Jesse Goodwin's 180 inch Monster Buck

Jesse Goodwin 180" Monster Buck
Jesse Godwin of Des Moines, Iowa harvests a 180" monster buck.

Jesse Godwin of Des Moines has been taking his bowhunting very seriously for about nine years and has been fortunate enough to take a 143’’ buck prior to this season, but this past November his life as a devoted autumn archer changed forever. While it is difficult to mix two passions of any kind, Jesse is also a devoted Hawkeye athletics fan. It doesn’t matter what sport it is, he loves watching the Hawks all year long!

“I Spend all my time hunting with my good friends Jake Lucas and Jason Cooper, These guys are really responsible for getting me in the woods,” He continued. “I’m not sure I’d hunt as often if I didn’t have friends to share the time with. These guys are as big of a part5 to this story as the deer himself.

Iowa monster buck

“I had just recently lost access to some private hunting land in southern Iowa, and I really wanted to find a place closer to home. Public hunting land was easy to find and this particular piece in Warren County seemed to have relatively low pressure,” Jesse said. “Having found this piece of land made hunting weekday nights easier, and just have me more time to sit in the tree stand.”

“We put up a few tree stands in early October and spent a considerable amount of time hunting them, but we just weren’t getting the deer close enough. So we decided to switch the tree stand locations to where we consistently were seeing lots of deer on the way out of the woods.”

“The area we wanted to get closer to was a hill side covered with scrub brush, no trees worth putting up a tree stand in. We elected to hunt the fringe and hope to catch the deer on their way out at night. I had a 10’ ladder stand and we decided to give it a shot and see what happened,” He said. “The first evening out, I had a 140 class 10 pointer show up and chase a doe through my shooting lanes. I would have instantly shot this deer, but he never offered a shot.” These three friends hunted extensively on this same piece of property seeing piles of deer each time out. That is exactly what kept them after it, even though they only had a few tree stands between them. As this story continued, Jake and Coop helped Jess remember every detail, as this was a perfect example of a group of devoted hunters keeping each other’s success a priority.

“We knew it was only a matter of time till we got the right deer in front of one of us. Then Jake killed a sweet 8 pointer in October, only adding fuel to our fire,” Jesse said. “November 3rd was supposed to be a perfect day, and was it ever! A crisp NW wind at 5 mph or less, I couldn’t have asked for better conditions!” Jesse continues.

Jesse Goodwin 180" Monster Buck

“The way this tree stand was set up provided me with some sweet cover. The deer wouldn’t be able to see me until they were in my shooting lane and it was too late. With the perfect wind and perfect set up, all that needed to happen was for a shooter buck to show up. I put out some Tink’s 69 and crawled up into my stand anticipating some incredible action. Before the sun was even up, I had a buck show up and scent checking for the Tink’s I had out. I couldn’t tell what he was, but he grunted and carelessly walked away.”

“As soon as the sun came up, I could see does all over the place. I knew it was only a matter of time before the bucks started showing up,” Jesse said. “About an hour and a half later I saw a perfect 10 pointer out on the hillside. He gave me a great show as he chased a particular doe all over the place grunting; he was relentless! He chased the doe out of sight and disappeared in the direction of their bedding area.”

“We had planned on getting down around 10 am and meeting back at the truck. Iowa was playing football and we didn’t want to miss the game! At about 9:30 I did some calling with the ‘Can’ and a grunt tube hoping to give any deer within earshot of me one last call for love.” “No immediate response, in fact, I sat there for 15 minutes getting anxious for the game. I had decided to put my gear in my pack and was considering climbing down. It was 9:43,” he recalled. “I remember specifically looking at my watch, making sure I wasn’t getting down too early. I was standing up in my stand just about to climb down, and all of the sudden I heard some loud crashing coming through the woods behind me. A doe burst into the scene right behind my stand, and behind her was a buck.”

“I could tell instantly he was a shooter as I could see lots points and a huge body. Immediately to my left was a large pine, and I figured this buck would either follow the doe into the timber, or stop right behind this tree. He did just as I thought and stopped behind the pine tree. For some reason, rather than chase the doe, he just walked up the timberline which was going to put him in my shooing lane with 20-25 yards,” Jesse continued. “I came to full draw and let out a ‘murp’ to stop him. I released the Easton arrow and watched it disappear into his side.”

“It happened so fast, I’m sure it was just seconds, but the whole event seemed surreal, it was like a dream, as soon as he disappeared I yelled out loud, ‘I JUST SHOT A MONSTER!’. As he was running off I realized how big this deer was! I thought I hit him a little low and a little back but wasn’t sure, so I decided to get down and meet up with Jake and discuss the whole thing.”

“Jake was in a tree stand 200 yards across the field and as he was coming out of the timber and walking across the cornfield, he was able to watch the whole thing unfold. I got down and headed out to the field,” Jesse said. “I came running out into the field pumping my first. I was still concerned I hit him too far back and my mind was really making me second guess my shot placement.”

Jake and Jesse met up with Coop, and right away he recommended that they should all look for the arrow. They had hopes of getting a better idea of how the shot looked and see if they could find any blood. They were back out to the timber in just about an hour and a half from when Jesse shot the deer with high hopes.

“Right away we found the arrow covered in dry blood and an easy to follow blood trail. Coop walked ahead of us, and kind of meandered off the blood trail. I wasn’t sure what to do, so Jake and I just followed the blood,” Jesse said.

“I knew with the way that arrow looked and the blood trail that the deer was dead not too far from where Jesse shot him,” Coop stated. “I walked out of sight, came to a fence and followed it for a short distance. Sure enough, there he was! I was so speechless that I couldn’t talk, so I tried to whistle and couldn’t do that either. So I started clapping that was the only thing I could think of to do.”

“I gave my hunting partners a big hug and was hooting’ and hollering’ like crazy,” Jesse said. “We knew it was big, but I had no idea how big this thing was. I thought it was 170 inches, maybe 180, but I wouldn’t know till we could put a tape on it. The shot ended up being perfect, right behind the shoulder, double lung. He didn’t go 80 yards! I was just second guessing myself because I didn’t see him go down,” Jesse continued. "The feeling I had when I first saw him on the ground was a huge relief! I was super happy to be able to share this experience with my friends,” Jesse said. “They made it more memorable than it would have been if I were by myself. What an unbelievable hunt!”

The time I got to spend interviewing these three hunters made me feel as if I were a part of the whole event. I can assure you, this deer might be the buck of a lifetime, but it won’t keep Jesse, Jason or Jake from hitting it harder next year. If nothing else, it only fueled their fire! What a testament to Iowa’s public hunting land. This deer is a giant anywhere in anyone’s book, but to come from a piece of public land only makes it that much more magnificent!