It started out pretty simple for Rachelle Hedrick, actually.
“Once Josh and I found out we drew tags, we drove out to Iowa at the end of July to scout a 700-acre property we were leasing from Paul Fountain,” Hedrick said. “We set up treestands and put out cameras. We started to get photos on three of our Spartan cameras immediately. But August 2 was the first day I got a photo of the "broken ear monster." My heart started pounding out of my chest. Throughout the next few months, I was getting frequent photos of him over two different scrapes, but all were nocturnal photos.”
The next couple months couldn’t pass soon enough. And once deer season arrived, Hedrick was ready. But that’s when things got a little more difficult.
“It was the fourth day of our hunt, and it had been pouring rain all night long (well into the morning),” Hedrick said. “So we opted to sleep in. It wasn't until about 10:30am that the rain tapered off into a light drizzle and we decided to head to our stands.”
Around 11:30am, Hedrick’s husband drove her onto the property they were hunting. Out of the three sets she’d set up, she decided to sit in the farthest set because that's where the most action was. But the truck didn't make it there. Instead of risking getting stuck, Hedrick walked.
Hedrick walked about 100 yards before jumping several does. Then she reached the treacherous creek crossing. The rushing water was well over her rubber boots, too deep to wade, and the banks were too far apart to jump across.
“Looking up and down stream, I tried multiple times in different areas to cross over, but only successfully slid down muddy banks,” Hedrick said. “Frustrated and soaked, I stared at the rushing water for a good three minutes, contemplating whether or not to take off my pants, boots and socks just to wade across. I was more than determined to get to that stand. But then, God spoke to me and told me He was creating obstacles to keep me from getting there. It was not where He wanted me. I instantly felt at peace with the unfortunate situation and decided to stay positive.”
Her only option was the easiest one — sit in her least favorite stand where she’d seen the least amount of movement. She crossed through an area of thick woods, snuck across an alfalfa field, and back into the woods again, only to come to another flooded creek.
“This time, a huge tree had fallen, providing a bridge which allowed me to walk across to the area where my stand was set up. Then I jumped a doe. I kept walking, but incredibly slow, just enough to make her curious. She eventually ran off, but luckily never blew at me. I eventually got to the bottom of my tree just before 1:00 p.m.
“Looking up, before I started to climb, I gave myself a pep talk,” Hedrick said. “I thanked the Lord for this opportunity and climbed into my stand. I took my good old time, screwing in my easy hangers, hanging my pack, pulling out everything I needed, not even paying attention to my surroundings.
Hedrick was hunting primarily farm land. Her stand was located in a timber finger surrounded with alfalfa fields to the left and right, cut corn in front, and a large bedding area behind her. The stand was hung in a silver maple.
“After settling in and finally knocking an arrow, I quietly sat still for a couple seconds and looked over at the bow,” Hedrick said. “There was my release. Looking down at my wrist, just as I had started to buckle my release, a giant-bodied buck walked under my stand directly in my line of sight. I quickly finished buckling the release, stood, grabbed my bow, came to full draw and grunted. The buck was walking straight away from me. I grunted again, louder. He never flinched and kept walking. At this point, he was 20 to 25 yards. Five more steps and I wouldn't have a shot. I centered my pin and shot. I quickly hung up my bow and grabbed the binos. I never took my eyes off of him and watched him expire 40 yards from my stand.
“Of all the paths this buck could have taken, I still can't wrap my head around the fact that he walked directly underneath me, facing forward, walking away from me,” Hedrick continued. “If he had been to my left, right or behind me, I may have never seen him. And because of his size, if I would have seen him coming, buck fever would have set in and I would've shaken like crazy. A 30-second difference in the events of that day could have messed up the entire placement of being at the right place at the right time. Not one single daylight pic of this monster and he walks right under my stand at 1:00 p.m. in the afternoon. There's just so many tiny details that only God could put into play.”
“When I first saw him, I didn't have time to count points or study his antlers,” Hedrick continued. “All I knew was, it was a giant body with a big-frame rack, so it had to be a mature deer. It happened so fast, I didn't have time to think and muscle memory just took over. It wasn't until after I shot that I asked myself if it was the broken-ear monster. I sat in my stand for a good 20 minutes before climbing down. When I saw his broken ear, I knew for sure it was him. God is good!”