After a tough 2022 deer season, veteran hunter Dan Infalt found redemption with a late-October opportunity
|Rack Report Details|
|Time of Year:||October 27, 2023|
Dan Infalt’s Wisconsin public-land buck scored 170 inches. Image courtesy of Dan Infalt
Dan Infalt is no stranger to big whitetails. The Hunting Beast founder could fill barn walls with his deer mounts, and has been featured in numerous Realtree.com articles. In 2021, I wrote about a 170-inch public-land deer that he killed. But in 2022, Infalt hit a slump — something all seasoned deer hunters go through.
“Since that last big buck I shot, I’ve had a run of bad luck,” he said. “Last year, I shot three big bucks and didn’t recover any of them. I shot a lot. I practiced like crazy. My arrows kept exploding and not getting penetration. So, I changed a lot of my equipment.”
But this season, the rough patch continued. On a recent out-of-state trip, Infalt shot at a massive Iowa buck, but the arrow deflected off a limb. That was another crushing blow to morale.
The mental grind continued when Infalt returned home to Wisconsin and couldn’t avoid other hunters. The pressure continues to ramp up around his home, and it’s become a serious struggle to escape from it.
After the harvest, one of the other public land hunters chasing this buck shared his trail camera photos with Dan. Image courtesy of Ehrin Eisenburg
On October 27, 2023, the memory of his Iowa mishap was still fresh on his mind. It was also his wife, Carol’s, birthday. “My wife reminded me that I haven’t spent her birthday with her in five years,” Infalt said.
So, he decided to spend the day with her. They shared the morning and lunch hours together. Then, just after noon, Infalt started pacing and looking out the windows. Misting rain. Cool temperatures. Late October. He knew deer were moving.
“You know what, just go,” Carol laughed.
“She didn’t have to tell me twice,” Infalt explained.
That afternoon, he decided to hunt a small tract of public ground. When he pulled into the parking area, numerous other vehicles were already there. That was disheartening.
“There were so many cars in the parking lot that I had to pull off to the side,” Infalt said. “I think there were four when I got there. It had me kind of rattled. And I had to walk past hunters to get back there.”
Even so, he gathered his gear and trekked into an area he’d scouted the previous season. “I hunted the area for the first time last year,” Infalt said. “Most of it is a buckthorn flat. I hung a treestand about 6 feet off the ground [last year]. I shot a buck, and hit the spine, but the arrow exploded, and I didn’t find him.”
Reflecting on the past year’s encounter, and some of his scouting intel from early spring, Infalt picked a new treestand location that overlooked key trails. The deer sign wasn’t as good as it looked before. Nonetheless, this was his hand to play.
This buck sports long tines, bladed points, heavy mass, and more. Image courtesy of Dan Infalt
Around 3 p.m., after an hour of carefully walking in, bypassing cell cam after cell cam, and another hour of slowly setting up, he climbed into his treestand. He was about 12 feet off the ground, and leaf cover was poor, but it was the best and highest stand selection the thick underbrush allowed.
A few minutes after settling in, a buck roar vocalization echoed throughout the buckhorn thicket.
That can’t be a deer, Infalt thought. That’s one of those hunters.
In the back of his mind, he knew it was a deer, though. So, he grunted back at it.
Immediately, a buck barged out of its bedding area and walked a trail directly in front of Infalt. He drew back, settled in, and took the 10-yard shot. The arrow blew through the heart, and the deer trotted off. It disappeared, and then crashed.
The long drag out was well worth it. Infalt tagged another great buck. Image courtesy of Dan Infalt
After a few minutes, Infalt climbed down and looked for blood and sign. He retrieved his arrow, looked up, and saw the buck lying dead up the trail.
“I had absolutely no history with this buck, which is abnormal for me,” Infalt said. “It’s a pretty cool deer. As you can see from the video, I was emotional about it, especially after the slump I had.”
Incredibly, after Infalt posted photos of his deer, another hunter saw it and confirmed he was one of the other hunters hunting that tract. He sent Infalt some trail camera photos of the deer. Infalt estimates the buck to be about 170 inches.
If you’d like to see the full hunt, check it out on The Hunting Beast’s YouTube channel.