By Lisa L. Price
Photo courtesy of: Denny Kommes
After Labor Day, when most hunters focus on scouting and finding the perfect places for intercepting deer, Denny Kommes turns his attention to another kind of harvesting. For about 14 hours a day, he works on a crew combining corn and bean fields.
In addition to helping put vegetables on tables across America, the Exira, Iowa, hunter can also "bring home the bacon," or in this case, venison. His work schedule means that he only gets to hunt one weekend a year. But in 2004, Denny made the most of his time in the field, knocking down a slammer that he'll remember for all the weekends - and weekdays - of his life.
"We may chase out some deer while combining, but doing that kind of work doesn't allow any time for scouting and not much time for hunting," he said. "We start in September, and, usually, with 45 farms or so to do, we're working through November, sometimes as many as 100 hours a week."
Denny runs a piece of equipment called the auger wagon, which catches the harvest from the combining equipment and transfers it to trucks. In addition to running the wagon, he also tends to any mechanical problems.
Out of the 45 farms Denny saw from the seat of the auger wagon, one almost screams "deer!"
"It's not an easy farm to combine, because the fields are surrounded by trees. And there are a lot of draws coming up through the fields," he explained.
Denny Kommes might not remember how many bushels of beans and corn he ferried from combines to trucks in 2004, but he'll never forget his harvest of Dec. 4.
Photo courtesy of: Denny Kommes
"Places like that are hard to combine because it's hard to get the equipment turned around."
The farm's fields were also braced with plenty of terraces, which are raised banks of dirt pushed in rolls around hillsides to stop erosion. Still, the gnarly draws of the farm stuck in his mind. On Saturday, Dec. 4, 2004, he and friend Bob Jensen headed there with plans to make the most of their time.
"We were doing mini-drives for each other, working along the creeks and draws," Denny said. "But we weren't scaring much out. By 11 a.m., we had seen only a couple of does and were thinking we'd have been better off with more people walking."
When the morning warmed to above freezing, Denny considered taking a break. But then he saw a large-bodied deer heading up a draw.
"Right away, I was thinking, 'Oh yeah!' I knew it was a good one," he said.
"Even from a couple hundred yards away, it looked big."
The buck was angling away from Denny, and if it remained on its path, the deer would soon disappear over a ridge. The giant whitetail continued up the draw, disappearing for a few moments, and then popped over a terrace a scant 50 or 60 yards from Denny, who quickly lifted his 12 gauge and trained the gun's scope on the buck's shoulder. Knowing he wouldn't get a second shot, with the ridge just a few jumps away for the deer, he squeezed the trigger.
"After I shot, for about two full seconds, the buck just stood there as if nothing had happened," Denny said. "It finally jumped toward the ridge, but then its head went down, all the way until the antlers drove into the ground. The momentum flipped the animal."
The slug had obliterated the buck's heart.
Even before he approached the deer, Denny began calling people.
"Bob and I arrived at the buck at the same time," Denny said. "I was still calling people. Before I knew it, Bob had finished gutting the deer.
"Bob was joking with me, saying that he knew our hunting was over for the day. Now that I'd gotten mine, I would just want to drive around and show everybody," Denny laughed. "And he was right."
Hunter: Denny Kommes
Official Score: 173 3/8"
Composite Score: 192 3/8"
-- Reprinted from the September 2007 issue of Buckmasters RACK Magazine