Anything But Typical!

Anything But Typical!

Casey Knight's southwest Iowa 14-pointer might rank as the highest-scoring typical bow kill in the state in 2008, but the season -- and the hunt -- that led up to it was . . . (September 2009)

Casey Knight's southwest Iowa bow kill netted 185, enough to claim the top ranking for 2008 Iowa typical bow kills.

Photo courtesy of Randy Templeton.

Casey Knight of Cresco certainly isn't new to seeing or handling big deer. In fact, he's seen and mounted plenty for customers in his Whistlin' Wings Taxidermy shop.

But Knight's dream was to shoot a big Midwestern buck of his own. Little did he know that dream would become reality this past November while hunting with John and Jeff Miller. Not only did Knight shoot the buck of a lifetime, the mainframe 6-by-7 would turn out to be Iowa's largest typical taken with a bow in 2008.

"Before this year, my biggest deer had been a 130-class 10-point taken during the muzzleloader season," Casey began. "Every year it seemed like I had big deer in the area, but just hadn't been able to connect. This year wasn't any different. I had trail camera pictures of three or four nice shooter bucks and high hopes of shooting one of them."

EARLY SEASON

"The season got off to a good start," Knight recalled. "In fact, that first week I had close encounters with three different big bucks. The first was a big 8-point that I had trail cam pictures of. When he came in and offered a shot, I simply misjudged the distance and shot right under him.

"An hour later, I spotted a 170-class 10-point coming down the same trail. Having missed the other buck, I now knew the distance and was determined not to make the same mistake. For whatever reason, the buck stopped a few steps short. That's when I heard a muzzleloader shot. Almost instantly the buck spun around and headed back the opposite direction. I wasn't sure who fired the shot, but since the youth season was still open, I could only assume it was someone hunting across the road.

"The next three weeks were slow. In fact, I hadn't seen a single deer, not even a doe. I couldn't figure it out; it was like someone had flipped a switch and the deer simply disappeared from the area."

PRIME TIME BEGINS

"I got a call from my friend, John Miller, in southwest Iowa. Jokingly, John said, 'If you come down here, you just might shoot a 200-inch buck.' Considering how my season had gone so far, I decided to take him up on the offer.

"That first afternoon I hunted from a stand hung in a point off a small timber bordering the edge of a pond. The surrounding area was mostly scrub brush and pasture, quite different than the big hardwood timbers I was used to hunting. Nevertheless, I saw several deer that evening, one 5-pointer and the rest does.

"The following morning I hunted a stand in an Osage Orange (hedge) grove along a creek. Around 10 a.m., I saw a nice 8-point, but not the kind of deer a guy would shoot. The rest of the morning was uneventful.

"That afternoon, Jeff (John's brother) took me to one of his personal hunting spots. The stand was hanging in a lone tree in the middle of a wide creek bottom surrounded by waist high switch grass. Trails crisscrossed through the tall grass from all directions. The hillside to the left was a thick pine grove. To the right side of the stand was another pine grove.

"Before climbing up, I took a drag­line soaked with Code Blue scent and walked a wide circle around the stand site. Afterward, I hung the dragline on a branch below the stand.

"Jeff was hardly out of sight when a small 8-point came walking out of the pine trees on the hillside to my left and continued right past me. Not more than a minute later, another small buck came out of the trees, and basically followed the same path."

"Only a couple of minutes later a doe popped out of the pine trees, and right behind her was a big buck. He looked like a solid 150-class buck, one I'd shoot given the chance.

"My grunt call was in my pack, but before I could pull it out, the buck had disappeared. I decided to try blind grunting, with hopes of calling him back. I made three short grunts, but nothing happened right away, so I figured that was a wasted effort.

"Having just put the call away, I heard a deer jump to my left and back in the pines. I didn't see anything, but got my bow ready just in case. All of a sudden, the big buck came crashing through the trees and popped into the open. I drew and attempted to settle the sight pin, but the lower bow cam hit the seat. The buck made a grunt and took off on a fast walk around the tree. I kept the pin on the vitals, while at the same time trying to get him stopped with grunts. That wasn't working, so I yelled, 'Hey!'

"The buck stopped, grunted once, and took off again. I yelled again, and that time he stopped long enough to settle the pin and get the shot off. At nearly the same instant, I heard a loud crack. The deer jumped and ran a few feet, then stopped. At first I thought I'd missed, but then I spotted the Tracer nock blinking on the ground. He walked a few more feet, hunched up and began panting. From what I could see, the arrow had entered in the right spot, but was deflected and exited rearward. I knew then the buck was paunch shot. I tried to get another shot off, but launched that arrow into outer space. The buck stood there for probably 10 minutes before he slowly walked off.

"I gave the deer a good half-hour before climbing down to retrieve the arrow. There was a pile of blood where the buck had been standing. After following the trail for another 15 feet, I decided to back out. Assuming the buck wouldn't cross the creek and climb the steep bank, I headed back out the way we came in. When I got to the fence, I spotted a pile of blood on the other side. That's when I knew the buck had done the exact opposite of what I thought.

"I had no more than crossed the fence when a huge buck jumped up and took off running. I couldn't help but believe I'd totally messed up. To avoid making matters any worse, I headed for the road going the complete opposite direction.

"By the time Jeff arrived, I was so emotionally sick I was nearly in tears. After explaining to Jeff what had happened, he reassured me the deer would be dead, but felt we should wait until morning to take up the trail.

"It was a sleepless night, and I couldn't get the deer off my mind. Around 7 a.m., (we) started the search where I last found blood at the fence. We began following the blood trail and soon realized it didn't lead to the spot where the buck jumped up. In fact, it went t

he complete opposite direction. No doubt, I had kicked up a different buck.

"We followed the sign for maybe 100 yards and came to spot where the buck had bedded down. Another 25 yards from there, the blood trail petered out. I found one small speck of blood and called Jeff over to take a look. While I continued looking, Jeff went up ahead to check out a deer trail. He hadn't gone far when I heard him say, 'Casey, here's your deer.' Those had to be the best words I've ever heard.

"Other than watching my kids being born, I'd have to say walking up on that deer was one of the happiest moments of my life. I don't remember much about what I said or did, but I'm told I dropped to my knees and gave the buck a big hug.

"When we got back to the shop, Jeff put a tape to the antlers and came up with (an unofficial) gross score of 199 and a net score of 186.

"To ensure everything was legitimate, the following morning we called the local game warden and asked him to come out and confirm the buck was a legitimate bow kill.

"Considering how my season had gone before this, to end it with a 200-inch deer is still hard to believe," Knight recalled. "To hunt with great people like (the Millers) is an experience that I'll remember for a lifetime. And I'm extremely grateful to them for giving me that opportunity. My wife, Jessica, also played an important role. Without her support, none of this would have been possible."

One of the most interesting facts about Casey Knight's deer wasn't discovered until after he got home. While skinning out the deer and preparing the cape for tanning, Knight discovered three .22-caliber bullets in the head and 13 birdshot pellets in the neck and shoulders. The deer had nearly fallen victim to poachers.

After the 60-day drying period, Pope and Young measurer Loren Miller officially measured Casey's buck. The 14-point typical grossed 197 6/8, and netted 185 0/8. At press time, it was the largest typical reported by any bowhunter in Iowa in 2008.

Editor's Note: To book a hunt with John and Jeff Miller, call (712) 542-0936 or (712) 350-0107.

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