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Jack Schuler’s Two Giant Non-Typicals
Jack Schuler has hunted the same farms in Iowa for years. Each bow season he looks forward to his weeklong vacation. 1995 brought with it even more anticipation than usual, however. While shotgun hunting the area during the previous year, a huge trophy buck had eluded his party.
On the afternoon of November 6 I got to the tree stand at 3:00. Sometimes you get to your tree stand just a minute too late and see a big buck running out when you go in. Well, this time it worked just the opposite. I had just gotten into my tree stand when I looked over my shoulder and saw a deer standing about 20 yards away. I could tell immediately that it was a very tall deer, but I couldn't tell if it was a buck or doe.
When the deer stepped out of the cover I could see a big rack. I never looked at his antlers again, but started to concentrate on the kill zone. He was broadside, but he quickly turned and came straight toward me. I had put out some Tink's # 69 Doe-In-Rut scent, and that must have attracted him. I didn't have my bow drawn, and now there was no way I could move. The buck was staring straight at me. Knowing that if he saw me move he would spook, I kept perfectly still with my bow limb across my face to break up my outline.
He knew something was wrong, but couldn't quite figure out what I was. My tree stand was in a clump of trees, and I'm sure that if I had been out in the open he would have spooked. After what seemed like a long time, (it probably wasn't) he turned around and began walking - quartering away from me. As soon as he looked away I drew my bow and aimed at his kill zone. He was still spooky and when I released the string he lunged forward.
He’d moved about eight to 10 inches by the time the arrow got to him. It buried a little over halfway up to the fletching - about eight inches below his backbone and near his last rib. Right away I saw blood. The buck ran only 20 yards and then began walking quickly out of sight. After carefully marking the spot where I last saw him I checked my watch. It was 3:15. I had been on stand for a total of 15 minutes!
Fog and mist were rolling in so I only waited 30 minutes before getting down to take a look for blood. I saw where the leaves had been scuffed and followed that trail until I saw a bunch of blood. I wasn't sure how good the hit had been, but now I knew it was probably a good one. I sat down right there and drank a can of pop. It was starting to drizzle harder and I could see that the blood on the ground was washing away. I knew I couldn’t wait any longer. I had to get on his trail.
Schuler followed the buck through the woods to a point where he had apparently run across an alfalfa field. The blood trail became very faint in the field, but using his bow and hat as markers, Jack was able to stay with it.
Once I got to a ditch on the other side of the field I found good blood again," said Schuler. "It was about 7:15 now and I was supposed to pick up my friend. I hung my hat on a twig to mark the last blood and went after him. I had been tracking with only a small Mag-Lite, and considered going back to the cabin for a lantern. After picking up Mark, we decided to get right on him instead. We got back on the blood and followed it onto a ridge in the CRP field.
What happened next left both Jack and Mark in a little shocked. The two men heard snorting coming from below, but Jack felt sure it was not the buck they were after. He only hoped it wouldn't spook and take his buck right out of the county.
Mark put his flashlight on the deer that was snorting and saw that it was a buck," Schuler said. "It wasn't the buck I’d shot so I went back to looking for blood. Mark kept his light on him. After a moment he said, 'The buck is coming at us!' The buck had his head down and was charging. Mark yelled, 'Here he comes!' We both started shouting and waving our arms to scare him off. I'm not sure what he thought we were, but he didn't want us around. He probably had a doe.
We went back to looking for blood but our lights just weren't cutting it. Finally, we decided to go back to the cabin for lanterns. Two other guys in our hunting party joined us. It was still drizzling so we got right back on the trail. We began searching at the last blood, and had soon followed the trail to a deep ditch. I said, 'He couldn't have gone down in there.' We split up to search for blood, and one of my friends went down in the ditch because he saw a hoof print in the dirt. Once in the bottom, he saw another track and then some blood. That's when he yelled at me. We started walking down the deep, narrow ditch in single file with my buddy in the lead. He was the first to spot the buck laying dead in front of us.
"When I saw him on the ground, he looked a lot bigger than I had thought," said Schuler. Though the buck was never weighed, he had a huge body making the job of getting him out of the ditch a real challenge.
Schuler's buck has an official Pope & Young score of 227 non-typical points, placing him fourth in Iowa's all-time record book. The rack has a net typical tally of 199 1/8 points as a 12 pointer, with nine abnormal points contributing 27 7/8 points to his final non-typical score.
One giant buck can be written off as a fluke, but two giant bucks means the bowhunter possesses a combination of good hunting strategy, a great hunting area and a good bit of luck. It was only two seasons before Jack found himself hunting another monster nontypical in a different part of the state.
"The first time I saw the buck was back in mid-November," said Schuler. "He was about 45 yards out from my stand and I could only watch as he went around. I hunted the stand several more times during the rut but never saw him again. When the gun season ended I hadn't heard of anybody taking a big nontypical so I figured he was still around.
The day after Christmas was 45 degrees and sunny - a great time to be out in the woods. Early in the afternoon I went to the same tree stand where I'd seen the buck in November. It's near a bedding area used by deer all year long, but it's especially good during the late season. The deer bed in a brushy draw in an otherwise fairly open grassy hillside. The draw faces south so it stays warm and is protected from the winds.
I was watching two does feeding and milling around about 200 yards away. All of a sudden one jerked her head up and started looking past me toward another draw. She was really alert so I figured there was something over that way that I couldn't see from my angle. Then I heard crashing in that direction and grabbed my bow. A small doe came running in and stopped right under my tree stand. I don't know where she went from there because my eyes locked on the buck that was following her. It was the same nontypical I'd seen in November.
He stopped at 15 yards and was staring straight at me," Jack continued. "He hadn't made me yet, so I just stood as still as I could with my bow in my hand. There was no way I could even think about drawing and shooting. I needed some luck.
"Right then a nice 10 pointer came walking down a ridge behind me," Jack continued. "All I moved were my eyes as I looked back and forth between the two bucks. The big nontypical never took his eyes off me. Finally, the 10 pointer started making more noise as he got closer until the nontypical couldn't resist turning to look at him.
Just as soon as he turned I pulled back and shot. I know I rushed the shot a little because of the tension and the fear that the big buck wouldn't stand still much longer. The hit looked bad to me - too far forward, like I'd hit the shoulder blade. When the buck turned and bolted the arrow was just dangling as if it had only gone in an inch or two.
The buck ran back the same way he'd come, up the side of a ridge and down into a ditch. I was sick and really cussing myself. How could I miss such an easy shot? I sat back down on the tree stand in disgust as I watched the buck slow to a walk at the bottom of the ditch. He crossed the ditch and started up the slope on the other side. That's when I lost sight of him. I couldn't have been madder at myself as I sat waiting to confirm what I already knew: the buck had gotten away.
Ten minutes later I was getting ready to climb down when I saw a flash of movement down in the ditch. I didn't know for sure what it was but suspected it was the buck still standing there. I sat back down to wait for another 30 minutes. This time when I got up to climb down I thought I could see a deer down in the ditch so I waited another 10 minutes.
When I finally climbed down I found the buck's running tracks but no blood. Following them I finally found a few specks of blood and thought to myself, 'This isn't enough to do anything.' As I started down into the ditch I found my arrow. The first 8 inches of it were broken off! I knew then that I'd gotten good penetration, and for the first time since releasing the string I had a little hope.
Now I was finding a lot of blood and kept tracking at a fast walk. On the other side of the ditch the blood trail went to the right, but I happened to look to the left and there lay the buck dead under a fallen tree. The buck had used his antlers to tear out branches so he could crawl under the tree.
The arrow had gotten plenty of penetration going through the back edge of the shoulder blade and passing through the top of the lungs before sticking in a rib on the other side. When he turned to run he sheared off the shaft and that's what I saw flopping.
After 60 days the antlers from the giant nontypical were taken to P & Y and B & C scorer, Kevin Freymiller of Des Moines for the official taping. Schuler's buck had 20 scorable points and racked up 204 P & Y inches with a 22 6/8 inch inside spread and lots of mass.
Few whitetail deer hunterswill ever see a Boone & Crockett nontypical. Yet, Jack Schuler has not only seen more than one, he tagged two during an amazing three-year run. For one man to pull off a feat like that, he must be doing something right. Jack spends a lot of time hunting and he’s a natural, self-taught woodsman. He doesn’t get bogged down in a lot of complicated strategies. Jack just finds a big buck and gets out and hunts him. There’s something to be said for letting your instincts take over.