Last fall a friend of mine Jeremy Ward told me that he was a partner with a new outfitter from Iowa. He also showed me some of the huge bucks that Fat Racks Outfitters had roaming on their properties. I had previously leased some ground in Iowa for bowseason, but told him that I would be interested in trying to draw a muzzleloader tag for the late season for the following season. Man I was pumped to find out that I had luckily drawn Iowa 2 years in a row. The call was made and my hunt was booked.

On December the 31st I was on my way to pick up "Roman Candle" Rod Owen in Kansas City. We hung out and slept through the New Year's festivities in anticipation of our early morning trip to Centerville, Iowa. Fat Racks Outfitters is a new outfitter with several thousand acres. With low hunting pressure and extremely cold temperatures forecasted, we felt like the odds were good for taking home a late season buck. Scott and Angela Sebolt are owner/operators at Fat Racks and helped us get settled in. After looking at aerials and trail cam pics, we were headed to the blind. Fat Racks has a 140" minimum, unless the buck is considered mature which is at least 4 years old. The first 2 nights were uneventful as far as seeing shooters, though we saw 70 plus deer each sit. The 3rd afternoon was perfect and a big shooter walked a fence row just out of range. Snow had fallen overnight and the temperature was falling to near zero. We had decided to stick to only hunting evenings due to the heavy feeding activity, and not wanting to bust deer out in the mornings. The 4th evening, at approximately 4:30 pm, the flood gates were opening on the standing bean field that we were hunting. The bale blind we were sitting provided a decent wind block for the 20+ MPH winds that were hitting us in the face. Two mature bucks finally entered the beans around 5pm and one was toting plenty of bone to get me excited. He was mature and met all the standards. The truth of the matter was that he was #5 on the list of shooters that could've been using the food plot. I decided to wait on one of the much larger bucks. I would have been tickled with the buck, but my mind was clouded by the pictures of a Booner that was in the immediate area. I knew we still had plenty of time, so I didn't beat myself up too bad. I kept the nice 11 point on the back burner and continued to pass him in the next few days.

January 8th was bitter cold. The wind chill factor had been as low as -41 over the previous few days. Due to the amount of stands we had to choose from, we had put out several Reconyx cameras on several bean plots in the early stages of the hunt. We waited until after breakfast to run our traps and see what the Reconyx pictures had to show. We were pleased to see the deer had started to pound the beans. I had put my cameras on the time lapse feature which showed that at 4:21 pm on the 7th, we had several nice bucks hitting the plot. One deer caught my eye appearing to be around 20" wide and mature. Scott knew the deer very well and had velvet pictures of the deer that he called the "short-tined 10". After lunch, we were brainstorming on which stand to try for the evening. The stand where the short-tined 10 had just showed up was also the stand where the 170+ inch 10 pt was seen just out of range on the 3rd evening. It should have been a no-brainer except for the wind direction. The wind was to change from SW to NW from 3-4pm which would give us a good chance if the deer would repeat the pattern shown from the time lapse on the 7th. At 3pm we exited the Ram truck and popped over the hill into the bottom bean plot. The wind was now straight west which boosted our confidence in the forecast. At 4 pm and dead on schedule, Rod noticed several bucks working their way down the hill and headed for our location. One of the bucks appeared to be a wide 8 pt and over the 140" minimum. Three of the bucks headed past our stand in bow range, but the 8 point had disappeared. I strained looking through the Nikon binoculars and finally located him bedded down at 90 yards. At 5 pm several more deer came to the field surprising the 8 point and making him stand from his bed. He worked his way past me at 20 yards and I had already taken the safety off. I got him in the scope and decided that he was not the buck I had come to kill. He was legal and met the standards, but I knew that he was not the deer we were waiting for. I pulled the gun down to Rod's surprise. Literally within seconds, Rod said "Shooter at the fence!... That's the one we're after." I raised the muzzleloader and took a good rest. There were 2 other nice bucks with the short-tined 10 and they were walking past him and keeping me from being able to shoot. The buck finally walked out and gave me a clear shot at 100 yards. When the smoke cleared, the deer took off running. I honestly thought that I may have missed. I asked Rodney if I hit him and he said he was smoked. He turned and said "he's down buddy!... I just filmed him fall."... I was fairly pumped to say the least! Scott had said that he was a 5 & 1/2 year old buck and he'd love to see us get him. After watching the footage back, we knew he was ours.

Special Thanks to Scott and Angela Sebolt as well as Jeremy Ward. The food and lodging were absolutely great. We told Scott the first night that we'd probably eat out a bunch. He said "you say that now, but wait until you eat Ang's cooking..." He was right! We ate like champions! Thanks to my Dream Season partner Rod Owen for toughing it out and laying down some awesome footage. He was in it for the long haul, and we were 8 days into a 5 day hunt! Last but always, I want to thank God for the safe hunt and an awesome season. Team Reconyx has laid down 9 mature whitetails and captured some of our best footage to date. We've made some lifelong friends and truly enjoyed our late season hunt at Fat Racks Outfitters in the great state of Iowa.


Doug Hampton