It took a couple of nocks, literally, but Steve Binkley of Lamoni, Iowa, received his Halloween treat four days early in 2008.
Even after Steve’s first arrow drove home, the buck he shot on Oct. 27 took only a few hops before watching the thoroughly discombobulated bowhunter nock another arrow and trip his release a second time. Moments later, the deer sucked in its last breath just as Steve remembered to take in his first since watching vanes disappear into brown hair.
Steve knew it was going to be a great day – or rather evening – as he was watching the clock at work, waiting for quitting time at 1:30. A cold front was creeping into Decatur County, and that usually gets the deer on their feet.
At the appointed half-hour, Steve drove home, jumped in the shower and lathered up with scent-eliminating body wash. He then dressed in record time and headed for the block of land he’d been thinking about all day, a tract he’d only recently gained permission to hunt.
That’s another way of saying he hadn’t had much time to acquaint himself with the land beyond looking at a topographical map the farmer had given him. He’d hunted the farm a few times, though, always from a ladder stand he and his brother, Mike, had set up on the west side of a large block of timber.
He’d never seen a deer there.
Now, facing a north wind, Steve decided to shoulder his climber and explore a different spot within the same block.
“I got to the farm and decided I was going to hunt the south side of the timber,” he said. “I drove through the gate and most of the way to my destination. I parked my truck on the far side of a hill, put on my camo, which I keep in a plastic tote, grabbed my climber stand, and then headed for the woods.”
Steve encountered quite the menagerie from that point forward, beginning with a flock of turkeys.
“As soon as I rounded the southwest corner of the timber, I saw a bunch of turkeys on the far side of the pasture. I really didn’t want to spook them, but they were right where I wanted to go,” he said. “Apparently, however, I didn’t spook them too badly, because as I made way deeper into the timber, they stayed only about 30 yards in front of me.”
About the time Steve stopped to let the birds get out of sight, he spotted a very nice 160-class 10-pointer moving through the woodlot and knelt behind a nearby cedar.
“I couldn’t believe it. I had been there only a short while and was already in the middle of some great action. I hadn’t even made it to where I was heading and there, not even 40 yards away, was a shooter buck,” he said.
Much to Steve’s surprise, the 10-pointer bedded down before passing by the cedar tree. There was nothing he could do but wait.
Ten minutes later, the sound of rustling leaves caused Steve to look over his shoulder. An opossum ambled to within five feet of him before finally noticing the hunkered man and hastily reversing direction. The bedded buck paid no attention to the marsupial’s retreat.
Moments later, Steve’s antler gazing was again interrupted, that time by a raccoon. It, too, reversed course when it saw the man beside the cedar tree.
When Steve looked back at the buck, it had stood and was looking in his direction.
“I was positive it couldn’t smell me and hadn’t seen me, so I decided to grunt,” Steve said. “It worked, too, but the deer stayed in a thicket. It came to within 20 yards, but then it must have either seen me or decided something wasn’t right. It turned and slowly walked away.”
Steve was bummed, but there was still plenty of time left to find a place and climb a suitable tree. He found one in a small clearing at the head of a deep ravine that eventually spilled into an alfalfa field.
Not long after he was aloft, two does ventured into the clearing. Steve saw them as venison on the hoof and reached for his bow. But one of the deer-burgers saw him as he started to draw, and that was that.
Ever the optimist, Steve looked at his watch and decided his day wasn’t finished. “There’s still plenty of daylight,” he told himself. “I’m going to shoot a monster.”
The next hour passed uneventfully.
“Right at 6:00, I decided to do a grunt sequence,” Steve said. “After about five or six short grunts, I heard a noise in the leaves … under a canopy of smaller trees. Right then, an awesome buck stepped into sight only about 40 yards away from me!”
In a nanosecond, Steve was holding his bow and looking for shooting lanes. He was hoping the buck would continue in a straight line, which would put it in the wide open for a 15- to 20-yard chip shot.
The deer did indeed stay the course, but it stopped 10 yards short of the lane.
“Come on … a couple more steps, and you’re mine,” Steve coaxed.
The buck, oblivious to the splashes of hunter drool in the leaves below Steve’s tree, began hooking a low hanging branch 15 yards away. It even made a scrape – a brushy oak preventing any hope of a shot.
“After what seemed like an eternity, the buck did something I wasn’t expecting. It turned and walked almost directly under me,” Steve said. “I drew quickly, settled my pin and released. He was so close that I didn’t even see my arrow. All I saw was the hair on its back flick.
“It ran about 25 yards, stopped and turned back to see what had happened. I thought I had only nicked it.
“It stood there and watched me nock another arrow, draw and shoot again,” he continued. “By that time, I was shaking like a leaf.”
Although the follow-up shot didn’t hit the buck where Steve had been aiming, the animal stumbled and fell in some tall grass about 10 yards into its final retreat.
“At that point, I couldn’t see the deer and I was absolutely freaking out,” Steve said. “I called my wife to tell her what had just happened. She tried to calm me while I kept babbling that it was the biggest deer I’d ever seen.”
When the sun dipped below the horizon, Steve got down and snuck toward the grass where he’d last seen the deer. Much to his relief, it was lying there.
“I set my bow down, grabbed one of its legs and pulled the deer out of the grass so I could get a better look at it. When those antlers came into view, I almost collapsed,” he said.
Steve stood admiring the rack for a long time, thanking his dad for ushering him into the deer hunting fraternity.
Editor’s Note: Steve and his brother, Mike, now operate B&B Outfitting (www.bboutfitting.com) in Decatur County. For more information, check out the website or call (641) 414-7671.
Editor’s Note: Want to read more tales about the world’s greatest whitetails? Subscribe to Rack magazine by calling 1-800-240-3337 or click here.
Hunter: Steve Binkley
BTR Official Score: 233 6/8
BTR Composite Score: 251 7/8
Weapon: Compound Bow
Location: Decatur County, Iowa
Date: October 27, 2008