November 17: Louie Payne

In Iowa with the clock and circumstances stacked against him, Louie shows us why it ain’t over ‘til it’s over.

In October of 2014, Louie had a tree stand accident that sidelined him from the woods. Now back in the whitetail game, he’s still working through the healing process and overcoming the effects of his injuries. One of the most significant challenges he faces is needing to hunt from the ground. At this point, climbing into a tree stand isn’t feasible.

Louie and cameraman Lonnie had ten days to put a trophy on the ground. Six of those days were all day sits in their Muddy Hay Bale blind. Dark to dark. All day.  Add to that grind, the warmer than usual temperatures and the unpredictability of big bucks during the rut put odds against the guys.

Don’t tell that to Louie though.

As the clock wound down, they got pictures from their Reconyx cameras on scrapes showing a big eight and a big ten. They had an encounter with the eight, but never an opportunity for a shot.

On Wednesday, November, 16, a day before they had to leave, they had pictures of a great six by four that had visited the same draw they were hunting that very morning. Louie knew it was now or never and this deer was their last chance of accomplishing the mission.  He also knew they’d have to alter their tactics.

Enter decoy George.

George was set up in front of the blind and an hour before dark, Lonnie caught movement in the woods. He whispered to Louie, “Here comes a deer.” It was the six by four, but he wasn’t charging right in. He was curious, but cautious and hung up at sixty yards. Despite all his calling tricks, Louie couldn’t get him to budge and the buck walked away over the hill.

It was still shooting light and the guys weren’t giving up until the bitter end, which is a good thing because fifteen minutes later a doe came running their direction from over the hill. Guess who was behind her?

The doe tucked herself into some brush near Louie and Lonnie’s blind. Though close on her tail, the buck skirted their shooting lanes and got behind the blind as close as thirty yards. This was the final scene in a ten day whitetail saga that was about to end in either tragedy or triumph. Louie’s thumping heart knew the pressure was on.    

A smaller buck had snuck in behind the blind and the six by four immediately ran him off then turned his attention back to the doe. His interest in her brought him in front of the blind and got him curious about the decoy too. At forty yards, he finally stepped towards the decoy and into a shooting lane. Louie drew his PSE Decree and took the shot. The Rage Extreme struck liver and one lung as the deer wheeled to escape. Not completely certain of the shot, the guys retrieved the blood covered arrow and backed out to review footage back at the hotel.  They sent it one to Mark who confirmed it looked like a good hit.

The next morning they found the 164 5/8 buck just 80 yards from their blind. Relieved they had killed in Iowa with so many factors against them, the significance of this deer truly sunk in for Louie. It was his first deer since that tragic day in October 2014. If anyone doubted Louie’s ability to return to bowhunting, doubt no longer.  

As told to Tim Kjellesvik