Brian LaRue cut out of work early last November 22 and met up with his longtime hunting buddy, Bob Evenson. The rut was still on in Winneshiek Co., Iowa, and the hard-core bowhunters were pumped. Some seasons in the Midwest, if it’s cold and the moon is right, you see more mature bucks on their feet in daylight in the late, last-ditch trolling phase than you do earlier in the rut.
They had scouted and hunted their land hard and smart; they knew the bucks were there and rubbing and scraping now. This was some of the best big-deer real estate in America–140s, 160s, 180s… Both Brian and Bob had even spotted a 200″ world-class giant the previous 2 seasons, but they could never get a bowshot at him.
Brian sneaked toward one of his favorite stands in a walnut tree, even though he figured the northwest wind would be wrong there. When he got to the stand he found the wind was more of a straight west, okay for the deer movement in the area, so he climbed up and started hunting. He looked down and noticed a big, fairly fresh rub at the base of his stand.
Lesson learned 1: The wind at your truck might, say, blow out of the north or west, but a half-mile away at one of your tree stands, it might be more of a northwest or southwest or whatever, depending on how the terrain, cover, temperature and shadows might affect the breeze there. What you think is a bad wind might actually be pretty damn good for hunting a stand, so sneak in and check it out, especially when you know there’s smoking buck sign in a spot.
Brain spotted a thick 8-pointer, 200 pounds and 150-class, dogging a couple of does. Had the pig come close, he would have definitely let him have it. The evening wore on, getting grayer. Two small bucks came by and disappeared in the timber, working downwind. Brian worried they might smell him and blow the alarm, but they never did. Soon another deer moved where the little guys were—a buck, maybe the 8-point pig circling back? No, this deer was smaller bodied, but his rack was way bigger. The monster that Brain and Bob had seen a couple of times the years before!
The buck skulked toward Brian’s stand, stopped 60 yards out and mauled a tree. Brian used the break to ready his bow and, more importantly, calm his nerves a bit. The brute stopped rubbing and bore for the walnut, curving off to the side, sliding by at a tough angle. With 30 years of bowhunting under his belt, Brian panned with the deer, shifted his body and feet when he could, leaned out and around the tree and let an arrow fly. The buck was obviously a big rubber, and Brian is convinced he was going for the rub below the stand when he killed him at 4:22 PM. Notice the rub behind Brian in the photo.
As dark came on, Brian and Bob celebrated the buck of a lifetime. The 22-pointer’s rack had almost 30” of outside spread, gross-scored 237 2/8″ and netted of 221 4/8″. The main-frame 6X5 had 12 non-typical tines that measured 42 5/8″. Brian figures the buck was 4½ and weighed 165 pounds when he killed him. Sometimes due to weird genetics the old boys don’t weigh all that much. Plus, this buck had shed some pounds chasing and breeding does for the last few weeks.
When Brian was interviewed by the local newspaper, he said, “I would like to thank my employer, Olson Explosives of Decorah, for allowing me to take some time off to go deer hunting. They’re just great about it.”
Lesson learned 2: You can’t kill a monster if you’re not out in a stand on a regular basis. Get a job with a company that will let you cut out early most afternoons from Nov. 5 through 22, the rut window when 80 percent of the world-class bucks are killed each fall.