The ticking clock was winding down in phase thirteen as Mark made one last attempt to cross paths with a buck he’d only ever seen in pictures.

Winter of 2016 had proved to be warmer than most; so when a mass of arctic air came gusting in from the North West during late muzzleloader season in Iowa; Mark knew he’d have to be out with his Traditions StrikerFire. He was looking for the exclamation point to an already incredible year.

That punctuation he hoped would come from a mature buck he began seeing in Reconyx pictures back during the 2015/2016 season. The deer seemed to only show up in December and he’d never actually laid eyes on him…an apparent long-shot. Despite (and really, because of) the frigid temps, he set up in a Muddy blind and hunkered down for an afternoon of bracing himself against the icy wind.

Blustery winds put the deer on edge and delayed their arrival to the field until around 4:15 pm. Mark had honed in on a 300 acre zone where he made a concerted effort to place cameras, taking care to set them on edges to not intrude and bump the deer. He got only a few pictures of this buck, but they were enough to focus his time on this field of cut corn near a bean field tucked back into cover. The area was actually designed for bowhunting, with Mark’s telltale horseshoe shaped food plot as the finishing touch to the setup. This plot featured BioLogic Winter Bulbs and Sugar Beets…critical for deer seeking calories to stave off the cold.

Around 5 pm, Mark finally had a visual on a buck that had been elusive for two seasons. The deer stepped out to join the rest of the herd that had already been feeding nervously in the high winds. At 30 yards, he finally presented a shot. Mark fought off his cold-induced trembling just long enough for the Striker Fire to thunder through the frigid air. The hit was good and the buck made it only 100 yards before falling over.

Looking back on the hunt, Mark cites his Reconyx trail cams for his ability to finally get a fix on this guy’s location and the cold front for getting him up on his feet during daylight. The clock was winding down, but there was still time. Mark used the sliver of season remaining in phase thirteen to wrap up an amazing season on a deer he’d never encountered in person.

As told to Tim Kjellesvik.