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Grow and Harvest Trophy Bucks

The Deer Looked Straight Through Me

featuring Dan Gritzner of Manchester, Iowa | Mossy Oak Pro Staff manager for Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. 


I started wearing Mossy Oak almost as soon as Toxey Haas introduced it. When I hunted pheasants back in the 1970s, we wore Carhartt overalls, because those Carhartt overalls would turn briars and weeds. One of the most-significant hunts I’ve ever had was when Mossy Oak came out with the Treestand pattern. I do a lot of late-season bowhunting here in Iowa’s hardwood forests. One year I was sitting in my tree stand late in November, and our area didn’t have much snow cover. I had a buck walking straight toward my stand from a direction I hadn’t expected. As he came to me, he looked into the tree. I felt like his eyes were looking straight through me. 

I had seen this buck crossing a field 300- to 400-yards away from me where I was in the timber about 70-yards from the field’s edge. I rattled and grunted at the buck. This buck came across the field on a dead run, jumped the fence on the edge of the field and came storming into the wood lot.  I had pretty much decided not to take this buck, even though he was a 10 point, because he only would score in the high 120s on Pope & Young. That buck walked right to the base of my tree. Before I could draw, I heard something walking right behind me. I looked over my shoulder and saw a 9-point buck coming in, similar in antler size to the 10 pointer. 

Gritzner1_llWhen these two deer saw each other, they bristled-up, walked stiff-legged and aggressively postured toward each other. I thought for sure I was about to see a buck fight, but then they started walking in circles. I decided to take one of these two bucks. When the deer separated so I could get a clean shot at one of them, I aimed at the buck I thought was the 10 pointer. He only was 8-yards away from the base of the tree I was in, but I miscounted and shot the 9 pointer instead. The buck went over the ridge, after he took the arrow. I waited for 30 minutes before I decided to blood trail him. I thought I had heard him crash, but the weather was cold, wet and rainy, so I couldn’t be sure. However, I only went 70 yards before I found him. 

I took this buck with one of the old PSE Carroll Intruder bows that was sold through a PSE dealer. In those days, I made my own arrows with feathers instead of vanes. I didn’t have too-many problems with the rain soaking my fletchings, since I had a camo strap for my bow with cloth tied to it to wrap around my fletchings to keep them dry. When hunting in the snow, I’d put the fletchings in my pack and zip it up, so they would stay dry. If I saw or heard a deer coming, I could pull an arrow out of my pack, and my feather fletchings would be dry.  As better vanes and better arrows were made, I quit making my own arrows. Most bowhunters are reluctant to change, but I’ve learned with my PSE bows and all my equipment that newer and better archery equipment is being created every year. I’ve tried to incorporate the newer and better equipment whenever my pocketbook allows.

Tomorrow: Family Is What Hunting’s All About for Mossy Oak’s Dan Gritzner

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