Foot-Long Tines: An Iowa Monster Buck That Was Worth Three Years of Only Does

Twenty-seven-year-old Nick Long of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has killed several does since he took up bowhunting three years ago, but he wanted his first archery buck to be a bruiser. His patience--along with an aggressive game plan to use climbing stands to take the hunt straight to the deer--paid off when this 180-class monster with foot-long tines chased a doe past his stand Nov. 5.
Long was hunting with his father, Gary, on land in southeastern Iowa that belongs to a friend. It's their second year on the parcel, which includes two patches of timber running east to west interspersed with alfalfa fields. After two sits in a wooded corner where both filled tags last year, Gary Long noticed that deer were moving through the fields. "The pre-rut was on, and those bucks were cruising out in the wide-open alfalfa," Nick says. "I'd never seen them running so freely like that. They didn't seem to care they were running right in the middle of the fields."
The two decided to move closer the next day. "For the last two years we've been using climbers," says Nick. "It's great to be able to walk in and if you see a deer you can adjust yourself to where they're running. So that's what we did."
Gary had been careful to mark the deer's movements in relation to suitable stand trees, so the next afternoon the duo had a head start on finding a place to fasten their climbers. They picked out trees about 150 yards apart and settled in to hunt.
A half-hour before dark, deer began showing up near Nick's stand--first a spike, then an 8-pointer, and next a doe. "I heard a commotion and here comes a doe storming through the edge of the timber right toward me," Nick says. "And following right behind her is a big buck, grunting all the way."
"The doe went past my stand and he stopped about 18 yards away, quartering slightly away. He started to walk on and I made a clicking sound with my mouth. As soon as he stopped I let the arrow fly."
In three years of bowhunting, Nick passed on lots of younger, smaller bucks, including a 9-pointer last year. "It has definitely been a struggle to stay patient," he says. "I even drew back on the 9, but I decided that just wasn't what I wanted to do. I do get an itchy finger sometimes, but when that happens I shoot a doe."
When the moment he had a shooter in his sights finally arrived, Nick thought of his father's advice. "He always taught me not to look at the rack, because the adrenaline gets pumping and you're focused on the rack when you should be focused on the shot," Nick says. "So I didn't look at the rack, and after the shot I didn't even know how many points he had. I just knew he was a good buck."
Gary took up bowhunting in the late 1970s. "I didn't know anyone who did it, and there wasn't all the information and equipment there is today," he says. He has passed on all the things he had to teach himself, and he says Nick has been a good student. "He has learned, he's put in his time and worked hard at it," Gary says. "He's paid his dues, so it was great to see him get this buck. When he shot that deer, that was the best of hunting day in my life, to see him get that." But Gary says he's also learned from Nick. "I'm kind of old school, but Nick has got me shooting the expandable broadheads and practicing longer shots at the archery range." That practice paid off when Gary arrowed this buck (an 11-pointer taken on 11/11/11) at 45 yards, just 400 yards from where Nick took his buck.
"I couldn't wait for my dad to see the deer," Nick says. "He's been bowhunting for 30 years, and I always watched him as a kid. He got me into gun-hunting first, but once I found out about bows, gun season isn't nearly as appealing. I like the thrill of the hunt. You've got to do everything right to get those big bucks. Every little thing counts."
The buck made it only 50 yards before crashing down a ravine into a creek bed. Before Nick even climbed down from his stand, he could see the buck was down for good, and he called his dad to share the good news. Gary climbed down straightaway to join his son. "It was one of those moments where you are so proud," Nick says. "He was really proud too. He said, 'Great job man.' I think he was stunned, because he had no idea I'd shot a buck that big. And neither did I."
Big he is, by any measure. A green score (an official score will follow after the 60-day drying period) tallied a gross measurement of 183 7/8 nontypical. Four of the buck's 13 points are a foot long or better. The largest stretches nearly 15 inches. "I've never seen a buck with tines that long," Nick says. "His spread wasn't all that impressive, but he's got a lot of height."
A close-up of a hoof offers further evidence of the buck's heft. "He must have left a track as big as a cow," Nick says. "He weighed 205 pounds field dressed."
Says Gary, "He's just a well-fed Iowa deer that had the good genes to grow the big rack, the big body and the big neck. With that swollen neck he's going to make a beautiful mount."
Nick's giant continues a family tradition of hunting that dates back to the early days of Iowa's modern deer season. As a boy, Gary hunted the state's recovering deer herd under the tutelage of his dad and uncles. Now, Gary and his two brothers are cast in the role of proud mentors. "They're all super excited for me," Nick says. "They've got some nice racks on the wall, but nothing like this. I think my buck just took the family record."

Twenty-seven-year-old Nick Long of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has killed several does since he took up bowhunting three years ago, but he wanted his first archery buck to be a bruiser. His patience--along with an aggressive game plan to use climbing stands to take the hunt straight to the deer--paid off when this 180-class monster with foot-long tines chased a doe past his stand Nov. 5.