Written By: Lyla Nennig | IA Deer Hunter
The story of “The Freak” began four years ago in Iowa when our trail cameras captured images of a giant three-year-old buck. We aptly named him due to his freakish genetics. Each year he would spend the summer on a very large farm 12 Miles south of our farm! Then eventually, he would arrive on our farm around mid-October and begin his pre-rut activities.
The Freak in 2015
The Freak was one amazingly tough buck throughout the years, for which I’m grateful because had he not been, he’d be hanging on someone else’s wall. The Freak was wounded as a four-year-old and a five-year-old, by two different neighbors while bow hunting. My husband passed him as a four-year-old and had a couple of encounters at five, but just couldn’t close the deal. The Freak was the only buck he was hunting that year.
On December 27, 2015 while heading to his stand for a late season bow hunt, he found the right side shed of The Freak. Needless to say, the hunt was over before it even began that evening. It’s likely the wounds The Freak suffered earlier in the season led him to shed early. Now, he was extremely run down weight wise and he appeared to be in very poor health. All we could hope for was that The Freak would make it through the winter.
Following the season, we entered the shed in the Iowa Deer Classic Monster Shed Contest. The right side shed scored 99 5/8 typical and broke the twenty-five-year-old Iowa record! The shed currently ranks 8th in the world for whitetails at this time.
Lyla showing off The Freak’s giant shed with “T-Bone”
As you can probably imagine my husband was very anxious for the 2016 bow season to arrive. It didn’t take long, and less than a week into the start of the 2016 season, he harvested a 5-year-old gross Booner. Now with our coveted landowner tag he was patiently waiting for The Freak to return. Each day that passed, he was convincing himself The Freak, didn’t make it through the previous winter. On October 21st, he “reluctantly” harvested another great gross Booner. He was convinced the Freak was no longer alive because he always returned earlier. Foooooolish man!!!
Dave Nennig with the first of two giant 2016 archery bucks.
Dave with “The Mighty Nine”, his second big buck of the 2016 Iowa archery season.
After we hunted our Wisconsin farm for three weeks, we returned home to our Iowa farm. Obviously, he couldn’t wait to collect all his camera cards, and wouldn’t you know it, the 2nd picture he viewed was The Freak! On November 2nd, The Freak had arrived and was on several cameras from that point on. My husband looked like he had just seen a ghost. For a second I almost felt bad for him, but that thought disappeared quickly. Now we were on equal ground.
We both realized The Freak would have to make it through the remainder of the early bow season, along with both gun seasons before we could both pursue him during the late muzzleloader season. He made it through! And the story of the hunt continues in The Freak: Part II.