What started out to be a morning hunt, would turn into an all-day stint and be the hunt of a lifetime! I would finally get an encounter with the one and only deer I have in my sights to shoot this year. “Lefty” is a seven-year-old triple drop-tine buck, scoring well over the 200’s. I have been waiting patiently and seen this deer only four times during the hunting season in years past.
This is a deer Tyler and I have had our eyes on for three years; collecting information year after year, hundreds of trail camera pictures and sheds. In 2009, I laid eyes on this magnificent whitetail three times with all sightings in the same field about a week apart. Tyler had a sighting with him in a field just to the south a few weeks later. Then he gave us the slip! Tyler and I knew that we had a giant on the farm and needed to get a shot at this deer. During the 2010 summer, we loaded up the farm with the Moultrie cameras in hopes this beast had made it through the season. In September, we started getting a few pictures. He’d lost his big drop on the right side and just had two little drops on both sides now. I could never figure out Lefty’s travel pattern, as he truly had a mind of his own like big mature deer often do. I would go through that season without a sighting of Lefty.
This summer rolls around and June 4th finds Tyler and me heading out with the “Big Buck Mineral” from Extreme Hunting Solutions to get the cameras set up. About 5:00 in the evening, we were driving down the highway and saw some deer standing in the newly growing bean field. I counted six bucks! I grabbed my Nikons and looked at the deer in the middle of the group. He picked his head up and I could not believe what I was seeing! It was Lefty! He had blown into an absolute giant and grown his drops back. This year he has three, two off his right side and one off his left side with all to be at least twelve inches or more!
Tyler and I went through the summer gathering tons of trail camera pictures, of course, all to be at night and early morning. We started putting together a travel pattern. It was finally looking like we had a possibility at this buck. This summer in southern Iowa was hot and dry so water is where we had the best chance of finding the bucks. We also had 250 acres of standing cornfield. As October 1st was getting closer, this deer started to venture off into his own little world again and we were getting less pictures of Lefty. I took my aerial map and dotted everywhere I had seen him, gotten pictures of him and found his sheds. I drew lines giving me somewhat of an idea where he was most likely to come through the property. We adjusted a few stands and awaited the arrival of bow season.
October was a bust for us as Tyler, Justin and I had a hard time getting our schedules to jive for filming, but we went out as much as we could. Still, we had no sightings of any shooter bucks; that is, until November 17th.It started like this. Justin and I were excited to sit the stands located on the back side of the farm that we call the “hot spot”. It’s one of those places where the bucks are always cruising through. The morning was starting off slow with no deer showing up. In my frustration, I was ready to give it up for the day, but Justin and I agreed to sit until 10:00. It seems like it takes the deer awhile to get back from the food source to the bedding area. As we sat through 9:30 or so, all I could think was where are all the mature deer? Are they are moving in mid-day? As 10:00 rolled around, I did a rattling session with a few grunts and, shortly thereafter, the first deer started filtering through. We eventually saw five bucks, all three-year-old mid-30’s, but still no shooters; good deer for next year, though. About 11:15, I was watching several does walking away to my right when I heard something running to my left. I turned to see Lefty coming our way. This just went from being a slow, crummy day to one of the best days I would experience in the stand!
About 80 yards to my left, Lefty came busting out of the timber chasing a doe. I had a decoy out and the doe didn’t like what she was seeing. Lefty started to walk toward my decoy to confront it. The doe kept walking but he cut her off and ran her around to the south side of the ditch and I thought he was gone. But they had gone into the ditch and bedded down about 60 yards due south of us. We were stuck standing up and couldn’t move as Lefty had lain down facing our way. I could not believe I was actually getting a chance to watch this first hand as it seemed the bucks were on lock-down this last week. So now, we could do nothing but watch the show. From behind us to the north, I heard another grunting buck crashing through the brush straight for us. I thought this is all we need right now. This buck would come in, see the decoy, then spook and blow Lefty right out of here. I was amazed to see it was a just yearling buck as he blasted out of the timber right past the decoy. He didn’t give it a second look. As he got on the trail of Lefty’s doe, the yearling circled around and came in behind the pair in the ditch. That did it! The chase was on!
Lefty got up to chase off the young basket 8-point. While they were occupied, I grabbed my Elite and waited as they came right toward my opening. Lefty chased the buck right to the edge of the ditch then turned quickly and walked back to his doe. At that point, the yearling spotted the decoy. He drops his ears, bristles up and smokes the decoy! I thought, here we go, that’s going to spook him. Lefty paid no attention to it and stayed standing next to his doe. The yearling buck came back and bedded down on the edge of the ditch right in front of us. He would lay there for five minutes, then get up, walk in five more yards and lay down again. He kept repeating that until Lefty thought he was getting too close. Lefty would charge again to chase the buck off, getting within 20 yards of me, but I could not get a shot! This happens about five times in all, without an open shot. I was not going to make a rushed shot on this deer. I felt that, if we were patient, I would get my chance.
So we waited the deer out and, to our amazement, they stayed in front of us all day until about 5:00 that evening. Finally, Lefty got up and walked around but never came out of the ditch. It was exciting to watch as he made a scrape and a rub. Shortly after Lefty got up, two bucks came out of the standing corn and chased a doe right into where Lefty was. As soon as they were in the ditch, they saw him. They wanted nothing to do with Lefty! He stole their doe and started heading west. Justin and I looked at each other thinking this was it. We had waited all day, being so patient, and now he would just walk away. Surely, he wouldn’t leave the doe he bedded down with all day? Those two bucks worked their way into the ditch behind him and bumped the doe that Lefty had left, but it didn’t take a minute and here came Lefty! He chased off the bucks and took that doe with him, too. Today just wasn’t going to be my day, but I was blessed to have had the opportunity to see him again and watch this all day long!
That was the greatest day I have had in the stand to-date. Justin was able to burn up two and a half tapes on that GIANT beast! I learned a lot about the mature deer’s behavior that will be forever imprinted in my memory. I have till next weekend to get another opportunity at Lefty and pray I will get my chance at the deer of a lifetime!