After months on stand, Mark Heck finally got his chance on this 198-inch Iowa monster during the late muzzleloader season
|Rack Report Details
|198 inches (green gross score)
|Time of Year:
|January 2, 2020
|Allamakee County, Iowa
|CVA muzzleloader Muzzleloader
When it comes to hunting pressure, many deer hunters believe quality of sits increases odds more than the quantity of outings. But Mark Heck of The Given Right sat 70 times last season before he killed the giant 5½-year-old Iowa buck he called DT (short for droptine). He also spent a good bit of time during the 2019 season to tag a 202-inch Minnesota giant, too.
I have lots of history with this deer, Heck says. I have trail camera pictures of him from the previous year, as well as many velvet and hard-horn pictures of him from this year.
Up until this season, the closest encounter Heck had with the buck came during the early bow season, but the deer never presented a shot. The next encounter came on the last day of Iowa's second shotgun season, just a few days before Christmas.
I was set up over a pasture where we had seen a bunch of deer come out a couple nights before, Heck says. Sure enough, he came out that night, but stayed out at 400 yards.
The deer fed in the open, but moved off into thick cover a few minutes later.
We used our Covert scouting cameras to figure out the area in which he was coming from and at what times he was hitting the food plots each night, Heck says. He was unpredictable as far as where he was coming out, but I had many daylight pictures of him in the weeks leading up to our final encounter. I had also scouted from afar to see where deer were coming from each night.
Temperatures were in the 30s on Jan. 2 - slightly warmer than Heck liked - but a stiff wind made the afternoon hunt chilly. He sat in an elevated blind on a corn plot. To his east was a pasture with a large section of woods, and wide-open crop fields dropped off to the south and west. It didn't take long for deer to start filtering through. Deer after deer made its way out into the open. Then some bucks started to show up.
One of the bucks was a deer I call Hitman, Heck says. Earlier in the season, he had broken off one side of his rack just past the brow tine. I started to get excited because Hitman and the deer I was after were often together.
The afternoon went on like that until sunlight started to fade. That's when things really got interesting. At about 4:45 p.m., Heck saw a group of bucks coming out of a draw behind him. One of them was a nice, young 10-pointer. The fourth buck that stepped out, the one sparring with the others, was the deer he was after.
It took a while for the bachelor group to work within range. The minutes ticked by as the deer alternated between sparring and browsing. But the buck didn't seem like he was coming any closer, so Heck decided to shoot the buck where he stood, at 246 yards. That's a poke for most muzzleloaders, but Heck was confident in his, a CVA Paramount. The buck turned broadside as he settled the crosshairs. He slowly squeezed the trigger and sent a round downrange. The buck ran a few yards and out of sight.
Heck and his cameraman, Tyler, went back to the room and gave the buck some time, and waited on some friends to join them. It didn't take long to find the buck.
It was a group effort trying to find, pattern, and set up our food plots in an attempt to shoot this deer, Heck says. [We were] whooping and hollering after we finally were able to put our hands on him.
Heck put in more than 70 sits throughout bow season, shotgun season, and late muzzleloader season, and it was all worth it. The rack rough-scored 198 inches.
This was the most frustrating deer I have ever hunted, but also the most rewarding, Heck says. The whole season seemed like a big game of chess with him always being a step ahead of me … This deer is a dream buck to me.
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