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May 2019
Story by Terry Mapes
State: Iowa
Species: Deer - Whitetail

My 2018 Iowa bow season had been very frustrating. As it turned out, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Most of the upper Midwest had experienced above average rainfall all summer and into the fall with flooding taking place throughout. It was no different where I do the majority of my hunting as a resident whitetail hunter. The public land that I hunt is all river bottom flood plain that normally floods in late spring, but this year was different. My access was greatly restricted, which caused me to adapt and change my strategy. I knew the deer were still present, and with the rut fast approaching, I couldn’t wait for water levels to drop enough for me to get to some of my favorite stand locations deep in the bottom land.

As a result of the flooding, the hunting pressure was less than normal, which was a plus, but it forced me to hunt closer to the parking lot than I ever had. On November 21st, after several hunts with no shots fired, I made an afternoon sit. With a slight southeast breeze and temps in the mid 30s, I had rattled several times with no deer sighted.

Thirty minutes before sundown, thoughts of calling it a day were interrupted by spotting a doe wading in the water and moving in my direction. She paused at any dry spot she came to and fed on acorns. I noticed a nice buck following about 30 yards behind. When she fed around the outside of a fallen oak, still outside of shooting range, the buck followed. They fed off in the opposite direction until they were out of my sight. He was grunting off and on the whole way. Clearly, the doe was in estrus.

I felt lucky to have had such an encounter, but I was frustrated and about ready to call it a night. I had just strapped my rattling antlers to my pack, getting ready to exit the stand, when I spotted the pair heading towards me again. This time, there was a yearling accompanying them. With shooting light fading, the doe took a path closer this time. Upwind and at 40 yards, the buck came into my shooting lane. I stopped him with a grunt and center punched him with my Hoyt. The Rage broadhead only allowed him to run about 30 yards.

With the buck gutted and darkness upon me, I left him in a dry spot until morning. I returned the next morning with my pack and game cart. After quartering and preparing the deer for the trip home, I loaded the cart and pack and made it back to the truck in no time.

Being persistent and adapting to the conditions eventually paid off for me. After figuring my chances at a nice buck would be few and far between, it only took one hot doe to change everything. Be persistent in your application strategy in 2019, and remember to Apply, Apply, Apply!