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A Monster Muzzleloader Buck From Iowa

White-Tailed Deer


A Monster Muzzleloader Buck From Iowa

Posted 2024-01-31  by  Josh Honeycutt

Shelley Mullen-Sapper tagged the Hawkeye State bruiser during the October muzzleloader season

Rack Report Details
Buck:188 inches
Time of Year:October 18, 2023
Weapon: McWhorter .45 XML smokeless muzzleloader 
Image: ImageBy_Shelley_Mullen_Sapper_rack_1

Shelley Mullen-Sapper tagged a massive Iowa whitetail. Image courtesy of Shelley Mullen-Sapper

Shelley Mullen-Sapper is a relatively new deer hunter, having started in 2019, but the Iowa resident understands what her home state has to offer in the way of big bucks. This past season, she and her husband, Roger Sapper, were after a massive 188-inch buck and in mid-October, they got their chance at him.

The couple first started seeing the deer in 2021 when it was 3 ½ years old, and they kept tabs on it throughout 2022. Last fall, with the buck being 5 ½ years old, they decided to hunt it. They had some close calls early on, during archery season, and even had the buck at 80 yards at one point. While he wasn’t coming close enough for a bow shot, the deer seemed to be on a regular pattern. So, Shelley got an early muzzleloader tag.

October 18, 2023, was the day she finally connected on the buck. Temperatures were in the high 50s. Shelley and Roger were perched in a Redneck blind that overlooked a soybean bottom. Hardwood ridges ran to the south. CRP grasses waved in the wind to the north, east, and west.

The afternoon hunt started slowly. A few does filtered into the field, and then a smaller buck. Thirty minutes later, about a half hour before dark, the big buck stepped out.

“We knew where the buck had been bedding, and kept watching that direction,” Shelley said. “We were glassing, and both spotted the buck at the same time.”

Image: ImageBy_Shelley_Mullen_Sapper_rack_3

The buck was an 8-pointer when he was younger, but grew multiple kickers as he matured. Images courtesy of Shelley Mullen-Sapper

It took about 10 minutes for the deer to walk up the hill. “We lost him in the CRP grass as he was coming in,” Roger said. “At one time, we thought he was going the other way. When he crossed the creek, he had to turn southeast to bypass some brush. But he turned and walked right into the beans.”

After minutes of watching the deer slowly inch closer, they ranged the buck at 110 yards. He turned broadside, and Shelley settled in for the shot. She put the crosshairs on the vitals, pulled the trigger, and the bullet smacked the buck in the shoulder. The deer ran about 25 yards, and toppled over.

“It was a very exciting hunt,” Shelley said. “I told my husband, ‘all I want is to shoot a Booner.’ Because we’ve joked no more deer are going on the walls unless it’s a Booner. So, it was a very special day to me.”

At 188 inches, this buck was definitely big enough for the taxidermist.


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