I arrived home today to a large box on the front porch and I knew right away what it was. My giant Iowa buck had finally made it home after five years. Back in 2008 I got the chance to go on what I thought was my dream hunt at the time but boy was I surprised by the outcome. So let me give you the skinny of the story as it happened. I found a guide I thought I could trust so I went ahead and applied for my tag, which I didn’t get by the way. I guess in a desperate measure to save his business the outfitter told me to just buy a doe tag, and I could party hunt on their tags to go after a buck. Wow could that be true I thought, I was actually still going to get to go. Now believe me I was young, dumb, and well you know, but I did do my research and called Iowa DNR and asked if party hunting was such a thing. They verified that party hunted existed and was legal but that was it, they didn’t go into specifics, which if they did the story may have turned out differently. Anyway as far as I was concerned I was going to Iowa to get my big buck, hopefully. After a 17 hour trip I was finally there and I met up with the outfitter and he took me to the property, showed me around, and introduced me to my guide. I asked about the party hunting right away and the guide pulled a bunch of tags from his pocket and said ” we’re good to go” so I feel even more confident about the whole thing. This was a semi-guided hunt so I drove myself back and forth and could pretty much do what I needed to get it done. The guide was staying on the land and told us to just call him if we shot a deer and he would tag it. I can’t remember ever being so pumped for an opening day of deer hunting ever so I quickly checked in my hotel and hit the sack. I was bright and early the next morning and was greeted by a nice 17 degree Iowa morning but it didn’t matter. I got on stand and waited for the action to begin. Not long after light the shots began and I was seeing deer running everywhere. When I say deer I mean bucks too, lots of bucks, and I passed on several bucks that I would of shot at home. About mid morning I had a giant cross the field on me and man I tell you this was the biggest buck I’ve ever seen, had to be around 200″ no lie, but he was a good 250 yards in 30 mph winds with a shotgun so I had to watch him run off. The rest of the day went like the morning, lots of deer but no shooters in range. I remember counting 26 bucks that day, how crazy is that. The next day was pretty much the same as the first but a cold front was moving in and it was getting colder. I woke up that 3rd morning to a whopping zero degrees, yep there was a big 0 on my rear view mirror, never seen that before. I hunted as hard as I could but it was brutally cold that morning and about 11am I had to return to the truck as I was freezing. While walking back I had a herd of deer coming across the field so I slipped into a brush pile and got my binoculars, and too my delight it was a herd of about 6 bucks and one big shooter. I got ready, heart pounding, adrenaline flowing as I waited for to get closer. The see finally got to about 100 yards, so I steadied the crosshairs on the beast and fired. He jumped a little but kinda just trotted with the group like he wasn’t hit but as I watched he stopped, stood there for a minute and just dropped. Holy cow I just smoked the biggest buck of my life. Did I mention it wasn’t cold anymore as I sprinted out to see my buck.
I called the guide and he came right out and tagged the buck, called in got a confirmation number and as far as I was concerned I was golden. I had never felt better as we loaded the buck into the truck, and I headed for a celebration breakfast. Now I was about to leave cause I still had a doe tag to fill but I did plan on sleeping in the next morning. While getting dressed the next day I had a knock at my hotel door and I was very surprised to see Iowa DNR, considering everything that had gone down seemed legal to me as far as I knew anyway. They proceeded to fill me on on the details, and more details, and finally how party hunting really worked out there, and yes I was fooled. In Iowa for party hunting to be legal the guy with the tag has to be part of the hunt, either sitting with you or driving deer to you. You see my guide had a big family and a lot of tags and had been working the grey area for a long time and DNR finally caught up to him. Since the beginning of that season they had him and all the hunters he brought under surveillance and were just building their case and I was now one of the blocks. I gave them all I knew and I wrote a statement about how the guide got me out there, but they still took my buck. I guess the important part of the story is I didn’t get into any trouble.
This is my buck on the back of the DNR truck before they took him from me. I could of cried but I kept it together. So I guess the moral of the story is too really do your research and know each states laws 100% before you hunt there. It took me five years of letters and pleading to get my buck back but I did, and now I’m over come with memories, good and bad, but it was all worth it. Each journey in life is a lesson so be sure to learn from them. Here are some pics of the beast today.
SHOOT EM WHEN YOU SEE EM!!!