Twist of Fate

Where do we begin…?

I remember in the fall of 2004, checking the first prototypes of the Wildlife Eye and getting images of a giant nine point that I now estimate to be nine and a half years old. He had a beautiful big frame with tines that curled like bananas. That was the first time I became aware of a buck I would later nickname Chiquita.

Little did I know that it would take five years to finally close the book on one fo the most memorable, elusive, and cherished bucks I would ever hunt.

Through the years I got to know Chiquita very well. Each year I would get multiple clips of footage or Reconyx pictures. By my estimation, I’ve probably captured this buck on film at least a thousand times or more over the last five years. He was the most consistent buck on my farm. He was always there, and he always popped up on in variety of different places. I felt like my farm was his home core area. One would think that hunting there as often as I do, I would get to see this buck a lot, right? That’s where I was wrong.

I started hunting with Chiquita in mind back in 2004. He really grabbed my attention in 2005, when he blew into a mid-170 class buck, where he remained through 2009. We found at least one shed of his from 2006, 2007, and 2009 – all nearly identical (see pic at right). By my estimation from the time he was five and a half until nine and a half he grossed between 172 and 178 each year. I believe last year he was his largest at 178, which was the first time he wore a ten point rack.

I hunted him often, thought about him a bunch, and said his name more times that I can count, but never saw him. That is until the morning of October 30, 2008, when Mike Johnson and I went into one of my favorite sets. We spotted him at 150 yards. I tried calling to him, but he wouldn’t come. Little did we know we was tending a hot doe. I went the rest of the rut and didn’t see him. While scouting for late season I spotted him on a food plot, but ended up killing a 190. Chiquita eluded me yet another season.

Going into fall 2009, I knew he would be nine and a half years old, if he was even around. I began to wonder when natural mortality would set in and thought he would die of old age, never giving me the opportunity to harvest him. My Reconyx pictures told a different story. He started popping up everywhere. His frame was the same, his banana tines long as ever; his head looked extremely large, and his body was cow like. I felt as though I might have a chance to see him this year since more of the pictures were in daylight, as if he was getting weaker at his game.

Every single set I discussed with Joe Foster the name Chiquita. Joe told me that if he had a dollar for every time I mentioned that name, he could retire. I think he got sick of hearing about it!

On the morning of October 31, I finally got to say “Chiquita” because he was actually coming. Joe know the urgency and excitement of the moment. I just kept saying, “Chiquita! Chiquita! Chiquita!” He had come in to break up a fight between two 160 class deer that were fighting just out of my bow range. He headed north and I grabbed my rattling horns. I rattled twice with no response, so I put my horns down and grabbed the new MAD Hyper Growl and went crazy. Out pops another 160 and he came right in. There’s no way I was going to shoot that buck with Chiquita so close.

I continued to call, looking north where I thought Chiquita would come from. Movement caught my eye from the west. I whispered to Joe, “Chiquita! Chiquita! Chiquita! Here he comes!” Joe turns his attention to Chiquita who comes in to twenty five yards and I cleaned his clock!
That quick a five year journey had ended. All with a simple twist of fate. It was Missouri youth season. I tried to get Taylor out of bed for the morning hunt, but she pulled the covers over her head and told me to go to Iowa. I kept trying to get her up, but she refused, so I headed to Iowa. I have never been so happy that Taylor slept in and missed a deer hunt in my life!