Lights, Camera, Iowa
Watch as the longtime friends and ‘Hunting Ride or Dies’ set the stage and capture the scenes on a bucket list hunt in the Land of Biggins.
Iowa has a deep hold on passionate archers, considered to be the epitome of Midwestern Whitetail hunting. For non-residents, the thought of perching above a timbered draw in Iowa is a bucket list goal – and one that might take up to 5 years before you are welcomed into the magical whitetail haven.
During the 4 years of applying, a lot of life would happen for the Wisconsin native, Ryan Unger with graduation, jobs, marriage, and first-time homeownership all fighting for his time and attention. Applying alongside his good buddy who he considers his ‘Hunting Ride Or Die’, Dylan Lenz, would make the year's pass quicker and lighten the land preparation load needed on the beautiful Southeast Iowa ground they gained permission to.
|Over the years, Ryan Unger (left) & Dylan Lenz (right) have logged a lot of treestand time and alternate being behind the bow and behind the camera.|
The rolling hills held a mixture of habitat and were a completely blank canvas. The friends began strategizing years before finally drawing the golden ticket and started methodically attacking the work needed to lay a foundation of success in Iowa.
Close attention to the sign and trail cam photos began the scouting process while working untilled ground, planting numerous food plots, carefully choosing stand locations, and trimming shooting lanes would be the final touches the duo would make on their numerous trips 5 hours south.
With the stage set, the props needed included the all-new, Elite Omnia, some camera gear so that Dylan could capture the hunt and a few celebratory Bush Lattes—just in case.
Intel from the trail cameras was incredibly promising and anticipation mounted with each day approaching the October 1st opener. Several great bucks were frequenting the property, and often during the daylight.
The winds on opening morning allowed Ryan & Dylan an opportunity to sneak into one of the most active areas of the property. Just 5 minutes into the sit, they laid eyes on a mature buck with some unique character feeding towards them through the standing beans. Unfortunately, the buck never closed the distance, but the encounter made the boy's hearts pound; assuring them that their preparation was not in vain.
The following evening, Ryan & Dylan decided to get back into that same set, in hopes of running into the buck he'd seen the morning prior. Deer were on the hoof early that afternoon with several does meandering through the timber, browsing on leafy greens and acorns before they disappeared down the thick oak-covered ridge.
Putting On A Show
As the sun's golden hour put on a show all of its own, Ryan could hear more deer feeding towards the brushy transition area had hoped would offer a shot opportunity. A young buck appeared and fed right beneath his tree stand while the buck he was after emerged from the cover just moments later. At just 20 yards, the buck plucked acorns from an overhanging branch and raked his antlers through the limbs.
As he began to move towards the shooting lane, Ryan drew back and waited for the buck to step out. In no hurry, and certainly not concerned that Ryan was still at full draw, the buck took his time pausing to work a scrape. With his vitals still obstructed Ryan stayed held drawn back at a steep angle and tucked against the Omnia's solid back wall. The buck ripped through the dirt and put on an incredible heart-pounding display for the friends.
After a minute at full draw, Ryan’s subconscious & the Omnia takes over; allowing him to enter auto-piolet and shift complete focus to executing a well-timed, lethal shot. He settles his pin and lets an arrow rip, drilling like a laser through the buck's vitals – entering with the beautiful, crisp sounding ‘thwack’ all bowhunters love to hear.
A short, abundant blood trail led to Ryan's long-awaited, first Iowa whitetail. Fist bumps, grins, and cold beers followed for the longtime friends. Thanks to calculated preparation and confidence in his equipment Ryan was ready for anything Iowa threw at him, and a bucket list buck was in the back of the truck.
Sequel Coming Soon
Dylan and Ryan reverse the roles and trade places with Dylan behind the bow, and Ryan behind the camera later this November. Stay Tuned.