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December 5: Mike "Klemm" Klemmensen

Mike and DOD Team Member Tom Ware were hunting in Iowa when "Klemm" connected with this "Crabby 7" that they have had Reconyx pics of at age 3 (2010), 4 (2011), 5 (2012), 6 (2013), and 7 (2014)!  Always a cool story when you have that much history with one of these whitetails! 

In 2007, a few months before my now first-grader was born, a buck fawn discovered new life somewhere in the vicinity of my partner Tom’s home in Iowa. Only the good Lord knows when he moved on to Tom’s farm or even when his first picture was taken. No real significance to this deer and nobody gave much notice to the small-racked 7-pointer that started showing up on the Reconyx cameras in 2009; BUT they would. By the time he was four, he was not-so-affectionately known as “Crabby” due to his crab-like claw on his left side. “Crabby” was what manager’s call a cull buck…..because it was obvious by the time that he was five that he would never grow substantial antlers….and he would never be a TROPHY.

In November of 2012, while filming him in the Memorial field, “Crabby” gave me the meanest stare that I’d ever seen by a whitetail….it felt like a disrespectful challenge. At this age of 5 “Crabby” was truly earning his name; not only did he have the distinctive crab claw antler (albeit much larger), he also had a five–year-old-buck attitude….he was crabby and he was a bully. It seemed like every time we saw him he was pushing bucks off the field; he was one of the dominant bucks at the Memorial and we knew we HAD to take him out. To this day I remember that stare…..and it was at that moment I wanted to shoot him!!!

During the first Iowa Gun Season that same year, Tommy and I set out with the muzzleloader…….I was going to take out “Crabby” and Tom was going to put down on film…..”Crabby” never showed and we ended up harvesting “Phelps”….a 161 inch nine pointer with a huge frame…..a TROPHY for sure!.....but I couldn’t stop thinking about “Crabby” and that stink-eye that he had given me earlier in the year.

In 2013, we went after him again….now, as a six year old, “Crabby” was ornerier than ever….I mean down right bad-tempered and combative. He came to the Boss Buck for Tom’s wife while she was bow hunting….but never gave her a good shot angle. As the season progressed he managed to stay out of bow range. With muzzleloader in hand we thought we’d get him; but we never had the right wind to hunt his home turf…..”Crabby” would make it to the ripe age of 7…..a year for each point on his head.

In 2014, “Crabby” once again showed up on the Reconyx pics….but now he had widened his range. Tom would typically only see him on the Memorial field; now he was showing up regularly on other parts of the farm… we once again focused a lot of our attention on the 7-pointer. On the morning of November 19th, Tom thought he had him. “Crabby” was within 10 yards of taking a Rage but it wasn’t to be….instead “Crabby” bedded down in plain sight of Scott and Tom; surely insulting them both and leading to the death of yet another one of his rivals. Fast forward to December 6th, the first day of Gun Season and I had the Traditions Muzzleloader and a good wind to hunt the Memorial. The plan came together….”Crabby” stepped out to bully two small bucks in the food plot….and has he escorted a small spike, 6 years his junior off the field, the Traditions laid him to rest.

Back at the house we celebrated has hard as we had in a long time late into the night…we were pumped for sure. As I reflect on all the history with this buck; all the Reconyx pics, all the video, all the sightings, and the planning and effort to take him brings both joy and sadness. We’ve talked about this buck as much as any buck on Tom’s farm....and he has provided us with so many memories. Not seeing him patrol the Memorial will be odd and for the first time in a long time we won’t be looking for “Crabby’s” sheds.

No, “Crabby” will proudly hang on the wall with the others……and he just might be my BEST TROPHY!!!!!  Klemm