Every deer has a story to tell. It’s our job as hunters to write the final chapter and tell people about it.
Behind every successful hunt there’s an impactful storyline. Outlining the dedication, preparation, and circumstances leading up to the hunt. It’s these intangible memories that make each hunting story unique.
Michael Hecht and his father had a hunting season to remember this year. One that each of them will never forget. They shared a story of a father and son. Two passionate outdoorsman in pursuit of harvesting a mature whitetail. Their ambitions were high. But neither of them could have imagined the events that would unfold this season.
Here’s their story, told by Michael:
I was very excited as the 2015 hunting season quickly approached. My father was going to apply for his nonresident deer tag in Iowa. It’s always been a dream to watch him harvest a mature trophy whitetail. Where we grew up in Michigan the chances of seeing and harvesting a mature deer was slim to none. June had arrived and I knew the announcement of the draw results were soon to come. I anxiously logged into the Iowa DNR sight to check the results. To my surprise he was drawn!
Months of planning and preparation were dedicated to developing food plots and running trail cameras, not only for my upcoming archery season but for my father’s hunt as well. As October arrived my excitement level was through the roof. One of my better spots was sitting in the middle of a 200 acre corn field. I got a call the second weekend of October saying the corn was being cut. I decided to set up an observation stand about 500 yards away from a core bedding area overlooking a turnip plot. I knew my chances of having a mature deer reach this stand before dark were slim. But I needed to see how the deer used the cut corn field.
About a half hour before dark I had 6 does filter through the corner right below a stand I had hung earlier in the summer. Shortly after 10 more stepped out. I knew that stand was going to be hot when the time and weather were right. I continued to sit in my observation stand and had the opportunity to film several deer a night, including several hit list bucks. I just couldn’t get them in bow range before I ran out of light.
November 1st had come and I took a week vacation to catch the rut action. The weather was in the 70’s and would not cool back down until Thursday. The morning of November 2nd I hunted a new farm with no luck, didn’t see a single deer. I made my way to the truck, ate lunch and started formulating my plan for that evening’s hunt. I pulled up weather maps and realized I had a perfect wind for my stand that was situated close to the bedding area. I drove to the farm windows down ready for the evening hunt.
I was sweating from packing out my stand and camera gear. I wasn’t sure if I should be hunting this stand with the weather being so warm. After texting a few friends and drinking a few bottles of water I decided I’d get started on my mile trek to the stand. As I walked the fence line I sprayed myself down with my Upwind Scent Eliminator and freshened up a mock scrape with some Wind Pro Mock Scrape. I quickly swapped out the sd cards from the trail camera and slowly made my way to the stand. By the time I got settled in and rehydrated it was 2:50pm.
I was setting up my camera arm and video camera when I heard what I thought was a squirrel. As branches started breaking my attention went from my camera to the direction of the sound. I knew then I had to act fast. I grabbed my horns and my extinguisher grunt call from my pack and worked a branch in the tree and grunted twice. As I turned back a wide heavy deer jumped the fence 8 yards away, all bristled out pawing the ground. Somehow my bow was in my hand already. To this day I don’t remember picking it up. I reached for my camera, turned it on and began to position it to capture the shot. In the process the camera arm creaked. Apparently I didn’t have my strap tight enough and the wide ten point was looking right at me. I stood there, my heart was racing and I was breathing heavily. I thought it was over, BUSTED! But the deer didn’t run, he turned broadside and started walking towards the creek. At that point I committed to the shot and abandoned the camera. I had one small opening to make a shot and as I came to full draw the buck stopped, that was all I needed. I squeezed the trigger on my Hotshot release. The arrow made impact a touch high but It was a kill shot! The deer took off and I instantly started filming the raw emotion of the post shot interview. I had only been in the stand for about 30 minutes. I wasn’t even going to hunt that day. After reviewing the footage we decided to wait until dark to track the deer. When we began tracking It didn’t take long to find him. He had only ran about 50 yards into the timber. It was the deer I had named the “Laid Back 10 “. His g2 was his shortest point and was angled backwards. He is my biggest deer to date!
It was Christmas 2015 and Muzzleloader season had arrived here in Iowa. The only thing missing was the cold weather. Months of planning and scouting were coming down to the wire and all we needed was a cold front to hit and stay. As January arrived the cold front and my dad had showed up. The first three days in the stand were rough. We had the weather, we had a food source, and we were warm and toasty in the blinds. But we just didn’t have any deer. I could tell my dad was getting discouraged and I think he could tell I was in panic mode. After all, I had set his expectations high by sending him thousands of trail camera pics. We just couldn’t make it happen.
I shared my frustration with a good friend of mine and filled him in on our situation. He then invited us to hunt his farm where he had seen several 130”-150’’ class deer the week prior. He told us it was the last day he could hunt. We had talked about deer that were on his hit list and a few young rock stars that were off limits. One name stuck in my mind, “The Crown Buck”.
I had a good feeling as we set up for the evening hunt. I filmed some b-roll and interviews to capture the pre hunt excitement. We had a food plot 70 yards to our left and another 200 yards to the right. At 5:00pm seven does moved from the creek bed and into the left food plot. They quickly began working there way to the adjacent plot. As I glassed the far plot a beautiful 160”-170” deer walked out. My dad wasn’t comfortable with that far of a shot with the light quickly fading. With six minutes of legal shooting light left I stood up and started glassing three deer in the neighbor’s field. That’s when I saw another deer coming from the creek bed. He was tall and had serious mass.
I told my dad he was a shooter and got him set up. He put an amazing shot on the deer and dropped him in his tracks. As we celebrated the deer got up and ran off. Our emotions did a complete 360. After calling the landowner and good friend we decided to give the deer a half hour before picking up the blood trail. After some tracking we found his buck expired at the bottom of the creek bed. I drug him out, embraced my dad with high fives and hugs and snapped a quick picture to send to the landowner. I instantly I got a call back. The landowner said, “Do you realize what you guys just did?”. It turned out the buck my dad harvested had 6 years of history on that farm and had only been seen 2 times in person. It was “The Crown Buck” the landowner had told us about.
One day, sooner than I’d like, I’ll return to that food plot by myself. Where my dad hugged me as hard as he could and told me how proud he was of the man I had become. Where we both choked back tears and were able to say I love you. Every deer has a story to tell. It’s our job as hunters to write the final chapter and tell people about it.