Be careful that the time you shave off a hunt isn’t your 15 minutes of fame.
As soon as Joe Daubner heard the ka-thump of a deer landing on his side of the fence, he instantly regretted having lowered his bow to the ground.
The Iowa bowhunter had concluded he wasn’t going to get an opportunity at the non-typical whitetail he’d watched chasing a doe the length of a nearby CRP field. Rather than wait those last few minutes, he decided to get down and walk to his car before more deer drifted into the stubble.
The idea might have been sound, in theory, but the time he was willing to shave was almost his own 15 minutes of fame.
When it became obvious the buck was going to stroll within range, Joe had only a rope in his hands. He tried to remedy that, but his bow sight hung on the barbed wire fence at the base of the cedar he’d climbed.
With no small degree of finesse, he finally managed to re-hoist it and nock an arrow.
“Just as I was attaching my release to the D-loop, the buck stopped and turned broadside at 17 yards,” Joe said.
The arrow smacked it a moment later, and the deer bolted past Joe and re-jumped the fence south of his stand. He wasn’t sure how much oomph the buck had or where it crossed because cedar limbs obstructed his view.
Joe almost didn’t go hunting that Monday, Oct. 20.
He left his workplace, the city’s road department, and arrived home at about 4:30. Because the wind was wrong for the stand he wanted to hunt, he considered not going at all. But after nearly 20 minutes of watching daylight burn, he decided he’d hang a stand in a fenceline cedar close to where he’d seen some mature does enter a cut cornfield three days earlier.
While he was climbing into the tree to saw limbs, Joe scared a 150- to 160-inch 9-pointer, which ran into the nearby bedding area.
“That worried me a little,” said the 27-year-old. “I just knew that buck was going to spook all the other deer in there.”
After pruning the north side of the tree and hanging the Hawk stand 13 feet off the ground, sans his usual climbing sticks, Joe returned to his car to get his bow.
The main deer trail was south of his stand, and the wind was blowing out of the northwest. Ordinarily, Joe would avoid that combination, but he wanted to put his two-week-old Ozonics unit to the test. With the temperature in the 70s, it was certainly hot enough to make his scent stream pungent.
If opportunity knocked, Joe thought he might even shoot a doe that evening.
Shortly after 5:30, two does slipped out of a nearby brushy draw to his right and eventually disappeared. Then another doe and her fawn emerged from the adjacent CRP. When momma suddenly jerked her head up to stare northward, Joe followed her gaze to a mature buck making a scrape just 50 yards from her.
When the two deer saw each other, the buck chased the doe from one end of the CRP to the other until she finally broke away from her pursuer. By then, Joe had recognized the buck as the one with lots of trash on its rack he’d seen four times in velvet and once in a trail camera photograph.
“I called my dad at that point,” Joe said. “I told him the big non-typical was 120 yards from me. I knew the buck, but I wasn’t hunting it. I had devoted all my time to getting a shot at another one I’d been hunting for a long time.
“When you’re trying for a particular buck, you don’t shoot another,” he continued. “I was torn.”
Joe’s father made the decision a little easier.
“He told me, ‘Son, if he makes you happy, shoot him,’” Joe added.
But the non-typical never came close enough.
At a quarter past 6:00, all three does and the fawn began walking toward the trail south of Joe’s hiding place in the cedar. Fifteen minutes later, a 130-inch buck exited the draw.
“With maybe 15 minutes of shooting light remaining, I didn’t think I was in a position to get a shot at the big non-typical, which was the only one that interested me, so I packed up all my stuff and lowered my bow to the ground,” Joe said. “When I took one last look before getting out of the tree, I spotted the 9-pointer at 100 yards.
“About that time, I heard something north of me. It sounded like a deer jumping the fence, like its feet hitting the ground.
“It was the big non-typical,” he added.
The buck went out into the stubble, scavenged some corn, and then turned and started walking parallel to the fenceline, toward the man in the tree. That’s when Joe had the tug of war with the fence.
After shooting the deer, Joe waited until almost dark before getting down and walking over to his arrow, easy to see because of its glowing nock. He used his cell phone’s light to look at the blood.
Assured that he’d hit the deer, Joe went back to his car to call his dad.
“I didn’t feel really good about the shot,” he admitted. “So I’d already decided to wait until morning to start looking.
“Still, I couldn’t resist going back to the spot with my flashlight to see what kind of blood trail I’d have,” he added.
The answer was not much.
Joe had supper with his pal Sean Pelletier that night, and Sean agreed to help him trail the deer the next day.
“I was all jacked up,” Joe said. “I think I might’ve slept for only four hours. I got up at 4:30 and watched the clock, waiting for Sean. Pretty soon it was 5:00, then 5:30, 6:00, 6:30 … all the way to 8:15.
“I couldn’t stand it any more, so I called him,” he continued. “I said, ‘Where are you? I’m dying!’”
Sean arrived a short while later, and the two drove to the cut cornfield. The blood was so sparse, they did much of the tracking by deep hoof prints. After they found exactly where it jumped the fence, they connected the few dots – often while on hands and knees – and eventually found the buck, which had made it across the strip of CRP before taking its last breath in the timber on the other side.
Sean saw it first and yelled.
“I didn’t believe him, at first,” Joe said. “I mean I did, but I didn’t. You know?”
This article was published in the October 2015 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Subscribe today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home. Subscribe today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.