After closing out the North Dakota season, it was time to get back to Iowa and try and fill my muzzleloader tag before the season ended. With nothing sparking my interest on the trail cameras across my permission pieces, I decided to jump around on some public land in search of a worthy buck to wrap my tag around. On the second evening of the hunt, we drove a good distance to a piece of public that I was very familiar with from previous years of shed hunting. As luck would have it, there was standing beans in a secluded field a good distance from any roads. JP and I hiked, and set up on the ground along the edge of the bean field on the downwind side of where I figured most of the deer would enter the field. The afternoon was dead, until the last 30 minutes. And like a light switch, the field filled up with somewhere around 40 deer before a good buck walked out. I squeezed the trigger and we watched him fall in the field. Couldn’t have asked for a better ending to the season!
Mike had a new lease in Iowa this year and it set up nicely to have the farmer leave some standing corn for late season hunting. Prior to the late muzzleloader season, we popped up a Cage Tower blind over looking the standing corn. The set up was absolutely money. Now it was a matter of getting the right weather conditions for some good late season action. Just as we rang in the New Year, here came the snow and cold Mike had been hoping for. On his second night in the blind, the best buck on the farm made his way into the standing corn before Mike settled the crosshairs.
With Dylan and Hunter still in camp, and myself in the hospital (getting my appendix removed), JP was up to bat. With snow on the ground, and brutally cold temperatures, the 3 of them jumped in a blind for the afternoon hunt. After watching several deer throughout the evening, a good buck made an appearance several hundred yards away but he was closing the gap quickly. The buck gave JP a 20 yard shot and they watched him crash in the cattails. 2 bucks in 2 nights!
Dylan and Brandon burned a week of vacation in early September to hunt whitetails in North Dakota. The weather was warm and the deer movement was slow to say the least. At the tail end of the trip, Brandon finally connected but Dylan would go home with his tag still in his pocket. He was excited to get back to Dinkota in December to try and settle the score. After a couple slow evenings, a cold front pushed in so they made a move on the biggest buck they had on trail camera. This hunt couldn’t have unfolded any better, a true North Dakota stud put on a show and Dylan made a great shot on his biggest buck to date!
Our good buddy Josh Hillyard from First Lite joined us in North Dakota for some early season action back in September. The weather was unseasonably warm and windy the entire trip and we ended up sending Josh home empty handed. We told him he needed to make a return trip in December for a late season hunt and one last crack at filling his tag. In mid-December Josh was back on a plane and flying out to hunt with us one last time before the holidays. This time, the weather was different, and in our favor. After monitoring trail cameras closely, Josh headed into a spot where a good buck was moving regularly in the daylight. With the sun still up, they spotted the buck a few hundred yards away and he came straight to them on a string before Josh put a great shot on him and watched him tip over in the field.
This hunt has been a solid 8-9 months in the making. JP’s good buddy, Luke, invited him down to come hunt on his family property in Oklahoma. JP had been looking forward to this hunt all season long, and for good reason. Luke was continuously sending photos of good deer from the farm so we were more than excited to get down there in December. As luck would have it, it didn’t take us long to be in the action. In fact, we had a really close call on the first night. With a wind switch, we elected to move across the winter wheat field and do a hang and hunt. Like clockwork, the same buck from the first night showed up on the food plot with a pile of does. As the sun went down, all the deer made their way past us including the big buck. JP made the shot count and he made it just out of sight before going down! To cap off the hunt, JP harvested a doe the next evening before calling it a hell of a trip!
It’s been a long season for Chad in Wisconsin this year. Aside from his daughter connecting on a couple of deer, he has hunted hard all year with little to show for. With late season food plots in place, he was excited when a good buck started showing up on the cameras after the gun season had closed. Now it was a matter of getting snow and cold weather to put him in the game. As luck would have it, the snow and cold arrived just in time for Chad to get an opportunity during the Wisconsin muzzleloader season. A great finish to a long, hard season for Chad!
After a scouting trip, and an unsuccessful first hunting trip to Kansas this year, I was excited to get back in late November and try to punch my tag on a public land buck. The weather was less than ideal, getting up in the 70s during the day. The one thing that we had going for us is that the temperatures were still cooling off into the 30s/40s at night which yielded good action during our morning sits. On the morning of the 24th, we snuck into a crick system that was surrounded by ag fields. With the decoy sitting at 15 yards, the plan was to hopefully lay eyes on a good buck, and bang the antlers in hopes that he would come check out the decoy. Shortly after 8am, the plan worked to perfection.
The story of ‘Baby Splits’ began back in 2017 when he started showing up on Mike’s trail cameras. Little did Mike know that this would be the beginning of a 5 year story. After targeting the buck for several years, the photos and encounters were starting to stack up and weigh on Mike. This archery season would result in several close calls with the, now 7.5 year old Wisconsin legend, but still no shot opportunity. It has been since 2009 when Mike had last gun hunted the home farm in Wisconsin, but knowing that “Baby Splits” was in the area, this was the year to do it. On the evening of opening day of the Wisconsin gun season, Mike would finally get his chance to end the story!
The Missouri brothers, Nick and Nate, have been grinding it out in Missouri all fall with their bows. They were excited when rifle season rolled around and they headed to the woods opening weekend to settle the score. After being rained out in the morning, they slipped into a spot and planned to sit it out for the rest of the day. Nate had the gun in hand and Nick was behind the camera. Before too long, a shooter came over the hill. Being in a large tree, the buck stood in a spot that was impossible for Nate to make the shot. The guys switched roles, Nick grabbed the gun and Nate got behind the camera. Nick was able to get on the deer and drop him in his tracks!