November 24, 2015
Sitting in a treestand the other day, I soaked it all in, the spectacle of chasing whitetails when the leaves are turning their various shades of orange, red, yellow and brown, annual hues straight off the Creator's brilliant autumn canvas.
Lost in my thoughts, I sat there hoping beyond hope that a big, burly whitetail – the kind that area trail cameras have shown – would come strolling past my stand.
"Man, I love this sport," I mused.
Which was quickly followed up by the related thought of: "Man, do I love this spot."
Such thoughts tumbled forth from my deer hunter's noggin as I watched a flock of mallards wheel by overhead, a hundred yards or so from a major creek bottom.
A creek bottom that I hoped would prove to be the highway of love that would prove to be the undoing of a Boone & Crockett Club buck I was hoping to lay my hands upon.
While I didn't wrap my tag around that big bruiser on that particular evening, I was filled with hope during the entire sit, fueled by the knowledge that I was hunting on a little piece of whitetail heaven.
A feeling that I'm sure a number of Outdoor Channel hunting personalities and television show hosts are quite familiar with.
Not to mention other weekend warriors, like myself, occupying deer stands from coast to coast this particular November weekend.
Raised Hunting's David Holder, the one-time Montana firefighter and big game bowhunter now turned Iowa resident and whitetail expert, knows exactly the feeling that I'm talking about.
Which explains why he didn't have to think long about his answer when I asked exactly where his own favorite deer hunting hotspot happened to be.
"My first choice would be anywhere I'm able to hunt with my wife (Karin) or (the) kids," smiled Holder. "Hunting with them means the world to me.
"But if I had to pick one place, it would be my home state of Iowa, in fact, only 300 yards from our house. In a stand that we call 'Midget.' Man, I love that spot!"
Umm David, a stand called "Midget"? Why is it called that?
"That was the first stand my boys put up on their own," said Holder, referring to his teenage sons, Easton and Warren, who also serve as Raised Hunting show talent and cameramen.
"And when they were done (hanging it), it was only eight feet off the ground," Holder added with a laugh.
"But we have seen some of our biggest bucks from that stand, (although) we have never killed a deer from that stand. It just has that feel though that someday, it will be awesome."
Especially when a stand named "Midget," hung by a couple of teenage sons, produces a Midwestern giant buck for an Iowa family that has been Raised Hunting!
For another Midwestern hunter, Heartland Bowhunter co-host Michael Hunsucker, the heartland of both America and its superb deer country proves to be pretty tough to beat.
Especially when he jumps across the border from his Missouri home with a hard-earned big buck tag clutched tightly in his hand.
"It’s hard to beat Iowa and Kansas when it comes to killing big bucks," said Hunsucker.
"Both states seem to have great age structure for the most part," he added. "Deer numbers are a little less in Kansas, but you certainly get the quality over the quantity (there).
"But if I had to pick just one state, I would have to go with Iowa. However tags are a little harder to come by there than they are in Kansas."
Unless you live there, of course.
Tiffany Lakosky, wife to Lee and mother to eight-month old Cameron, does liver there. And because of her Big Buck Down! fortune, she totally understands Hunsucker's pick of Iowa as a favorite hunting spot.
"Our favorite place to hunt whitetails is, of course Iowa," said Tiffany, who co-hosts Crush with Lee & Tiffany each week on Outdoor Channel.
"Every dollar that we have ever made has been spent buying our farms, building food plots and passing younger buck after buck with the hopes of them growing into giants."
If you've ever watched the Crush television show, then you know that more times than not, that's exactly what has happened on the Lakosky's carefully managed farms.
But not always, says Tiffany.
"Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't, but still the satisfaction of waking up and walking out our back door is not something I can even explain," she said. "I guess it's like the old saying, there's no place like home!"
Indeed. And especially when that home is in the big buck rich state of Iowa.
For Nicole Reeve, who co-hosts the popular Driven with Pat & Nicole television hunting program with her husband Pat, her answer involves a couple of different spots.
"For both of us, it's Illinois and Saskatchewan," said Nicole. "Both are completely different hunting styles (though).
"Illinois, (it) seems like anytime during hunting season is good whether it's the early season, the rut or even the late season. It doesn't matter when, we always love to hunt in Illinois."
With some of the couple's biggest bucks ever taken coming from the Land of Lincoln, it's easy to understand that sentiment.
But then again, neither Pat nor Nicole mind heading north of the border where they've also had plenty of big buck success.
"In Saskatchewan you never know what's going to walk out of the thick bush," said Nicole. "You hunt such large and vast areas (up there) and their dark chocolate horns help make it one of our favorite spots to hunt. Saskatchewan is one of the only places you'll find them with those dark horns!"
Unless you go far south in the U.S., that is, near the other international border where Texas and Mexico meet.
And there, on the right Tecomate food plot, you'll also find a few good chocolate antlered big bucks too.
Just ask former college football star and retired NFL wide receiver Jordan Shipley.
Because despite chasing big whitetails the past couple of years from Montana to Wyoming to Oklahoma to Kansas to Wisconsin and even on to Canada, the Boerne, Texas-based co-host of The Bucks of Tecomate television show loves to chase whitetails in his home state.
Hey, it's all part of the job description, right?
Given Shipley's longtime roots in the Lone Star State – not to mention the fact that his Outdoor Channel television career was birthed in the state a couple of years ago – it's not surprising that he enjoys hunting in the mesquite choked Brush Country of South Texas.
"South Texas (is pretty special)," said Shipley. "Evenings on a food source or right next to it and late mornings (spent) moving around and rattling."
Having occupied a South Texas stand or two in recent years, I completely understand such sentiments.
Both in terms of the love that Shipley has for the South Texas region, not to mention the sincere hope of tagging a big-time bruiser buck chasing love down a prickly pear cactus choked sendero.
It's a feeling that I suspect is nearly identical to all of the autumn dreams that are held by just about any deer hunter across the country, whether they are occupying a treestand on a Midwestern ridge, a box blind overlooking a southern green field or a tower blind guarding a Texas prickly pear flat.
Because whenever and wherever a blind overlooks a prime piece of whitetail real estate, all of the sits that hunters make in such spots are fueled by the sincere hope of filling a deer tag that is carefully tucked away in the back of a camouflaged pocket.
Even if that hunter is perched in a low-hanging deer stand that sits scarcely eight feet above the ground.