Kyle Leonhard's three-year chase ended with the Iowa buck of a lifetime
|Rack Report Details|
|Buck:||191 1/8 inches|
|Time of Year:||November 2, 2021|
|Place:||Lee County, Iowa|
Kyle Leonhard climbed into his treestand on a clear and frosty morning in early November, hoping for a shot at a big buck he'd been chasing for three seasons. Even in Lee County, Iowa, 5 ½-year-old-plus bucks don't come easy. Leonhard first learned of the giant, which had a split G2 and G3 on the right side, in 2019, and he hunted him again in 2020. But he wasn't the only hunter after the deer.
There were four other neighbors who knew about this deer, Leonhard said. The buck was pressured quite a bit in the area, but it was a very frequent face on the farm I hunt. Despite the heavy hunting pressure, Leonhard was confident he'd eventually catch up to the huge whitetail.
The stage was set for the encounter on November 2. Leonhard slowly eased along a low-impact entry route to his stand set deep in the timber. He reached it without bumping deer, ascended the tree, and settled in.
Soon after getting his gear situated, he heard chasing going on around him. He couldn't tell what the deer were in the dark, but he hoped one of them was the giant. Maybe they'll come back after daylight, he thought.
As the sun rose, Leonhard carefully scanned the timber. He was set up overlooking a couple great trails, and he expected to see some cruising bucks. Soon, two does walked into the open. Then, five different bucks eased through the timber, disappearing as quietly as they'd appeared. After a while, two more does passed by his stand, followed by three more bucks. But Leonhard had his heart set on the monster that had eluded him for so long.
When it happened, it happened quickly. While Leonhard was glassing another big buck in the distance, he heard leaves rustling nearby. He slowly turned to look, and there the huge buck stood, only 25 yards away, directly behind the treestand.
Being 20 feet up the tree with good cover, he was able to slowly grab his bow, get into position, and come to full draw without the buck spotting him. The deer stopped to survey the scene, presenting Leonhard with a broadside, 17-yard opportunity. The hunter settled his pin and took the shot, and the arrow sailed right through the buck's vitals.
The deer bolted out of sight, breaking sticks, thrashing leaves, and kicking up debris as it went. Then, silence. Leonhard took that as a good sign, hoping the buck was down. An easy blood trail led him to the downed buck, just 80 yards away.
Word quickly spread that Leonhard had killed the deer, and congratulations poured in. Leonhard thanked plenty of people, especially those who helped him with the hunt. And he gave a special shout-out to his wife. (She took on) the extra load during bow season and allowed me to do what I love as much as possible, he said. This will be one I never forget. This is the first buck that I have set out to specifically hunt, and to get the job done is just incredible. It is a deer of a lifetime. The countless hours of preparation I put into going after this deer, from food plots to scouting, trail cams, and stand placements. Lots of respect for this animal.
It scored 191 1/8 inches, which is an incredible deer anywhere you go, even in Iowa.
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