Dec_11_06_2 Area: Loess Hills (pronounced “luss hills”) far-western Iowa

When: 1st shotgun season, Dec.2-6, 2006

Outfitter: Iowa Trophy Whitetails, Judd Cooney

Conditions: Clear but brutal, lows 4F and highs 18, wind chill below 0; full moon.

Tactics: Ground hunting near soybean fields

Hiding your silhouette/scent is tough when you’re alone on the ground and doubly tough when 2 of us are hunting/filming for Whitetail Revolution on Versus (no tree stands on this show).

It’s triply tough when your cameraman is 6’5” like Randy “Stretch” Wimberg, who bears some resemblance to Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler.

One day at 2:00 PM we snuck to a cluster of trees downwind of harvested soybeans. There were some pods w/beans on the ground, and in the cold post-rut deer were hitting them hard.

Dec_11_06_3 I looked at Stretch and thought, “How in hell am I gonna hide this guy?” He sat against a tree, folded in his 38” inseam legs, set his HD camera on a tripod and draped camo netting over his head. Big odd-looking blob, but I hoped we could get away with it.

One reason Revolution is a kick-ass show is because of top cinematographers like Randy, who has worked the movie/TV scene in LA and filmed adventures and documentaries all over the world. A few clips from his website:

“I’ve been to the site of the Titanic 3 times…I have 3 Eco-Challenges under my belt and the Iditarod…I am comfortable shooting at varying altitudes, below the surface among whales and sharks or scaling the sides of El Cap to capture climbing action.”

Randy got smart moved to Bozeman, MT. Now he shoots stuff for Discovery Channel and does hunting shows for Orion Multimedia and VS, and we’re lucky to have him. If I could find a good buck and shoot it dead, Stretch would get the show.

The first doe popped out of the woods at 3:30. I made a little move that would end up being the key to the hunt. I eased up my shooting sticks, set my Remington 11-87 12-gauge in the V, pointed toward the feeding area and rested the butt-stock near my shoulder.

A monster showed up 1 hour later, coming out a far dark corner of the woods (always glass a corner like that hard!), making for the 6 does and 2 dink bucks that were already out munching beans.

He was the buck of dreams, ivory-racked, heavy and high, 10 points at least with a huge drop tine on the left side, 170-plus for sure. “Monster,” I whispered to Stretch. I peeked over and he was already burning film.

Suddenly the does flipped out and trotted out the field. Drop didn’t bolt, but he veered into the woods 175 yards away and looked uphill. “What’s going on?” Stretch asked, still filming.

“Another buck I bet…” but before I could get it all out I saw 10 white tines bobbing in the grass only 80 yards away to our left. The 160-class giant strode out into the beanfield, looked at the does and then at Drop to exude his dominance, then turned and stared at Stretch and me.

I flinched but I was all over him, crosshairs locked on lungs. Remember, I had the slugger up and in the sticks, and all I had to do when I saw those tines was to swivel 10 inches left to cover his shoulder. To kill big deer you gotta be ready!

Stretch was on him too, filming. The buck flicked his tail. “I’m gonna kill him,” I whispered. “Not yet,” Randy said, “need more footage.” The deer flinched, “Now or he’s gonna bolt dammit,” I hissed. He had the body language of a buck fixing to get the hell out of Dodge.

Before Stretch could finish “okay” I fired.

BTW, the communication between hunter and TV cameraman is always tense, heated and sometimes goofy, and the closer the buck is and the bigger he is, the more heated it becomes. In a strange way I find it exhilarating.

We watched Stretch’s amazing footage one time before we locked away the tape for safe keeping. You can see the Rem. Copper Solid slug hit the deer, blow through the lungs and exit the other side. A big animal like this amazes me and gets my respect. He went on a death run for 100 yards across the field and 40 more yards up a ridge in the woods, old Stretch filming him all the way till he tipped over for good.

Postscript: A few days ago somebody asked me if it was tough to shoot the 10-pointer with Drop Tine Monster so close. Uh, hell no! The buck I killed is one of my “cleanest” typicals in years, his rack nearly 20” wide and heavy, his tines matching wonderfully, with only 5 or 6” of deductions, netting in the mid-150s.

Anybody who would pass a dream buck like that at 80 yards on the ground w/a slug gun is out of his mind, don’t you think?