Record Quest: Iowa

In Iowa, tags are available by draw only for nonresidents, and gun seasons are short and limited to shotguns or muzzleloaders. Combine those limits with the abundance of agriculture and good genetics, and the state's deer offer one of the best opportunities in the country for hunters to experience a true chance at taking a record-book trophy. The first day of Iowa's second 2010 gun season threatened to keep a lot of hunters indoors. Temps in the teens, swirling snow and winds gusting to 50 mph made for a day not fit for man nor beast.
With only days to hunt, however, we had no choice but to brave the elements. Despite the high winds and snow, outfitter Aaron Volkmar was convinced deer would move throughout the day and suggested we pack a lunch and sit our blinds until sundown. He was right about the deer movement. I hadn't been in my box blind for more than 30 minutes when a wide 8-point approaching 150 inches sauntered past just before shooting light. At one point, I sat watching five bucks, all in the 130-inch category, feeding out in front of me. Before the day was up, I would have a quick opportunity at a 150-class 10-point, but before I could properly size the buck up, he started running a doe up a hill and out of sight.
With temps in the teens and wind chills below zero, my new best friend is Mr. Heater's Propane Buddy. It's not something that is needed very often in the South where I grew up.
By the end of the day, several inches of snow had fallen and wind gusts had picked up to 60 mph. It would have been physically impossible to sit a ladder or lock-on stand that day though I have no doubt, some hardcore Iowa hunter, did. For my part, I was just happy to have survived my all day sit in the box blind. Some gusts of wind hit it so hard, it felt like it would topple over.
Daybreak found the mercury hovering near zero, and the winds died down to 25 to 30 mph--relatively calm compared to the winds the day before. The sun was out and we figured with the storm intensifying over night, deer would be on the move like crazy. We would be wrong. I saw one buck and several does that morning, while the other hunters in camp only saw a couple does and one little buck. Expecting the wind to die down right before dark, we all have high hopes for an active afternoon.
The highlight of the day: Lunchtime in a frozen box blind. Today, we toted in Heater Body Suits to keep warm so we didn't have to keep using the propane heaters. The suits performed perfectly.
The Turtle Blind on Volkmar's family's farm served as my virtual home the first several days of my Iowa hunt. A 200-inch buck that has been sighted in the area along with all of the bucks I spotted the first day keeps me charged to come back to the area, though with easing winds, I will probably try a couple of nearby ladder stands to put me closer to where the deer have been moving.
One deer stand is just inside the woods line behind the field where I have been sitting. In the first two days of hunting, I've seen at least 45 deer, including three bucks near or exceeding 150 inches, just none that I could get a shot at. Maybe day three will be the charm.
A pair of Iowa bucks adorn the wall of the farm house near Nodaway that serves as camp for our hunt. No one will argue if they could put a tag on bucks like either of these beasts. Check back at outdoorlife.com to see the conclusion of my hunt.

I join up with Aaron Volkmar of Tails of the Hunt Outfitters for my first ever chance at a famed Hawkeye State buck.