I was excited to pull the memory card from my trail camera to see what it had captured in the past four weeks. It was the first week of November in Prince Georges County, Maryland, and the rut was heating up! I was expecting a lot of photos and hopefully a few pictures of some nice bucks.
However, upon review I was heartbroken to find that my trail camera had malfunctioned and switched to video mode on October 8th, 2014. To say I was frustrated is an understatement, but I continued to review the videos. The very last video on the card was of a buck I was hoping to photograph – a buck I named “The Iowa Giant.” Game on!
Armed with intel from my trail cameras and a few scouting missions, I used Big Game Logic to plot the information on an aerial image and create a game plan. I avoided the areas where I was not getting pictures of mature bucks, and focused my efforts hunting an inside corner. Inside corners are great travel corridors during the rut, and the time was right to catch a buck cruising in search of hot does.
My first set-up was a bust. A doe just barely came into sight passing about 100 yards away on the southern ridge of a hill located to the north of my stand. After analyzing the situation further, I realized my mistake. My stand placement needed some fine-tuning, so the next week I moved the stand about 100 yards to the ridge top where I saw the doe the previous week.
This new location gave me a distinct wind advantage. I was down wind of the main trail where the doe had passed the previous week, and my location at the ridge top allowed the wind to blow my scent over the top of deer trying to sneak in behind me. I have used a similar ridge top hunting strategy in the past with good success, so my hopes were high for this new location.
I woke up well before dawn on November 8th, but not for a morning hunt. Instead I helped a friend of mine track a deer he had wounded the night before. As we walked into the woods he asked, “Aren’t you mad that you are missing the first few hours of the hunt?”
To which I responded, “If I was meant to shoot a buck today, it won’t matter what time I get into my stand.” By 11:00AM, my camera man, Cody, and I were set up in the new stand location in the hopes of catching some midday rutting activity.
Just minutes before 2:00PM Cody exclaimed in a whisper, “There’s a good buck!” The buck stepped into the sunlight and Cody’s excitement grew, “That’s him! He’s huge! You need to grunt.”
I could not see the deer, but I trusted Cody. I grabbed my J&R Game Calls grunt call and grunted. The buck did not even pick up his head; rather he turned and walked straight to us. At 15 yards, I was waiting at full draw, and when he stepped out past a nearby poplar tree I buried the 20-yard pin of my Montana Black Gold Ascent site right behind his shoulder and squeezed the trigger of my Hot Shot Tempest release.
I watched as the Deer Crossing SD arrow tipped with a Steelforce Phathead SOB broad head passed through the upper portion of his rib cage like a hot knife through butter spurting blood upon impact as if I had just shot a can of red spray paint. It was a good hit, and we heard him fall just out of sight. An hour later we got down from the stand, and there “The Iowa Giant” lay only 40 yards from where I shot him.
This was one of the most exhilarating hunts of my life, and this biggest buck I have ever harvested. Best of all we got the hunt on film (click here to view on YouTube)! I love it when a plan comes together and ends with a successful harvest. Thank you, Big Game Logic for providing a website with the tools I needed to put the pieces of the puzzle together and take this magnificent buck!
About the author: Tim Cool, creator of Prodigy Outdoors, is a Deer Steward II certified by the Quality Deer Management Association. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Forestry and Wildlife Biology from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and has been bow hunting since he was 14 years-old.