Recognize the picture above? There’s a good chance you saw it circulate your newsfeed a time or two this past fall. The giant Iowa whitetail was downed by 18-year old Austin Pontier on November 6th, and the pictures had many believing it could be the new world record typical whitetail. Here is the story from the hunter himself…
Written By: Austin Pontier | IA Hunter
At a young age, probably 7 or 8 is when I was first introduced to hunting. I can distinctly remember following my dad into the timber during the cold Iowa shotgun season. No matter the conditions I always wanted to go with. I enjoyed sitting in the stand with him and getting to see all the different animals in their natural habitat. That right there is what hooked me to the outdoors. As a kid I was never really fascinated with video games or staying indoors, I was more the type to be outside messing around in the creek in my backyard.
Austin holding the rack of “OG” – a giant typical whitetail. KAYLA PONTIER PHOTOGRAPHY
At the age of 11 is when I killed my first deer with my dad. It was really nothing to brag about, just a small 7-point, but it meant the world to me. As I got older, I began to hunt just about every animal here in Iowa. On weekends during the fall and winter you could find me in the timber or a field chasing small game and upland birds. Then when spring came around I was in the woods hunting turkeys.
As July approached in 2016 I started hanging trail cameras to see what bucks had made it through the winter and spring. I had also begun to scout new areas of the farm to hang new treestands. As bow season approached I had a solid number of mature deer on my hit list. The buck I ended up harvesting in November didn’t show up on trail camera until September. I was shocked when the picture first popped up the computer screen – I didn’t know what to think of the buck. I ended up naming him “OG” after the Ohio Giant which was also a big 7×7 that was hit by a car a few years ago. I had no clue where this buck came from because I had never seen or gotten a picture of him in the past. My guess is he had a different summer range and had just split off with his bachelor group when I got the first picture of him.
Here’s a picture of the Giant Ohio Buck that was killed by a car a few years ago – easy to see the similarities to the one Austin shot below.
Trail cam pic of “OG” during the night before Halloween
As October approached it was abnormally warm for that time of year. It seemed like none of the bucks moved during the day. As October passed, I continued to get pictures of OG, but only at night, so I stayed out of that area of the farm until it cooled down and the bucks were moving more during daylight hours.
On November 6th, 2016, the wind was finally right and I was able to hunt the area of the farm where I had been getting pictures of OG just a few days prior. I knew if I was going to get a shot at him this was going to be the day it would happen. I crawled up into the stand around noon that day and prepared to sit until dusk. The afternoon went by and I had only seen a few small bucks cross in front of me. This really surprised me because this was historically one of the best stands on the farm. I was tucked back into the timber overlooking a secluded finger of beans that jotted into the woods.
Finally, with about an hour of shooting light left I had six does come into the field to feed. I decided at that time to rattle and do some grunting to see if I could lure any bucks out of the timber. Shortly after doing that I had a small six point come out and walk right under my stand to see where the commotion was coming from. I watched him for a few minutes then happened to glance up and look to my right where I caught a glimpse of an enormous buck standing on the edge of a cedar thicket scanning the field. I knew right away that it was OG.
Austin holds the rack of “OG” in front of the treestand he landed the fateful shot from. KAYLA PONTIER PHOTOGRAPHY
I didn’t need to count any points to see if it was really him. As he stood on the edge of the thicket about 80 yards away I knew that this was my chance, and I could not screw it up. He stood there for a few minutes staring across the field to the other side. I looked over to where he was looking and saw another hit list buck of mine – Lucky Number 9. As the two giants stared each other down, the small 6-pointer worked his way back into the timber not wanting anything to do with what was about to go down. OG and Lucky Number 9 started making their way across the field to square off right in front of my stand!
The buck scored a massive 202 3/8 gross inches, 194 1/8 net inches
As the two came near all I could feel was the steadily growing heartbeat in my chest. When OG approached the 20-yard mark I sent an arrow flying. I heard a big smack and knew I had smoked him. Lucky Number 9 and the six does took off running while OG stopped after running for 30 yards and folded. That’s when all the adrenaline hit me and I couldn’t put together what just happened. As I crawled out of my stand and finally put my hands on my top hit list buck, the thought of all the hard work and dedication I put in came across my mind. I truly know that it’s not always luck that people have when they kill a deer of this caliber. It’s the time, work, and ability to outsmart them. That night I killed OG I had a feeling I was going to see him. I knew with the right wind and bucks on their feet checking does that I had a chance at him.
The final mount of “OG”. KAYLA PONTIER PHOTOGRAPHY
It was a truly life changing experience for me to take this big of a buck. I realize that it is probably a once in a lifetime thing to take a 202 inch gross typical buck, but it will never affect me killing a lower scoring mature buck – they’re all trophy’s to me. The meat is just as much a trophy as the antlers, as well, you can’t go wrong with a smoked venison loin wrapped in bacon injected with butter and garlic!
I know with good herd management and proper nutrition it helps bucks like this reach their potential. So my plan as a hunter is to keep doing what I love and enjoy every bit of it. As I reflect, I am reminded that I was lucky to be introduced to hunting at such a young age. I have my dad, brother, uncle, and cousins to thank for that. With them introducing me to hunting I have felt obligated to introduce other young kids that don’t have family to take them hunting. I have thoroughly enjoyed taking them the past few years youth deer and turkey season. Sharing the knowledge I have with them and watching them get addicted to the same thing I enjoy, is truly a great feeling.