Justin Smith Iowa Eight Point

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!

Iowa eight Point taken by Justin Smith
Justin Smith and his impressive 163 inch Iowa eight point whitetail.

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!

Just Smith Iowa Eight Point
An impressive view of the Justin Smith Iowa eight point

Elite Company

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.

Justin Smith Iowa Eight Point
Almost perfect symmetry and a beautiful sweep to Justin’s Iowa eight point.

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!

Have you signed up for the FREE “Buck-Tales” Newsletter? Click here and do so now! I promise no spam, no clickbait, and no sharing your info. Just news and notes from the world of big whitetails, and an occasional story like this one about the Justin Smith Iowa eight point!

A Giant Saskatchewan Drop Tine Buck

Two Year Quest for a Giant Saskatchewan Drop Tine Buck

Thank you for reading The Whitetail Shooters Big Buck Blog and this story about a giant Saskatchewan Drop Tine buck.

When you spend two years after one particular buck the hunt takes on an element of personal challenge. As many of you know from similar accounts, the story doesn’t always end in the hunters favor. However, when the pursuit of a particular buck reaches the level of obsession, the hunter seldom quits before the very last minute of legal hunting season.

It doesn’t take long, or much pressure, before a mature whitetail realizes he’s being hunted, and once they make that realization they become almost impossible to harvest by legal means. In most cases the deer will relocate to a quieter area with little or no pressure. Or they may become nocturnal, which is a natural occurrence among mature bucks; the cover of darkness becomes their greatest ally.  However, when a buck uses both tactics, relocating and becoming completely nocturnal, it suddenly becomes all but impossible to even find them within the limited allotted time of a fall hunting season. These are two of the toughest obstacles a deer hunter can overcome, and each of these tactics within itself has been the reason for many mature bucks to survive another season. It takes a seasoned and savvy hunter to pick up on these bucks and more times than not they are only setting themselves up for failure.

John Moore is just the type of hunter that will take up that type of challenge. John grew up on Cape Breton Island where he punched many of his whitetail tags while chasing bucks through the hardwood ridges, swamps and thick Spruce forests of the island. John now lives in northwest Saskatchewan and hunting here is a little different than what he was used to on Cape Breton.

John knows the importance of being within the game 365. He spends countless hours glassing fields, looking for sheds, and running trail cameras. This dedication has paid off with a wall full of above average deer, both whitetail and mule deer. Not being real keen on road hunting, John enjoys spending time glassing an area. Knowing full well that in Saskatchewan a hunter usually doesn’t have to go far before finding a shooter buck.

In 2014 he had permission to hunt a particular area for Elk and while spending time watching the fields for a good bull he kept seeing a decent number of whitetails. A couple of these bucks were of pretty good size and his attention was soon focused on a large Saskatchewan drop tine buck. After the Elk hunt was over he placed a bait and camera within the area in hopes of capturing daylight photos of one of the bigger bucks that were in the area. However, after a couple card pulls it became obvious the bucks were almost completely nocturnal. Not one to give up, John looked closer at the area and after studying a topographical map he found an area a couple kilometers away that seemed like it should be quieter for the deer. He relocated his bait and reset his camera.

Three days later he checked the camera for the first time and was shocked by what he saw. There, in all his glory, was the kind of Saskatchewan drop tine buck that fills most hunters’ dreams. He had it all; tall, chocolate antlers, good mass, long points and great character including a nice drop tine. It took John all of one second to know this was the buck he was going to focus on during the  2014 season. But there was one minor problem; he had to wait three weeks for the season to open!

A Saskatchewan Drop Tine Buck Appears

Saskatchewan Drop Tine Buck
The Saskatchewan Drop Tine Buck in 2014

John kept the buck fed very well, adding more peas every five to six days as well as checking the camera. The buck was like clockwork, showing up regularly every night, but therein was another problem; the buck was only showing up at night. In typical big buck fashion, the wise veteran made one daylight appearance at 11am on November 14th, but 2kms away at the original bait site! Then, once again being true to mature whitetails, the big Saskatchewan drop tine buck completely vanished!

John hunted that first bait site for several days but the big buck never showed and the camera indicated he wasn’t around after dark either. He decided it was time to move back to his second site. Bingo, the buck was using the second bait site! Despite the camera showing only night time appearances John still put in his time hoping the big buck would make one mistake. But it wasn’t meant to be; despite sitting several days straight from daylight until dark, the season ended without a daylight sighting of the buck.

John decided to keep the bait active in the hopes of keeping the buck in the area for shed hunting. On the days of December 9, 10 and 11, the great buck was making two daylight visits to the bait, undoubtedly driven by post rut hunger. December 11th would be the last picture John would get of the buck that winter and he was worried the monarch had been lost to winter stress or possibly pulled down by wolves or coyotes. John covered the entire area during spring shed hunting hoping he’s at least find the buck dead. But there was nothing, not a single trace the great buck had ever been in the area.

A New Year and a New Plan

The thought of the buck was haunting John, he couldn’t accept the idea that the big deer was dead. As most vertebral trophy whitetail hunters know, mature bucks don’t die easy. Just because they disappear doesn’t mean they are dead. John was well aware of this fact and it’s what kept his hopes alive.

It took until October first for the big buck to finally make an appearance. He was now bigger, with even more character and he also added a huge drop tine to his left antler! To say John was excited and relieved would be an understatement. He was now more determined as ever before to add the great buck to his wall of honor.

Saskatchewan Drop Tine Buck
Imagine Finding this Saskatchewan Drop Tine Buck on Your Trail Camera!

John kept baiting within the bucks home range but due to work commitments was only able to hunt three days in October. It didn’t really matter anyway as the buck was living up to its reputation and living life under the cover of darkness. But John had a different game plan this year. After an entire year of thinking about the deer and its patterns, he decided to abandon the ground blind and instead he built a 14 foot tall elevated stand. He hoped this would help keep his scent away from the deer and also allow him better visibility of the entire area.

The Saskatchewan weather was warm during November of 2015 and warm weather at this time of year usually means nocturnal deer. Sure enough, the buck was almost completely nocturnal. But the key word is almost; the deer had made two daylight visits in November, once on the 9th and again on the 14th. Two daylight photos of the buck in two months was all the hope John Moore needed.

The Hunt for the Saskatchewan Drop Tine Buck Begins

On November 22nd, John left the house telling his wife, “Today’s the day he’s gonna die”. He was in the stand and comfortable by 8:30 am. At 4:00pm a small buck walked into the bait. Normally a little buck would be of no interest to John but this one was often seen with the big drop tine buck, so his appearance immediately put the hunter on high alert.

Suddenly John heard the leaves rustle but thought it was just a doe walking through the high grass. He decided to look below him anyway and when he did he almost had a heart attack, standing directly below him was the drop tine buck! Having forgotten to turn the magnification down on his rifle scope, when he first pulled his gun to his shoulder all he could see in the scope was hair. John reminded himself not to panic, and with trembling hands he managed to adjust the power ring down to six. By now the buck had taken a few steps away from the stand, he was a mere 14 feet away when the 300 Weatherby barked; the buck died instantly.

After he calmed down a little and realized the buck would never move again, he sent a text message to his wife, “He’s down!” is all he sent. Then he sent a text to his Son telling him to bring the pickup. He then climbed down from the stand and finally, after two long seasons and hundreds of hours invested, he was able to put his hands on the monarch. “What a rush!” John told me. To hunt exclusively for two years after one particular deer, not once seeing the animal in the daylight, after the constant roller coaster of highs and lows, the disappearing acts, and to finally be successful on that particular buck, is something very few hunters will ever experience. It takes a special hunter with a specific mind set to pull it off.

Saskatchewan Drop Tine Buck
John Moore and his Saskatchewan Drop Tine Buck

When John’s wife and son finally arrived the first thing he said to them was, “Now what am I going to do? I have to find another one for next year!” John Moore has a Whitetail Obsession!

Some deer are built for scoring well and some deer, while being bigger, just don’t do well under a tape. But score isn’t everything. Johns buck taped out at a very respectable 164 inches. However, that number is no indication of just how big this deer really is. Great mass, width, height, and great character topped by a huge drop tine, make this deer an envy of any trophy hunter.

Have you signed up for the FREE “Buck-Tales” Newsletter? Click here and do so now! I promise no spam, no click bait, and no sharing your info. Just news and note from the world of big whitetails, and an occasional story like this one about a Saskatchewan Drop Tine buck!