet due to family priorities so we drug his deer out for some shots of the bucks together. What a year!
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Posts: 397
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2018 12:00 pm
Location: NE Iowa
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Re: 2020: My Favorite Season Yet

Unread postby bigbuckhunter88 » Tue Feb 23, 2021 3:38 pm

For some reason couldn't add the last 2 photos.
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