Story and photos by: Beau Ohm
Un-ironically, I understand that by calling this buck, the 'No Name Buck' I am naming him, but for the two years I spent chasing this deer, I never gave him a name.
I never had to differentiate him from any other bucks. He was in a league of his own. Bucks that like him tend to get a reputation, especially in areas with high hunting pressure. So, I kept the existence of this buck pretty close to my chest. Even now, I am hesitant to tell this story in detail.
Hunting in my immediate area, you seldom find serious bow hunters. You are more likely to find the weekend warrior shotgun hunters who shoot whatever they can regardless of age or size. As frustrating as it can be to watch the weekend warriors shoot all the deer with potential, I can’t blame them. Most of their hunting experience has traditionally been just that, one weekend a year where they shoot whatever they can and occasionally stumble into a big buck.
Disclaimer: contradictory to what I said above, I am not a whitetail purist. I will shoot a 3 ½ year old buck if his rack is big enough. I like to hunt, and I like to eat venison.
The story of the No Name Buck started two years ago when I got a glance at him late one October evening as the sun was setting. I could tell immediately he was a 3 ½ or 4 ½ year-old deer based on body and rack size, and I also knew if given the opportunity, I would shoot him. That was the only time I saw him in 2019. Later that year, I was able to harvest a mature 8-pointer in southern Iowa and my bowhunting was over for the year. Silently, I hoped for the rest of the season that no weekend warrior would have the opportunity at him. There were rumblings that a group of shotgun hunters in the near-by area had wounded a “good” buck on a deer drive. One hunter swore he shot him in the guts before he disappeared into a corn field. Thankfully for me, and not the farmers in my area, it had been an exceptionally wet spring and planting had been postponed, leading to corn fields unable to be harvested until much later.
Muzzleloader season came and went with no sign of the buck. I was resigned to thinking the No Name Buck was dead in the one remaining corn field in our county. The field was finally harvested mid-January, but no dead deer. Lucky break. Fast forward a month and I got trail cam pictures of him, no gunshot wound and by the looks of it, very healthy.
Shed season came around and I scoured the entire property with no luck. Fast forward once again to August 2020, he shows up again in magnificent fashion. He had easily put on 25 plus inches of antler and looked surreal. I knew right then this was going to be the buck I chased this year.
From the first picture of him with his 2020 headgear, I started to pattern his every movement. Anytime I got a picture of him, I would look back into the historical weather records and record the date, temperature, time, wind speed and wind direction, and a short description of what I thought he may be doing or where he was headed. I did this for two months and started to notice that on a south wind, he would walk to the north bedding along the river and on a north wind day, he would walk to the south bedding cover. He was smart about it too; he would consistently walk in the river and cross at the most unsuspecting spots. But I was picking up on his pattern
October 29th I was at work and got a notification from my cell cam. For the first time at 8:53am, the No Name Buck was picked up by my trail cam in the daylight, sprinting down the river headed south. I checked the weather - a northeast wind switching to a southeast wind around 3:00pm. I had to get out into the stand. I told my boss the deal and he told me I better get out and make it happen. The stars were aligning. I called a couple of my buddies and told them what was going on, they were as hopeful as I was.
It was almost 3:00pm before I got to the stand. The stand was located in such a way that I only had one shooting lane. If I were to ever get a shot at the No Name Buck, he would have to walk into an opening about 10-feet across and no further than 42 yards. The only way to get to the stand is by wading across the river. It decreases the chance of bumping a bedded deer and carries my scent away when walking through the water. None of that made a difference this day. In my haste to get to the stand, I was almost jogging. I was sweating profusely. Upon successfully wading across the river and getting to dry land, I jumped a buck bedded under my stand. I ended up doing everything wrong on the way in. I climbed into my stand and took off my Aegis Jacket and set it on my seat, unzipped my Cronos Hoodie as far as it would allow me to and sat down and tried to stop sweating. I was sure I ruined the hunt. Pissed off at the world, I grabbed my rattling antlers and smashed them together as if to take out my frustration. To my surprise, two small bucks got up from their bedding no farther than 90 yards to the north of me and came to 20 yards. I was frozen in place. One of the yearling bucks came right to my tree, sniffed around and laid back down no more than 5 yards away. Just what I needed; a yearly buck to act as a warning alarm.
I finally caught a break when the yearling buck turned and laid his head down facing the opposite direction. A bachelor group of turkeys came walking by and a couple deer filtered through without as much as a glance in my direction. I had finally stopped sweating and was enjoying my sit. As I watched the yearling buck avoid falling asleep by bobbing his head up and down, I heard a thunderous grunt come from the south. The young buck’s head shot straight up and so did my eyes.
The grunt was also met by the sight of a doe running directly at me. She stopped 3 yards in front of the yearling buck, like she had done it on purpose, but as soon as the yearling stood to his hooves to greet her, the doe shot off as quickly as she had arrived. Fully expecting to see the yearling chase after her, I looked back down and he had not moved. His eyes were fixed to the south. I followed his and there, at 70 yards and closing, was the No Name Buck. All I seemed to focus on were his brown tines and I knew I needed to grab my bow.
At 5:09pm, the No Name Buck walked past the same trail camera that picked him up earlier in the morning. This time, walking back to the north with the advent of the southeast wind. The yearling still had not moved a muscle as the No Name Buck walked up to him. I knew the distance couldn’t have been more than 25 yards, but I ranged it anyway. 24 yards. No Name Buck stopped broadside in my shooting lane at 24 yards with his head down. I never had to stop his movement. It was like I went into autopilot. I lined up my peep, felt my knuckle reach my anchor point, exhaled and released the arrow. Double lung shot. He bounded off but the does, the yearling and myself were left motionless and speechless. It unfolded just as I had imagined it. I never questioned the shot from the stand. I replayed it in my head and the arrow entered right where I had wanted it to.
I heard a crash about 30 seconds later. I couldn’t be sure if it was my deer, but my gut told me it was. I waited 30 more minutes and climbed down to look at my arrow. Not as bloody as I would have expected but bloody nevertheless. I decided I couldn’t wait to look. I started on the blood path and it only led about 100 yards before I ran into the No Name Buck. He was massive. Body huge. Rack huge. I thanked God for blessing me and started making phone calls. I had done it.