Bowhunter Takes a Leak from Stand, Smokes a Cigarette, Then Shoots Giant Buck

Big Game,White-Tailed Deer


Bowhunter Takes a Leak from Stand, Smokes a Cigarette, Then Shoots Giant Buck

Posted 2022-10-21T09:42:00Z  by  Josh Honeycutt

Laran Kaplan went hunting on a whim following an October cold front. He had no idea this 198-inch Iowa mystery buck would give him a 26-yard shot

Rack Report Details
Buck:198 inches (gross)
Time of Year:October 7, 2022
Place:Iowa County, Iowa
Weapon: Compound bow  Bowhunting 

Laran Kaplan shot this deer on October 7, 2022, but he didn't know the deer existed prior to the hunt. Image courtesy of Lauren Kaplan

Laran Kaplan didn't have any history with the big deer he shot this season. No trail camera photos, no knowledge the buck was even in the area. Kaplan has been hunting since he was 15 years old, but he's never seen anything remotely like the huge whitetail that crossed his path on October 7, a chilly day when he just decided to go out hunting.

It was the first cold front of the year, Kaplan said. It was 28 degrees out and I didn't want to go out and freeze my toes off, but I buttoned up and went anyway. I went with my cousin, Dean Shaull, just for fun because there was an empty stand in the timber that wasn't being hunted, and I wanted to go with him.

Kaplan's chosen hunting spot was in a finger of timber about 20 yards from the edge of a cornfield. He could see several trails from that spot and expected deer to use these lines of movement. As the world woke up around him, he watched and listened to all the birds, raccoons, squirrels, and other critters moving around the woods.

The first deer of the morning was a doe. After a while a few more does and a 6-pointer walked into view. Kaplan started to draw back on the 6-point buck, but a doe caught him moving, and he let back down. That group of deer slowly drifted away.

After hours and days of searching, Kaplan found his buck. Image courtesy of Laran Kaplan

About a half-hour later, Kaplan stood up to pee out of his treestand, and just as he did, a doe spooked. I looked over to the right of me and saw a doe that caught me, Kaplan said. When I finished up doing my business, I plopped down in my stand because I thought my hunt was over. So, I lit a cigarette to take the stress away from that doe.

When I turned to look at him, I saw his rack, put my cigarette out, and grabbed my bow. — Laran Kaplan

Several more minutes went by, and Kaplan texted Shaull about the hunt. While texting, he heard a commotion, and turned to see the giant buck rubbing a tree. It made the rub, and then ambled right toward Kaplan's stand location. I didn't even know where he came from, Kaplan said. I was too busy on my phone and smoking cigarettes. When I turned to look at him, I saw his rack, put my cigarette out, and grabbed my bow. He was clueless that I was there, and the buck fever set in. I was shaking so bad I thought I was going to fall out of the stand.

Seconds later, the deer turned broadside, and Kaplan drew back. He settled the pin and took the 26-yard shot. The buck ran down the hill and out of sight. He immediately called his father and Shaull, his cousin.

After climbing down, they met up and discussed the shot. It hit slightly back, and they feared a back-of-the-lung and/or liver hit.

He didn't bleed a lot, Kaplan said. We tracked him from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and called it quits after we lost blood. So, I let him lay overnight. I went home and had a sleepless night.

Iowa is the land of monster bucks. Image courtesy of Laran Kaplan

Thinking the deer might have traveled onto a neighboring property and wanting to exhaust all options, Kaplan called the neighbor who owned the land where he expected the buck to be. Fortunately, he got permission to walk a creek and check for the deer. With a full green light to search for the buck, Kaplan, his wife, and her friend loaded up and drove to continue the search.

When we got out there, I had this feeling to send the girls down the creek while I followed another bend in it, he said. It wasn't 15 minutes into the walk I heard them shouting.

We found him and he's huge! they yelled.

When I walked down to him, I was speechless, Kaplan said. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I waited for that moment to come, and I'm just blessed I was able to tag the biggest buck of my life.

Listen to Laran Kaplan's story in his own words on the Realtree Outpost Podcast.

Interestingly, Kaplan and his cousin had no previous encounters with the deer. It never appeared on any of their trail cameras. After talking with neighbors, none of them had history with the deer, either. It gross-scored 198 inches, and they believe the buck to be about 5 ½ years old.

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