Early Muzzleloader

The 2012 deer season started a little differently for us, mainly because my good friend and cameraman Zach Kathol wanted to try his luck during Iowa’s early muzzleloader season. Once October 13 rolled around I was happy to grab the camera and watch as Zach tried to put a buck on the ground early. As usual we had a heat wave move in and the deer movement was really slow and the bucks weren’t showing their faces until we were out of camera light.

The first weekend went by without any good encounters and we were a little discouraged knowing we only had next weekend for Zach to fill his tag. The following Friday we were both able to get off work at noon so we could have an extra night of hunting. We decided to sit in one of our ground blinds that evening and had a hand full of does moving throughout the evening and about 10 minutes after we lost camera light we had a 160 class buck walkout 100 yards from the ground blind.

Zach was definitely bummed after seeing a buck like that and having to let him walk. We decided to try a different property we could sit up on a side hill and overlook a pond that had been getting used a lot due to the high temperatures. After sitting about three hours and not even seeing a deer we packed up and headed back to the house to try and figure something out for the evening hunt. After talking about the different options, Zach wanted to sit next to a freshly harvested corn field right along a river. After sitting for maybe an hour we saw a couple of does making their way into the corn field and knew it was just a matter of time before a buck showed up.

We watched the does for about an hour when I noticed what looked like a good buck in the timber. I immediately told Zach where he was and grabbed the camera. Once Zach found him in his binoculars he said he would take a shot if he got a chance. He no more than said that when he noticed the farmer was driving out into the field to check his cows. Once we saw this we knew the buck wouldn’t have time to come any closer before the farmer scared him off, so Zach quickly ranged the buck at 220 yards and took aim.

The buck was quartered away from us as he settled the crosshairs and gently squeezed the trigger. Boom! Zach had no idea if he had hit the buck because of the smoke. Luckily, I was about five yards from him and could see the buck kick before the smoke got in my way. Once we saw the buck run down the tree line and out of sight we packed up and headed to the house to see where he had hit the buck. We must have watched the shot 20 times and all agreed the shot was back farther than we’d like and that we needed to let him sit overnight.

The following morning we had fellow WCW pro staff members Collin King and Andrew Herzberg along to help find Zach’s buck. It took a long time to find blood, but once we did it was an easy tracking job that ended with Zach wading across the cold river to recover his buck on the opposite bank. This was a prime example of when in doubt, back out. It makes for a long night, but a sleepless night is a lot better than bumping a deer and never recovering it.