The Winds of November
Welcome to the Whitetail Shooters blog and the story of the Justin Smith Iowa eight point.
Deer hunters have always considered the month of November as being special, and it’s not unusual to find those who consider the entire month as being sacred. Some hunters go as far as to warn family members they will not be attending any weddings, reunions, recitals, and sporting events, during that special time. This conflict of interest is easiest agreed upon by those who have spent a few hundred hours shivering off the cold while being perched in a tree stand. Most serious deer hunters will relate and agree the month of November cannot be tread upon.
However, if you live within one of the top record buck producing areas in North America, the month of November becomes even a bit more special than normal. Knowing, believing, and consistently seeing giant whitetails within your hunting area can spark a desire like none other. In these areas, a serious whitetail hunter just doesn’t miss any hunting time within the rut. This is a time when family, sports, weather, and all other important matters in life, can take a back seat to hunting.
November 14th 2010 was a very windy day in eastern Iowa with wind gusts clocking over 50mph. It was one of those days that most people won’t hunt. But in Iowa you can’t pass up a November day in the middle of the rut!
Justin Smith and his Dad are two people that take their deer hunting very serious, and for them there was no question as to whether they would hunt this windy day or not. The only decision made this day that was different from any other was the choice of Justin hunting from a ground blind rather than a swaying tree. His Dad would take a low hanging tree stand 300 yards north of Justin’s ground blind. The blind was set up behind a telephone pole along a fence line that allowed Justin to watch over a picked corn field.
Deer began filtering into the field within an hour of Justin reaching the blind. From over 500 yards away he could see what looked like two B&C sized bucks chasing does throughout the field. A common technique used on giant whitetails that are out of shooting range is commonly known as, “hope and pray”. Although it seldom works, it was the method that Justin found himself employing as he watched those two giant bucks run does across the field. But suddenly everything changed!
An Iowa Eight Point for Justin Smith
Justin’s keen eye’s picked up movement to his right. When he turned his head and looked in that direction a huge Iowa eight point buck materialized from behind the material of the blind. The buck was at 25 yards and was covering ground fast. Without thinking he grabbed his bow, drew, and released, seemingly all in one fluid motion.
The shot looked good but the deer acted like it wasn’t hit. Doubt started creeping into Justin’s mind as he played the shot over and over in his mind. He thought maybe the wind had derailed his aim and it could be possible the shot wasn’t as lethal as first thought. The deer had departed in the direction of his Dad’s stand so he sat and waited until dark before crawling out of the blind.
When Justin met up with his Dad after dark he asked him if he had seen the buck come his direction or not? The answer received was not what he had wanted to hear, and it only added more doubt into his already doubting mind. The decision was made to leave and return in the morning for a thorough search of the area.
A Hope and a Prayer
The next morning Justin returned to the ground blind from the previous night and actually sat and waiting as his Dad made use of the morning hunting hours. Shortly after daylight he heard a car hit a deer from half a mile away. Once again he “hoped and prayed” it wasn’t his deer that had been hit by the car. A little later when the two hunters walked out to the road to investigate the collision, they found a 160 inch buck had been killed. The deer had actually been coming down the fence line towards Justin’s dad’s tree stand when it was hit while crossing the road.
The two then went back to the ground blind to begin the search for evidence of a hit from the night before. While looking for Justin’s arrow they found a couple small drops of blood. It was enough to lend positive hope!
With renewed encouragement Justin entered into a waist high strip of grass buffer that bordered the picked corn field. He hadn’t gone forty yards when he came upon the dead buck. The deer hadn’t gone 50 yards after being hit by the perfectly placed arrow. Justin had actually walked within 10 yards of the buck when he departed the area the night before!
There’s something about big 8 points that can make even seasoned whitetail veterans drool. A high scoring eight will leave little to be desired, and any eight-pointer that scores north of 160 inches is certainly within exclusive company. Justin’s great buck definitely reaches elite status, scoring an impressive 163 inches as a pure 4×4.
There are a couple of intriguing notes you may find of interest. The first being, this was the first time either Justin or his Dad had ever seen this deer. That’s unusual in its own when you consider their commitment to hunting and monitoring the local deer herd. Another interesting fact is this one of three bucks Justin has taken on November 14th that scored over 150 inches, being successful in 2009, 2010, and again in 2011.
This fact only lends support to the point; you don’t mess with a deer hunter’s November!
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