Editors Blog

13-Year-Old Big Buck Hunter Bags 197-Inch Iowa Whitetail

Giant Iowa Deer is Best for Nick Mattly

Nick Mattly, 13, of southern Iowa, shot this giant nontypical whitetail buck last Saturday in Wayne County. The rack scored 197-4/8 inches. Nick shot the deer while using a Knight Rifle. (photo by Daniel E. Schmidt)

By Daniel E. Schmidt

If you didn’t know the circumstances, you’d think this was a massive case of beginner’s luck. It was anything but. In fact, when 13-year-old Nick Mattly of southern Iowa dropped the hammer (so to speak) on his Knight muzzleloader last Saturday morning, the giant buck he killed was just another in a growing list of monster whitetails for this up-and-coming bone collector.

Mattly, whose parents own about 250 acres of prime deer ground, was hunting with his dad, Mike, when this 197-inch monster nontypical appeared on opening day of Iowa’s gun season. Young Nick wasted no time in seizing the moment, making a deadly shot at 140 yards as the buck was cruising through a wooded draw.

I was blessed to have shared camp with the Mattlys and was hunting just a couple miles away when Mike texted me late in the morning.

My phone buzzed. It was from Mike.

“Nick shot the big one!” he texted.

Talk about a happy moment. Videographer Brad Sullivan and I couldn’t wait to get back to camp. After hunting until lunchtime, we met back at camp. What we saw absolutely took our breath away!

I barely let the vehicle stop before jumping out to hustle over to the skinning shed. After giving both Mike and Nick hearty high-fives, we listened intently as Nick retold the story of the morning.

The buck appeared well over an hour after daylight, following a doe through the draw. Mike was filming the hunt as Nick watched the deer pick their way through the woods. Several tense moments ensued, as they both thought the buck might slip past them without offering a shot. Nick got his break, however, when the buck paused in an opening between two trees. The cool-handed hunter centered his aim on the buck’s shoulder, then squeezed the trigger. The bullet dropped the deer in its tracks by shattering the scapula.

A rough score of the rack, which features a double main beam on the left antler and a total of 17 scorable points, came in at 197-4/8 inches.

Even more amazing is the fact that Nick shot his first big buck when he was only 8 years old, and this buck will go up on the wall with five others he has killed that are all mature monsters.

Way to go, Nick! You are an inspiration to all of us diehard deer hunters.