Big-Buck Friday: Iowa’s #1 Muzzleloader NT!

iowa doyle 2The Iowa DNR maintains an impressive record book of the biggest bucks shot in in the state with both bows and guns. The 244 6/8” giant that Kelly Doyl shot in Buchanan Co. in 2010 still ranks #1 in the muzzleloader non-typical category. This buck first appeared on the blog in March 2011:

Hi Mike: I enjoy watching your show and viewing your website. I especially enjoy seeing all the giant deer from around the country that end up on here.

In October of 2010, during the early muzzle loader season here in Iowa, I harvested a buck that has 27 scoreable points. After the 60-day drying period, it taped out at 249 5/8 gross. Its official net is 244 6/8.

At the end of February I took the deer to the Iowa Deer Classic in Des Moines. Out of 340 plus entries it was the highest scoring deer there. It took 1st in the non-typical muzzleloader division. It is truly the deer of my lifetime.

I think probably the biggest thrill that has come from this was the expressions on my grandchildren’s faces when they saw the deer for the first time. My grandson has nicknamed the deer “Big 27” and now he is raring to go. Santa Claus bought him his first BB gun and he loves to practice with it at Grandpa’s house. Once again keep up the great job on your show.–Sincerely, Kelly Doyl

Postscript: Since I first posted on this buck I have learned two things: The taxidermist believes the buck was only 4½ years old when Kelly shot it. And a landowner in the area found the buck’s sheds the previous winter; comparing the 2 sets of antlers it appears the monster put on some 50-60 inches of antler from 2009 to 2010! Not common but possible.

The more I learn about this great buck, the more intrigued I am with it. And I can’t wait to see it in person. I’m heading out to Iowa soon to film an episode of my TV show, and we’re shooting a segment w/Kelly. You’ll see it later this fall on Big Deer TV.

iowa doyle

Scent Control: How Many Showers Should Hunters Take?

scent showerTake a shower every day? Some doctors say we are overdoing it.

A Boston dermatologist says, “We over-bathe in this country.” She points out that showering too often can dry out and irritate skin, and wash away the good bacteria that naturally exist on your skin.

This article suggests that “while your activity level and climate will affect how often you’ll want shower, you can probably skip the daily shower and take one every two to three days… If you’re so inclined, you can clean the grossest parts of your body with a soapy washcloth or cleansing towelette to remove odor-causing bacteria on non-shower days (face, underarms, genitals, and rear end…)”

But even if you don’t shower every day, “you should put on clean undergarments each day; one study showed that we shed far more dirt and oil in our clothes than we do in the shower.”

How does this translate for deer hunters? Well, our “activity level and climate” dictate a daily shower with an odor-killing hair and body wash, but sometimes that is not possible in camp. When you can’t shower, the next best thing is to clean the “grossest parts of your body” every day with anti-odor field wipes.

The most useful piece of advice here is that even in a deer camp with no shower facilities, you should change underwear and base-layer tees daily. That is something many hunters, including me, neglect to do. But do it and we’ll feel better and stink less.

Back in the real world in everyday life, forget what you just read and take a shower every day. Don’t go all European on me.

How Long Do Deer Live In The Wild?

head bobIf you shoot a 4- or 5-year-old deer you’ve tagged an old one, right? Well, that deer would be considered mature, but it could have lived longer, possibly a lot longer.

In captivity, whitetail does have been documented to live 18 to 25 years, and bucks 14 years!

But what about the wild whitetails that we hunt? Well, individual animals live much longer than you think. Recent data from Pennsylvania confirms 3 does to be at least 13.5 years old! One ear-tagged doe showed up on a trail camera; another was shot by a hunter in muzzleloader season; and a third has been spotted in a person’s backyard. Biologists captured, tagged, recorded and released all three back into the wild in 2003.

That a doe could live to 13 or 14 with all the hunting pressure, coyotes, cars and tough winters in Pennsylvania is yet another testament as to how amazing whitetails are!

BTW, just like people, does (both captive and wild) have a longer average lifespan than the bucks.


Limb Lights: Find Your Tree Stand In The Dark

tree tackDuring the recent par 3 contest last week at Augusta during the Masters, I watched golfing legend Jack Nicklaus shoot an amazing hole in one. That reminded me of a true story that a legend in our bowhunting world, Gene Wensel, told me one time.

Many years ago, when Gene was hunting and guiding for whitetails out on the Milk River in Montana, he would occasionally host Jack Nicklaus for a week of bowhunting. One morning as they headed out Gene said proudly, “Jack, I’m taking you to a tree stand I hung stand myself. You’re gonna shoot a monster buck there this morning.”

They arrived early in the pre-dawn gloom. Gene snuck around but couldn’t find the stand. He told Jack to sit tight. Gene tromped around for another hour. “Jack turned off his flashlight and I couldn’t find him, either,” he said. By the time it got light enough to see the stand in the tree, Gene had run all the deer out of that section of woods along the river.

“Had I cat-eyed the trail to the tree, I would’ve saved the spot and saved me a lot of embarrassment,” said Gene. “Jack didn’t shoot a deer, but he took it pretty well.”

Gene said that since that day he uses tacks or limb wraps that reflect a flashlight beam. “Space them about 20 yards apart and at eye level all way to your stand. You’ll save yourself a lot of frustration and potential embarrassment.”


Travel John: Disposable Urinal For Hunters

travel johnIf you carry a pee bottle into your deer stand, there’s a less messy and more sanitary, albeit more expensive, way.

The Travel John features a unisex “spill guard” attached to a plastic bag that contains a fabric LIQSORB pouch. Pee into the bag and the polymer pouch immediately turns the urine into an odorless, biodegradable gel that won’t spill on your hands or clothes or in your daypack as you hike out. When you get home, simply throw the bag into the trash.

I tested several Travel Johns and they work as advertised. After peeing, I immediately turned each bag upside down, and not a drop spilled or leaked. Each bag is reusable. Depending on how much coffee you had that morning, you can get 2 or 3 pees per bag.

A box of 6 disposable urinals sells for $11.41 from Amazon. More than 300 reviews from Amazon customers give the Travel John 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I would use the Travel John if I still carried a pee bottle into my tree stand or blind…but I rarely do. Now, I look around to make sure no deer are coming, then let fly off a stand or out a ground blind’s window. Several of the country’s top deer biologists have convinced me that urine is 95% water and with little odor, depending on what you’ve eaten (confirmed by several medical encyclopedias). One scientist from Auburn University went as far as to say that human urine is actually a mammalian attractant. I do not pee to attract deer, but in my experience it does not spook them.

But the movement and noise of peeing might, and that is another reason to consider the Travel John. To urinate off a tree stand or from a fabric blind, you have to stand up, move, shuffle and let fly. Urine hitting the ground makes noise. With the Travel John men can urinate sitting down, greatly cutting down on noise and movement.

Come to think of it, I’ll carry some Travel John bags with me and use them on those brutal 10-hour sits in a blind in Saskatchewan this November. No doubt my cameraman and I make noise when we stand up 2 or 3 times a day to pee.

No doubt the best deer hunters I’ve hunted with over the years are split: some urinate right off their stands, while others would never do that.

What do you do?