December 29: Dawn Jensen

Dawn had a buck nicknamed “Amarillo” on her mind for over two weeks when she finally connected with him during the Iowa muzzleloader season.

Glassing with her Leupold binoculars around her Iowa farm during Iowa’s second shotgun season, Dawn identified this buck that she had only previously seen in Reconyx pictures from August. He seemed to disappear in September but returned in December. There was no stand setup on the cut corn field he appeared in, so her and husband Beau erected a tower blind on the north end of the field. 

The next north wind that came through found Dawn in the newly built blind scanning the field for Amarillo. That evening he did show, though through a line of trees and 300 yards away. Two more sits in that stand resulted in nothing. Dawn hunted Christmas Eve and saw him again, but he walked away and didn’t present an opportunity. 

After talking it over with Beau, they decided to setup a blind on the next ridge over, closer to where Amarillo was stepping out. Her first hunt in the new location the buck was a no-show. The second hunt in the new location the deer popped out within 100 yards of her original blind. Of course he would. 

The next night, though the wind was marginal, she decided to go back to the original blind but keep the windows closed to mitigate scent. Her and her camera man Ian got into the blind around 2:00 pm. An Arctic air mass from the north spilled frigid temps across the area but Dawn kept warm and ready to shoot in her Nomad Harvester camo. 

At 4:55, Dawn caught movement in the corner of the field. It was a buck with its head down. At 300 yards, all she could make out were tines. Eventually the buck lifted its head and from the profile it was clear. Amarillo was in play. With the Leupolds, Ian confirmed it was indeed Amarillo. With daylight dwindling, things had gotten serious. 

The buck appeared to be on a mission and closed the distance to the blind down to 80 yards in little time. Dawn waited until he was clear of another doe and then settled the crosshairs of her Leupold scope on his vitals. Dawn clicked the safety off of her Traditions Vortek and took the shot. Amarillo bucked and ran off into the drainage he appeared out of. His run lasted 100 yards before piling up. 

Deer hunting can be frustrating at times. You set up here and the deer shows up over there and vice versa. Success demands persistence, and that’s just what Dawn exercised. 

As told to Tim Kjellesvik.