October 19: Mark Drury Drops the 161 4/8" Dozer


Killing a seven-year-old deer can be like finding a needle in a haystack, but if you do your homework, you can shrink that haystack down to improve your odds.

Since 2016, Mark had been observing a mature buck nicknamed “Dozer” whose home range seemed to fringe onto Mark’s 315-acre Iowa parcel. The fringing was seasonal however. He’d show up in Reconyx pictures summer through early fall, disappear during the rut, then reemerge in mid-December.

This year, Mark noticed Dozer’s pattern changing, as deer of this age class often do. They begin focusing more on food and are apt to slip up by spending more time on their feet during daylight.   When the buck began exhibiting this trait, Mark knew it was time to go full-on for Dozer and began hunting him on every west to south wind he had…even pushing the envelope and hunting on a west/northwest wind.

Four nights prior to the final hunt, Mark finally laid eyes on Dozer for the first time. His white face and double throat patch were clear indicators that this whitetail had lived a long life. He was a giant, and Mark was zeroing in on him.

The last piece of evidence that confirmed his 10-acre core zone on Mark’s property were trail camera pictures on the morning of October 18 at 3:00 am heading back to bed. That haystack had just shrunk to a much more manageable size.

Later that same day, Mark climbed up into his box blind around 4:00 pm. His eyes continued drifting back toward the trail where Dozer had traveled getting back to bed that same morning. Around 6:00 pm, the waiting was over. Dozer was inbound.

Mark slowly lifted his PSE Carbon Stealth and came to full draw with the buck standing at 35 yards. With his target buck framed up perfectly in the housing of his IQ bow sight, Mark executed the shot. The Rage Extreme-tipped arrow punched cleanly through Dozer’s shoulder as he spun to head back to cover, the mechanics of his shoulder muscles sealing up the entry wound as he ran.

With next to no blood on the ground and the daunting prospect of a nighttime grid search, Mark remembered Taylor’s Father’s Day present she had given him, a Leupold Thermal Optics unit. Within five minutes, they located the now expired Dozer crashed over 80 yards away in an impossible thicket. With flashlight alone, they couldn’t have seen him from 15 yards in that brush. The needle in the haystack had been found.

Deer behavior changes with age and so should the tactics you use to hunt them. Mark seized on Dozer’s new pattern and zeroed in on this stately Iowa buck.  

Want to see video of the actual shot? Watch it right now, exclusively on the DeerCast app. Get DeerCast for iOS or Android.