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Trophy Buck: Long-Beamed Muzzleloader Booner Was Worth the Wait

This big late-season Iowa whitetail, taken days before Christmas, checks all the boxes.

Trophy Buck: Long-Beamed Muzzleloader Booner Was Worth the Wait

Lane Wells’ buck scored a whopping 182 inches. (Photo courtesy of Lane Wells)

Iowa deer hunter Lane Wells had two years of history with a huge non-typical buck with long main beams. His father even had a close encounter with it during the 2020 season but couldn’t get a shot. Fortunately, it returned in 2021 and the hunt continued.

"This buck showed up shortly after I harvested my bow deer on Nov. 4," Wells said. "I had to wait the rest of bow and shotgun season, crossing my fingers he made it through to late season."

He did.

Big Buck Report
Wells shot this Iowa buck with a muzzleloader on Dec. 21, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Lane Wells)

Long-Beamed Muzzleloader Booner

  • Hunter: Lane Wells
  • Date: Dec. 21, 2021
  • Location: Monroe, Iowa
  • Method: Muzzleloader
  • Score: 182 inches

Dec. 21 brought a sunny evening with 12-mph winds out of the northwest. It was about 25 degrees, which was perfect for December deer movement. Wells anticipated a good hunt.

He settled in for the afternoon in an area with partial timber, open pastures, corn and alfalfa fields. He was sitting in a blind in a fencerow corner next to a pond. There was also a patch of timber where he expected deer to be bedded.

The hunt kicked off with a few does trickling through. About 4 p.m., a couple of spikes walked out and milled around. Wells hoped the buck would follow suit, and had high hopes of it, given the deer had walked past a nearby trail camera during daylight earlier that morning.

"Around 4:30 p.m., the small bucks picked their heads up and looked back, and I noticed some movement down in the timber," Wells said. "The few does started to walk away and the smaller bucks started to disperse, which got my heart pounding. Something was coming. After a few moments, I caught a glimpse of his right side. I set my binos down, looked at my buddy Luke, and said 'Here he comes.'

"I was so worked up knowing this was the biggest deer I’ve ever had the chance to harvest. I bowed my head, started to pray to God, asked for His guidance and prayed over the animal," Wells continued. "Luke kept reminding me to breathe and stay calm, even though he was shaking just as badly as I was."

Eventually, the buck worked his way into the open. "He began lip curling, which was a sight I’ll never forget," Wells said. "In the midst of the lip curl, a small spike summoned the courage to walk up and begin sparring with the big guy."

Finally, the buck felt comfortable entering the open, and walked a few more paces. Wells cocked the hammer, settled his crosshairs and let the smoke roll. The 110-yard shot connected. The deer lunged about 40 yards and stopped to look around.

"I felt very nervous, but we could tell he was hit," Wells said. "His legs were wobbly as he turned to run back where he came from. We felt that I might have hit a little back, so we elected to wait until the next morning to look."

That night, Wells got a couple hours of sleep. He woke up at 3:30 a.m. and waited for the sun to rise. He said another prayer.

Upon arrival at the scene of the hunt, they quickly picked up the blood trail, but it went about 60 yards before drying up. They weren’t giving up, though. They grid-searched for about two hours. Then, with one last section of brush to search, Wells looked over his left shoulder and spotted the buck’s rack sticking up. He yelled to Luke and shouted the good news. At first, Luke didn’t believe him…not until Wells started jumping up and down and celebrating.

"My stomach had been in knots," Wells said. "I thought I was going to get sick, but to see that antler and white belly was like catching a glimpse of heaven. From where I had shot him to where he expired was roughly 400 yards." After analyzing the shot, Wells realized the bullet had struck the buck’s liver, which gave it enough time to cover the distance that it did.


"Every hunt is special to me one way or another, but to harvest the biggest deer of my life, and to experience that with one of my best friends, is a moment that will be locked in for life," Wells said. "I’ve been very fortunate to harvest some great deer over the years. It makes me appreciate what I’ve been blessed with. I don’t take anything for granted. Being out in the woods and nature have helped me worked through a lot of the problems life has thrown at me and helped me find myself and turn me into the person I am today."

Wells estimates the deer was 5 ½ to 6 ½ years old, and it scored 182 inches. Interestingly, the buck had grown a 7/8-inch dagger next to its left brow tine, along with a massive flyer, both of which broke off earlier in fall. Had those broken tines remained intact, the deer would have surpassed the 200-inch mark.

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