The Great Hambino
Archery Season. Iowa. Plot Twists and a Giant. Keep Scrolling, you’ll thank me.
Archery Season. Iowa. Plot Twists and a Giant. Keep Scrolling, you’ll thank me.
He’s known as AB…and he’s the man that has been behind the camera for plenty of big deer – we’re talking thousands of inches of antler and at this point, thousands of hours in the field. But, for this good ol’ boy Michigan hunter 2019 provided the opportunity to sit in the shooters stand for his first ever hunt in Iowa. What happened next is the stuff of legend – in AB’s words “We just set the world on fire!”
"Heck, they’ll even float the expensive tag fees for you"
Iowa whitetail hunting is the stuff of legend – and for many reasons – most notably the Iowa Non-Resident Deer Application process. The Iowa draw odds are meticulously calculated by the Iowa DNR in a specific way that helps manage the deer population. Season dates and lack of rifle season also help contribute to Iowa’s status as one of the top destinations for big buck hunters – but it all starts with drawing a tag – so let’s look at one of the easiest and best ways to do that…Worldwide Trophy Adventures and TAGS. WTA/TAGS is a full spectrum licensing service available to today’s sportsmen and women to help hunter’s draw the very best, limited entry big-game tags in the country. Heck, they’ll even float the expensive tag fees for you until you draw a tag! From my own hands on experience, TAGS is the easiest, most reliable and most complete service available to help assist hunters in drawing the tag of a lifetime. Before applying for a limited draw tag in Iowa you’ll need to takes few things into consideration.
"Give me one good cedar tree & I’ll show you a way to put a stand in it"
Where to hang a treestand? It’s a question that deer hunters have been asking themselves for ages – the good news is, the answer is simple…if you’ve got cedar trees.
Cedars can be found in many places across the midwest and believe me when I say this – they’re a whitetail deer hunter’s dream. Give me one good cedar tree – and by good I mean anything from 18-30ft tall and I’ll show you a way to get a stand in it. So let’s cut right to the benefits of hanging a tree stand in one of these gnarly, aromatic whitetail magnets….
Every passionate Whitetail hunter has felt IT at some point throughout their season. IT comes in many forms and at different times. IT might come from friends & family, scrolling through social media, and most of the time, IT is self inflicted. The IT I’m referring to happens to be PRESSURE.
At this point of the trip I felt like my time was running out for good. The plan was to hunt Iowa for 6 or 7 days. head back to Kansas to try and fill two buck tags, then hit the road straight back to Michigan. Here we are on day 4 and I’ve had two encounters with two really, really good bucks and still a full quiver to show for it. My brain is spinning and I continue to ask myself how many opportunities do I get before we leave. Once “The Big Nine” walked off, a feeling took over my body it was like a mix of anger served up with a side of anxiety. My brain all of a sudden stopped thinking rationally about the task at hand and started to take a negative approach. “What am I doing wrong?”, “you need to make decisions”, “force the issue”, “get REALLY aggressive”, but I knew more times than not, that could be a recipe for disaster.
At this point I just had to find a way to combat the pressure. I called some of my buddies and got their insight on the situation, Casey and I spoke about it, and It helped me gain an outside perspective to really go back and look at what got me to this point in the trip. That always seems to straighten me out and get me back into a positive mind set. From there I buckled up the boots and had to practice preparing. If you don’t know this about me, I have to be organized. It’s kind of my thing. I just wanted to make sure in the heat of the moment I had the feeling that I’ve been here before and everything else will fall into place. I made sure my pack was organized and everything was in the right spot, shot my bow, well, because let’s be honest you can never go wrong with shooting your bow. Blew off some steam and got right back into the proper mindset.
Long story short I’m in full panic mode at this point. Watch out for pressure. That little guy will sneak up on ya.
In my opinion hunters that can adapt to any situation on the fly, make the best hunters. Sure, you need to be able to read sign and understand how deer use the landscape all while hoping to have a bit of luck on your side, but I’ve always believed adapting is what separates those who are consistently successful.
Throughout the week in Iowa Casey and I were encountering 4 to 5 mature shooter bucks and for one reason or another I wasn’t presented with any shot opportunities. Once you start to see bucks like that it’s easy to become a bit complacent in your tactics, “I’m seeing good bucks why move right?”. When I talk about adapting I’m specifically looking at the little things and one of those in particular was, 4 of the 5 shooters had walked within bow range of this one particular cedar tree on the same trail. You might think it’s obvious that you need to be in that tree but you’d be surprised how many hunters wouldn’t make that decision and instead tell themselves, “Stay put, it’ll happen”.
In our situation we couldn’t move right away for a couple reasons. The first being that I’d had opportunities in the Tiny Dancer stand, so the little guy on my right shoulder was saying “don’t leave deer to find deer” while the guy on my left shoulder was saying “4 shooters in daylight by this tree in 3 days… MOVE”. At this point I begin looking at underlying factors which lead me to the second reason we couldn’t move, wind. The wind was terrible for that cedar tree for the next couple days. We didn’t move and as I’m sitting in the stand The Great Hambino made an appearance following a blind rattling sequence and passed right under that cedar tree!!! “Ok I’m moving”,I said!!! We tore the treestands down and walked them 200 yards to that cedar tree. 24 hours later The Great Hambino showed back up right under that tree at 17 yards where I tucked my pin right behind his front shoulder.
In conclusion, I think you need to strike when the striking is good. Don’t go running in guns blazing, do your homework on the fly with wind direction, bedding locations, destination food source and where the does are hanging out. Obviously this can be dependent on the situation but the quicker you can adapt the more success you’re going to find.
We’ve all been there – hot sits, long sits and cold sits – good sits and plenty of bad sits – so the question often comes up- When do I move my treestand? How do I move my treestand? even why should I move my treestand?… These are all great questions that deserve attention – so let’s take a deeper dive into the ins and outs of treestand hunting and the 3 things you must keep in mind if you’re going to make a move mid-sit.
My very first rule of treestand hunting is simple – don’t ever get married to one particular treestand set. Believe me when I say this, I’ve learned it the hard way. I have spent countless hours in treestands trying to will them into being great spots – even if the trail camera intel said otherwise. Nowadays, I go by a simple method : If I see it happen once it’s a fluke, twice it’s a coincidence and if it happens in front of my eyes for a third time – well, that’s called a pattern. Operating my hunts under that mind set has proven successful, but it also means that I have to get outside my normal comfort zone. I’ve found myself ripping down a treestand set at 4pm only to move it a hundred yards – and be back in the game by the magic hour. I’ve done it numerous times and it works…alot, but you have to pay attention to a few key elements. So with that, I’ll save you some frustration and hopefully some wear and tear and we’ll get right into what I think is important when it comes to making a move mid-sit.
I was finally able to go pick up The Great Hambino from the taxidermist. I’m not going to lie, it was a bittersweet moment to see him sitting in the seat next to me for the long trek home and I couldn’t help myself but reflect on the lifetime memories this deer has created for me.
To be honest coming into my first ever trip to Iowa to hunt was simple. First and foremost was to have fun and live it up because not a lot of people get the opportunity to hunt a state like Iowa. Secondly I wanted to kill a 4.5 year old 140” buck that was my goal. Not too much to ask right? Well lets just say I didn’t really understand what I was in for.
I’m going to try and keep this short. In the 6 days that I was there I encountered 5 bucks over 140’ two of which would be in the 170’ plus mark and I tried to draw three times on a really big 9pt that busted me at 30 yards. And ultimately I was able to kill a deer of a lifetime at 17 yards who we named The Great Hambino. I’d say it was a week to remember.
100% yes, it lived up to everything and more than what I expected. Looking back on it I was spoiled. I would’ve never imagined I would see the things I saw, have the laughs we were able to have and create lasting memories that I’ll never forget. On the flip side of things, the amount of knowledge that I absorbed in those six days just watching big deer do big deer things was incredible. It was almost like an out of body experience. One of those pinch me moments and that is truly irreplaceable. It’s really hard to sit here and muster up the right words to describe the experience of those six days but really you won’t get the same feeling that I had when I was living it, you have to live it yourself. Sorry Not Sorry!!! It’s my story and I’m sticking to it.