Buckmasters Magazine

New Year’s Eve Bonanza

New Year’s Eve Bonanza

By Paul Olsen

Talk about waiting until the last minute to make a deer season!

December 31, 2006, dawned clear and cold in south-central Iowa — the stuff of a whitetail hunter’s dreams. A winter storm was forecast. We had planned to hunt the late muzzleloader season in Madison County (as in “The Bridges of …”) for some time. The weather didn’t concern us, because our hunting grounds had some warm and comfortable box blinds.

The late muzzleloader season is an evening hunt in southern Iowa, so we waited until 3 p.m. to head to the blinds. The wind was blowing from the northwest in excess of 30 miles per hour, and it was spitting sleet and snow. I wondered what self-respecting deer would be out in such a storm and questioned my intelligence for leaving a nice warm cabin.

But it was the first major snow storm of the year, and the conditions were just what the doctor ordered. Whitetails lose much of their caution and lower their guard as they bounce and play in the first snow.

We had divided into two groups. I went with a family friend, J.R. Johnson, to act as his guide. We picked a blind on a food plot in the Jones Creek bottoms in Madison County. My son, Chad, and my grandson, Hunter, went to the blind on the high pasture ground directly above us, also a great food plot.

We hadn’t been in the blind five minutes when we began to see deer — lots of them. At one time, I counted 34 does and small bucks in the food plot, but nothing we considered shooting. At 4:05 p.m., we heard a shot from up the hill behind us, which we would later learn was Hunter harvesting a 160-class 12-pointer.

We continued to see deer; they seemed to be having a great time in the snow. At 4:50, we spotted a large buck coming from the east and moving right at us. The buck walked to within 20 yards of the blind and stayed there for an eternity.

He finally presented a quartering shot, and the rest, as they say, is history. We waited the obligatory half hour, and by that time it was very dark and the snow had covered the trail. We decided to come back the next morning to look for the buck. As those who have done this know, it makes for a long, sleepless night as visions of coyotes eating your trophy or a hundred other fates dance in your head.

The next morning, we started from where we’d last seen the deer. It was only about 40 yards to where the buck was piled up. The snow made him barely visible except for the large rack sticking out. It made us wonder how we’d missed him the night before.

The rack is tall and heavy with 11 points and scores in the 140s. Such bucks are common in southern Iowa, but to get two of them within a quarter of a mile of each other on the same afternoon is not.

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This article was published in the Winter 2008 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Join today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.

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