Little did 14-year old Dalton Christoffer, a freshman at Estherville Lincoln Central in northwest Iowa, know when he headed for northeast Iowa to participate in the youth dear season that a trophy buck just might be in the picture.
He was pretty sure that he’d have a chance at a nice buck. After all two years before, he had shot a nice 8-pointer in the same area, and since he began deer hunting at age 10, he’d shot a deer every year.
“We hunt near Yellow River Forest by Harper’s Ferry,” says Dalton. “We always hunt the same area. My grandpa Christopher (who lives near there and is a longtime deer hunter himself) had been scouting the area and had seen about a dozen bucks in the same area for the last couple of weeks.”
According to Dalton’s dad Andy (also a diehard deer hunter), the area was a prime one for deer. It included the traditional keys: woods, an adjacent alfalfa field and standing corn. Oh, and one more thing. “There is a spring-fed pond nearby, and it’s the only good water around. I think that is the real draw,” says Andy. “My dad warned us though that Dalton might have to take a shot of at least a hundred yards.”
To prepare for that distance, Andy had Dalton take his muzzleloader down to the Emmet County Izaak Walton League target area to get a good feel for a shot at that distance. “Dalton is a good shot, so I knew he could do it. He shot 20 rounds, and we felt pretty confident of his accuracy at 100 yards,” noted Andy. “We were pretty excited because in the group of bucks that Dad had been seeing he said there was one huge buck in particular.”
At the same time, grandpa Christoffer set up the ground blind the weekend before at the edge of the standing corn close to the area where the bucks had been feeding. His hope was to acclimate the deer to this new object by the time youth opener rolled around the next weekend.
For the hunt that would offer the chance at a trophy buck, Dalton and his dad set up in the ground blind late Saturday afternoon and started their watch. First came nice buck, a 9-pointer. “He was a nice one,” says Andy, “but a squirrel hunter fired two shots that spooked him away.” It was disappointing, but better things were to come.
So, they sat patiently until with less than an hour to go for the day, out came an enormous buck. “He was huge,” says Andy, “a 12-pointer. Definitely a bigger buck than either Dalton’s grandpa or I have ever shot.”
According to Dalton, the big buck first went down to the pond for a drink and then headed back toward the alfalfa. Andy was worried, because the big buck was jittery. Perhaps it was because of the earlier shots by the squirrel hunter or maybe he sensed their presence, but whatever it was, he would come no closer than 100 yards. “It was to the point that I was pretty sure that it was going to go back into the woods, so I told Dalton he’d better take his shot.”
Dalton took careful aim and squeezed the trigger. That’s all it took. One clean shot and Dalton had his 12-point buck, but just how big was it? Later it would score 184½ points to qualify as a Boone and Crocket trophy!
Not bad for a 14-year old hunter! Will there be a bigger one? “I don’t know,” Dalton says. “That’s a really big deer, but I hope so.” Both grandpa and dad hope so, too!