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A Day to Remember

WillieBy Troy Willie

-- During Iowa’s 2007 gun season, I found some large rubs that primed my pump. I couldn’t wait to resume bowhunting. It had been five years since I’d had the time and lived in an area where I could enjoy hunting with my bow.

I was really pumped on the first morning. What a great time I had listening as the woods came alive. But it was warm, somewhere between 50 and 60 degrees, and the deer were not moving. Eventually, my rattling and grunting lured in a big 8-pointer. It came within 25 yards, but I had no shot.

Later that evening, I stumbled across a huge rub near my stand that kicked my heart into overdrive. On the way home, I ran into the farmer who owns the land, and he told me he’d seen a nice 12-pointer in the area.

The next days of my weeklong hunt reeled by slowly, thanks to the unseasonably warm weather. I grew restless and scouted a new tract along the river bluff. It was rough ground.

I couldn’t shake the image of that rub, though, so I decided to return to it.

I actually saw the deer the farmer told me about, too. It was in a hay field, well out of range.

As the week wore on, the temperature finally began to cool. I returned to the steep river bluff with my climbing stand. I jumped a doe en route. I climbed 25 feet, very happy with the southeast wind.

About an hour into the hunt, I saw a little 7-pointer pick up the trail of the doe I’d spooked earlier. Off it went, which was sort of a relief. After a little more time passed, here came an 8-pointer chasing a doe. Behind them was a second buck.

While I was watching those three deer, another doe came running from a different direction with a 4-pointer on her heels. Wow, two chases in one spot … with THREE bucks! Things got even better when I saw a fourth buck – falling into the second chase. The last one was no doubt a shooter. I figured it for a 150-class 10-pointer. The doe didn’t know which way to run.

The big one wound up chasing her right past me at 40 yards before both disappeared.

A little while later, a stick snapped in the direction of the bluff. It was the same nervous doe, and she passed within 10 feet of my tree. Next to arrive was the shooter buck. As it darted past at 18 yards, I tried unsuccessfully to stop it. Nevertheless, I took the shot, and the 125-grain broadhead tore into its shoulder.

When the buck hit the ground 40 yards into its retreat, I threw up my arms.

During “the wait,” yet another 150-inch buck – that one an 11-pointer with a split P-2 – raced past my tree at only 10 yards. It chased a doe around there for about 30 minutes. In all my years of hunting, I’ve never witnessed so much activity from one spot.

When the last of the deer had gone, I was anxious to see my buck up close and to wrap my hands around its rack. My best-ever bow buck experienced no ground shrinkage. My next joy was in asking my brother-in-law for help.

--Troy Willie

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