Numbers are not my thing. Never could balance a check book.
Guess I’m a man of words, not numbers. Maybe that explains why I
name special bucks instead of identifying them by some number.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against Pope and Young or
Boone and Crockett. Those numbers you get when you add up beam
length, tine length, mass circumference, and spread serve a
purpose. If you tell me that you shot a buck that carries a
10-point rack and will gross score in the mid 150s, I have a good
visual image of what that buck’s rack looks like.
But like I said, I’m a man of words, not numbers, so instead of
referring to bucks by a number, I tend to give them names. “The
Hanging Tree Buck” invokes an instant visual image of that November
morning when that buck caught me hanging from a limb half way
between my stand and the ground. I like that name better than the
1433/8 buck. You get the drift.
Funny how things work out sometimes. Between Oct. 27 and Nov. 19
of this year, I spent all but four days bowhunting in Iowa. During
those 20 days of hunting I logged 163 hours in the treestand. I
spent more time in the trees than did most of the fat fox squirrels
scampering around my stands. Then on the afternoon of that
twentieth day, I ended up stalking and killing a big buck on the
I had hunted from a stand all morning and had not seen a deer.
The rut was about over, so deer movement had greatly decreased from
what it had been. But I knew that even after the main rut has
passed there always are a few does that enter estrous late, and
that those does always are serviced by the biggest bucks. I was
hoping to encounter one of them. About noon, I abandoned my stand
and moved to a stand on a different farm.
When I arrived at that farm, my friend Matt Herr told me about a
big buck he had seen that morning tending a doe in a big, harvested
soybean field just south of the farm buildings. There was a creek
that ran along the south end of the field and on the other side of
that creek was a CRP field. I figured the buck was either in the
timber along the creek or in that CRP field, so I parked my pickup
on a hill where I could glass the creek bottom and CRP field and
spent some time behind a pair of 10×50 binoculars.
A half hour later I spotted movement. It was a fawn being chased
by a big buck. I knew what was happening, I’ve seen it many times
before. The fawn was trying to stay close to its mother, but the
buck kept driving the fawn away. It’s nature’s way.
When the breeding is over, the fawn and the doe get back
together again. Soon the buck returned to the doe and she led the
buck to a small tangle of canary grass along the banks of the
creek. I put the spotting scope on the buck and got a real good
look at him. I recognized the buck. I had seen him a time or two
before. A big, mature fellow with a heavy and fairly wide 9-point
rack, he called that creek bottom his turf.
When the doe finally tired of being harassed by the buck and
laid down in that sun-warmed yellow grass, I knew I had a chance.
When a doe lays down in the middle of the day like that, it usually
means she has had enough of the buck’s amorous advances.
Of course the buck will not leave her. Sometimes he will lay
down, too, but most often the buck will stand near the doe and wait
for her to stand. At the same time, he protects her from any other
bucks that might come around. If the doe rests for too long and the
buck gets impatient, he will use his antlers to force the doe back
on her feet. But I knew that because Matt had seen the buck with
the doe that morning, that the buck and doe probably were both
tired. Odds were good that the buck would allow the doe to rest for
a few hours. I made plans for the stalk.
Stalking whitetail deer, especially when bowhunting, usually is
not practical, but when a buck is tending a doe, you have a chance
of making it work. I’ve taken four bucks this way and muffed a
couple of other good chances.
I made my way down to the creekbottom about 400 yards from where
I had last seen the deer. The wind was good, but even so I put on
two Scent-Lok suits and then sprayed everything down with scent
spray. If the wind swirled, I did not want a whiff of my scent to
blow the whole deal. Then I slipped into the creek and started
moving towards the deer.
In most places the water was only six inches to a foot deep, but
we had been having quite a bit of rain and it was not long before I
went over the top of my boots in some deeper pools. I ignored the
cold water in my boots and concentrated on moving as quietly as
possible. Because of numerous log jams in the creek that I had to
carefully negotiate, it took me more than an hour before I spotted
the big, barkless, nearly white cottonwood tree that I had
pinpointed from the hill as my landmark.
Carefully I crawled up the muddy bank and peeked over. The buck
was still standing where I had last seen him. He was about 35 yards
away, but there was a lot of brush and branches between us. Moving
cautiously, I dropped back into the water and slipped ahead.
The next time I peeked over the top of the eroded creek bank,
the buck was in a good position and only about 20 yards away. I
knelt down below the bank, let my nerves calm, drew the bow and
slowly straightened up. I focused hard on the exact hair on the
buck’s side I wanted to hit and made a good release. The yellow and
white fletching disappeared at that exact spot.
Bowhunters know there is no better feeling. The doe jumped up
and ran off. The buck, not yet aware that he was dead, took off
after her. Seconds later he was down.
My good friends Matt and Misty Herr, who are kind enough to
allow me to hunt their land and to stay in their family cabin when
I am hunting in Iowa, helped me drag the buck out and load him in
the pickup. I know that they were just as excited me. Good friends
Later that evening, Misty asked what I was going to name the
buck. “I thought I would call it “Misty’s Buck,” I said. “After
all, you were the one who first told me about this buck and you are
the one who so often saw the buck while you were doing chores on
” No way,” said Misty, who is a hunter herself, “When you name a
buck after me, I want it to be one I have taken. How about calling
this one “The Farm Chore Buck”?
“I like that,” I said. “The Farm Chore Buck it will be.”