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Champions of the Wild

PhotoBy Howard Miles Sr.

-- On the morning of Oct. 30, 2001, I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and scurried around to get ready for a morning bowhunt with my good friend, Steve Johnson. I checked my gear twice to make sure I had not forgotten a single thing. Around 5 a.m., Steve arrived to pick me up, and we proceeded to a property he has been hunting for a few years, which is located in south-central Page County, Iowa.

It was a fine morning. The temperature was around 30 degrees. At about 5:20, we arrived at the property. We walked together very quietly through the cornfield to the stand I was going to hunt. Steve continued on to his stand about 600 yards west up a treeline. There was very little movement the first hour or so. Then I saw three does coming south toward my stand along a creek.

A short time later I heard something directly under my stand. I turned slowly and looked down. It was a small fawn. The fawn laid down right under me. A short time later a 125-class buck ran past my stand at about 45 yards away. Around 9 a.m., we decided to head for home and plan out what we were going to do for the afternoon hunt.
  
Steve suggested we should move our stands. We rounded a curve as we drove down the road along the bottom of a terrace and discussed where to put the stands. Steve came to sudden stop and said, "Look at that!"

To my surprise, out in the picked cornfield, were two huge bucks fighting. We watched the monsters push each other back and forth for the better part of an hour.
 
By this time, we decided that these bad boys were locked up tight and could not get apart. They worked their way across the field and tumbled over a steep bank into a creek. As we drove up to the place where we saw the bucks go over the bank, I hoped the fall had broken them apart.
 
Cautiously, we walked over and looked down the embankment. The bucks were still locked and fought their way up the creek. We decided to call the local game warden to figure out what to do. We found a phone and made the call. He suggested we shoot off one of the antlers in order to free them up. This was not the best advice because it was bow season, and we did not have any firearms with us.
 
An hour passed and we returned to check on the battling bucks. They were about a 1/4-mile up the creek in a deep hole. The younger 17-point had expired under the water. The big 9-point buck could not keep its head out of the water. I felt so helpless at that moment.

Sometimes nature teaches us some hard lessons. We located the farmer who owns this land. He agreed to bring a tractor to pull the expired deer out and load them in our truck. We informed the game warden of the events that took place. He met us in town and inspected the two brutes, took photos and green-tagged them.
 
The only good thing out of this was they did not die without a cause because we donated them to a local meat locker. I will never forget those two champions of the wild for as long as I live.

Howard Miles Sr.
College Springs, Iowa

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