Kyle Schuchmann took this Whitetail Deer on Dec 8, 2004 in Northeastern Iowa. It scored 222 2/8 Net B&C.

December 08, 2004

Second Chance Pays Dividends

C.R. Hunter Scores Big on Chance Encounter with Buck
By Orlan Love, The Gazette

A buck of rare majesty fell victim last week to a stalk of uncommon determination by a hunter with exceptional luck and resourcefulness. “Every once in a while a person has a little luck, or happens to be in the right place at the right time. This time it happened to be me,” said Kyle Schuchmann, 35, of rural Cedar Rapids.

The massive nontypical antlers of Schuchmann’s buck will score well over 200 inches, likely putting the rack among the largest harvested this year in Iowa, the whitetail capital of the world. Schuchmann first saw the rack’s owner in November, when he photographed it with a digital camera at a location he will not disclose. In his haste and excitement to e-mail the photo to a friend, however, he accidentally deleted the image, leaving his memory as the only proof of the encounter. Until Dec. 8, that is – the last day of Iowa’s first shotgun season, when the monster buck again entered Schuchmann’s life.

Schuchmann was hunting alone from a tree stand at 8:30 a.m. when the buck, a doe and two lesser bucks — each with 150-inch antlers, by Schuchmann’s estimation — stepped from a timber into a harvested cornfield. The deer were 400 yards from Schuchmann and showing no inclination to move toward him. “I knew that was the deer I’d seen and that I needed to get within 150 yards of him before I could shoot,” he said.

So Schuchmann climbed down from the tree and began the daunting task of sneaking through open country toward four animals with keen senses and a keener suspicion of human interlopers. His only advantages, he said, were that the light wind was always in his face, carrying the dread scent of his breath and sweat away from his quarry, and that the bucks seemed preoccupied with the doe, even though the mating season had peaked, according to the calendar at least.

Schuchmann felt confident during the first half of his stalk — a 200-yard belly crawl in a grass waterway through the cornfield. When the waterway terminated in a harvested soybean field as devoid of cover as a parking lot, Schuchmann pondered how to cross it without spooking the deer. “The only way I could think to get across it was to try to look like a cow. I swear to God I thought that,” Schuchmann said.

The hunter slung his shotgun over his back, bent his 6-foot, 7-inch frame at the waist and let his arms dangle toward the ground like bovine forelegs as he crept across the field, pausing often as he supposed a grazing cow would. “They were watching me. I know they all saw me,” the hunter said. When the beanfield again dipped into a grass waterway, Schuchmann again dropped to his belly and crawled another 100 yards to a brushy fence line that gave him his hoped-for 100-yard vantage of the deer.

“I put the gun up on the fence to steady it, but I’m breathing hard, my heart’s pounding and I’ve got sweat running down my face from the exertion of the crawl,” he said. When Schuchmann found he could not hold his scope steady on the target, he lay down to rest. Before his body could recover enough for a steady shot, however, the big buck disappeared behind the hill on which it had been standing. Since the doe and the lesser bucks remained, Schuchmann correctly assumed the big buck would return, and when it did, he was ready.

Schuchmann fired and the buck disappeared. “I picked out one particular corn stalk where the buck was standing and kept it in sight as the point where I would begin looking for his blood trail,” said Schuchmann, who then sat down to wait 15 minutes before commencing the search. By the time he got halfway to his cornstalk, he could see the antlers above the vegetation. “The slug hit him in the spine, and he never took a step,” Schuchmann said.

Though Schuchmann is awed by his trophy — the 26-point rack has a 30-inch outside spread, a 27-inch inside spread and tines ranging from 10 to 16 inches long — he said he is still not sure he should have shot him. “Every hunter’s dream is to shoot a buck like that. It was my dream. But he was such a majestic animal, maybe I should have let him go,” Schuchmann said.

Details of the Hunt
Shot Distance: 100 Yards
Measured Score: 222 2/8 Net B&C
Size Of Animal: 26 Point Non-Typical
Hunting Method: Treestand/Spot and Stalk
Weapon Used: Tar-Hunt DSG 12 Gauge with Leupold 2x7x33 Vari X II
Ammunition Used: Winchester 2-3/4 inch Platinum Tip
Length Of Hunt: 5 Day Hunt – 1st Season Shotgun