By Carl Temple
-- Twenty-nine years ago, I decided to try bowhunting. I was hooked from day one. I’ve seen a lot of deer in those years, including some real jaw-droppers, but for one reason or another things just never happened the way I needed them to and I had to watch them all walk away.
On Nov. 4, 2007, I figured it would be another one of those days. I was hunting on private ground in Muscatine County, having gone out that morning to sit in my stand until about 10:30 or so. I hadn’t seen anything in the bottom, so I went to my truck and grabbed a bite to eat and checked in with some friends.
Everyone told me they were seeing deer everywhere, so I finished eating and moved to a stand on a hedgerow where a buddy shot a big buck nine years earlier. I was settled in by noon, determined not to move for the rest of the day.
Sitting in the hedgerow, I had standing corn in front of me with a light west wind blowing in my face — it was perfect for that stand.
It was quiet until about 4 p.m. when I heard faint grunting. I tried to locate the buck to see if he was a shooter when I heard something running in behind me. A big doe, yearling in tow, ran under my stand. Behind them was a 6-point buck. They ran down the edge of the corn and disappeared to the north. I waited a while to see if anything else was close by before I tried my grunt call.
I grunted a few times and I heard another series of grunts in response, so I took my Primos Can Call and bleated a few times. Then I hit the grunt call again to sound like a buck chasing a doe.
About 10 minutes later, I heard some crashing in the corn and then saw a big deer pop out about 140 yards away.
I was trying to get a better look at the deer when another popped out at 80 yards; it was a doe. The deer that was farther down turned its head to look at the doe, and I saw it was a big buck. I knew immediately it was a shooter.
The doe started to run to the timber on the west side of the corn, and the buck headed her off and chased her to the corner about 50 yards from my stand. He stood there and thrashed a little cedar in a grass opening, and that’s when I started to shake. If I was going to get that buck, I had to calm down and quit looking at its rack.
While the buck worked the scrub cedar, the doe stepped into the corn and began to walk parallel to my stand. It would make a perfect 20-yard broadside shot if the buck walked the same row.
The doe went to the end of the row and headed into the timber on the other side. I looked back, and the buck was on its way, only five rows closer to the field edge and grunting every step.
I drew my bow and picked the best spot I could see. As the buck’s head entered the clearing, I grunted with my voice. The buck took one more step and stopped and looked right at me, but it was to late — the arrow was on its way.
At the shot, the buck leapt over what seemed like five rows of corn and bounded down a row going directly away from me. All I could think was how wide the rack looked. It eventually got out of sight just before I heard a crash. A few seconds later I head another crash, then silence.
I kept praying that it was down for good and was shaking so bad I had to hang my bow up and grab the tree. Even though I had on my safety vest, I still didn’t want to test it out. It was 15 minutes before I calmed down enough to safely climb down and go look for my arrow.
I found it stuck in the ground just 12 yards from the base of the tree.
I stepped over to the row the buck had run down and spotted a drop of blood. As I looked farther down the row, I saw a very large amount of blood that was sprayed on both sides of the row and knew the buck was down.
I put an arrow in the ground in that row and backed out and went to my truck to call my best friend and hunting partner, Dave Cain, to see if he could come out to help me track.
Our wives both came along, and we all started down the row with the flashlights. It was obvious the deer had to be dead, but after 100 yards, I began to get nervous.
The corn row made a big bend, and as soon as I got around it, we found the buck. I couldn’t believe how big it was! When I pulled the rack out of the corn, I started to shake all over again. I realized that after 29 years, I finally had one of Iowa’s big bucks on the ground.
I had bought my Mathews bow from Dave previous year and told him jokingly, "I bought your luck this year and will take a trophy with it!" Little did I know how right I was. It was Dave who shot a buck from the same tree nine years before, so now we’re fighting over that spot, wondering what will happen next year.