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Iowa in November

November 14, 2011 by  
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For three years I’ve been looking forward to bowhunting Iowa during the rut. Finally, this year I drew a bow tag and booked my hunt with Paul Fountain of Fountain Outfitters. His past clients outfitter reviews have high ratings at and his hunts are more like a lease than a guided hunt. This is just the type of whitetail hunt I prefer. Paul manages thousands of acres across units 5 and 6 in southeastern part of the state. He runs trail cams, puts in quite a few food plots and most importantly, keeps hunting pressure to a minimum. In my experience, the number one problem with many whitetail outfitters is simply over hunting their land.

When I arrived on Tuesday November 8th Paul showed me the two farms he allocated to me. The first was about 180 acres of timbered ridges intermixed with crop fields. The second farm was about 20 miles away, a 300 acre river bottom tract with pastures, timbered ridges, and crop fields. Paul provided aerial maps of each property, as well as some commentary on key locations and deer patterns.

Both farms looked really good on paper, I picked a couple key spots to check out right away. I only had enough time the first afternoon to hang two stands on the river bottom farm, one on an oak ridge and the second down closer to the creek. By late afternoon I was perched in my Lone Wolf, deer sign was everywhere, several scrapes where a couple trails converged and big rubs scattered throughout. I was in a strip of timber near the creek bottom overlooking a cut corn field. Within 2 hours 12 does and one small buck fed around the corn stubble, but no shooters showed up.

The weather was crazy Wednesday morning, rain and sleet with winds blowing 30-40mph, we lost power in the cabin and overslept, I didn’t hunt. About 11am I drove to the first farm to scout the north end by a turnip foodplot. In years past Paul said some large B&C bucks had used that area frequently. In short, I didn’t see as much buck sign on that property as I did on the river bottom farm so I made a decision to focus all my time right there. I have learned from experience when you only have a week in a new place, you can’t waste time, get on the deer right away. The buck sign there was substantial and its layout provided several stand sites that would allow for hunting various wind directions.

I also decided to move my stand from my Tuesday evening hunt location to a heavily used creek crossing several hundred yards north that sat between two cut cornfields. Tracks were everywhere in the sandy bank and there must have been 30-40 rubs in the willows. Seemed like a hot travel corridor for the rut.

Fortunately the weather had cleared up but wind was still howling out of the NW, the deer didn’t seem care and were moving by 2:00pm. To my west, I watched a flock of turkeys and a nice 2.5yr old buck chase a lone doe nearly all afternoon. As the evening light faded I saw some does enter the other cornfield to the east. Shortly after a beautiful 150 class 10 point was chasing them all over that field. At one point when he was a little over a 100 yards away, I hit the rattling antlers, he stopped for a second and looked my way, but he wasn’t looking for fight, he had more does than he could handle right in front of him. So close but yet so far. Exciting action though, I felt confident it was only a matter of time before I got my chance. After dark I made a wide circle back to the truck to avoid spooking them.

On Thursday morning I awoke to a frosty 30 degrees and somewhat less wind. I planned to hunt my ridge top stand with my Montana doe decoy and do some more rattling. My plan was to catch a buck cruising between does. As soon as I could see I caught a glimpse of 2 does moving from a CRP field into the timber. Quickly I glassed them, but no bucks were following. So I grabbed the horns and did my best to imitate two bucks fighting.  Nothing showed up, about 15-20 minutes later I hit the horns again. This time a heavy 8 point with big brow tines burst out of the cedars about 100 yards away. Here we go! He immediately stopped when he saw the decoy, bristled up, ears laid back and headed straight to me in that sideways walk they do. I just love it when they respond like that!  He came in fast, in no time I was drawing back my Hoyt Alpha Max, I had to grunt several times to stop him and at 15 yards the Carbon Express arrow and Slick Trick head was on its way, as usual it punched completely through. He went less than 100 yards.

I love it when a plan comes together like that! Calling in a mature rutting buck like that is about as exciting as it gets for me. I enjoyed every minute of my trip and look forward to going back to the Hawkeye state.

4 Tips for Hunting a New Property with Limited time.

1) Use aerial maps to find several key locations deer commonly use like inside corners, crop fields, creeks, draws, CRP and thickets. The best spots for stands will allow you to get into them and out of them without busting a lot of deer.

2) Go scout these key locations during mid-day to minimize spooking deer, carry a stand, steps and pruning gear with you  so you can hang it immediately when you find a spot you like. Use a safety harness.

3) Set up multiple stands for the various wind directions that are in that week’s weather forecast.

4) Move if you aren’t seeing deer or feel like you are in the wrong spot.

Hope you have a great season…



2 Responses to “Iowa in November”

  1. John Stark says:

    JT does it again! Nice looking buck and the crooked tines give it a lot of character. JT is the best prepared, hardest working hunter I know and the proof is in results like this. Way to go JT!

  2. Way to go buddy, your passion and hard work paid off again! Thanks for.your kind words on my NAW article, very glad we have met. Let’s grab lunch soon.

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