Iowa Hunter Arrows 215-inch Drop-Tine Whitetail Deer

Sometimes, killing a giant whitetail is the result of looking at a property—even one you’ve hunted all your life—in a different light. That’s exactly what it took for Branden Michel to tag a 215-inch Iowa giant this fall. The 33-year-old Iowan has hunted his family’s farm since he was 16, and this fall, he was trying to figure out how a big buck was moving around the farm when he spotted a spot he’d always ruled out for a stand. . Of course, hanging a stand in that spot resulted in a trophy of a lifetime.

Michel took his first money camera photos last fall. “He showed up in the last week of October and activated two different cameras,” the hunter told F&S. “But I couldn’t make out anything about where he was coming from or going to.” While the Michel farm is large, most of the land is arable, with small wooden blocks serving as travel corridors. The combination can make modeling difficult on a mature deer.

But on Halloween morning, 2021, Michel received an important piece of information about the buck’s location when the monster passed a camera not far from one of his tree stands. Michel hunted the stand that afternoon and in the prime, he saw a small buck being pushed toward him. “Then I heard a deep snort behind them and I saw this big buck coming,” he said. “The big one came within 20 yards and stopped behind a patch of brush to watch the chase. I reached full draw and held forever; all he had to do was take two steps and I would have had a perfect shot. But when the little buck was able to follow them, the big one just turned and walked away. I actually came close to crying. I never thought I’d see money like that again.”

After that encounter, the giant buck disappeared again. Hunting pressure — especially during Iowa shotgun and pheasant season — on neighboring properties is intense, and Michel feared his encounter might be his last. Then a late winter shed hunt turned up a pleasant surprise. “I was walking on the farm and I had left a camera during the last week of January,” he said. “I took a picture of him that week and, of course, he disappeared again. But at least I knew he had survived the hunting season.”

Second chance at a monster whitetail

dollar trail camera photo
A camera photo of a big buck from last October. Brandon Michel

In the weeks leading up to this fall’s archery season, Michel and his father, who is also an avid bowhunter, were working on stands on their farm when the young man turned his attention to an area left behind the property – an abandoned farm that had been turned into pasture. “It really is a dumb place,” he laughed. “It’s only a quarter of a mile down the road and can be seen from there. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense that this could be where the big one traveled to our farm to avoid all the stands and most of our cameras. So we decided to put a stand in that place.”

On October 23, Michel left work and headed straight to the new stand about three hours before dark. Startled by the sudden sight of several coyotes howling and chasing prey in the pasture, Michel thought his hunt was over until he spotted a buck standing in a nearby waterway 100 yards away. “I knew right away he was a shooter, but I didn’t recognize him at the time,” he recalls. “He disappeared into the cornfield for a while, then came out to the edge of the wood and started rubbing some willows. I growled at him and I knew he heard it because he went crazy, rubbing even harder and snapping my head back, looking for the dollar he heard. When he turned his head, I directed the moan away from him and he decided to come looking for me.

The statement disappeared into cover as he approached, but when it reappeared he was already almost within bow range. It was then that Michel saw the body and horns of the small and distinct boy. “I thought Oh sh*t, it’s him“, he said. “But at that point, I was honestly as calm as I’ve been with any deer. I made the shot and I knew I had a good shot. And then he turned and ran and I could see the whole shelf. That’s when I broke up.”

How “Kick Stand” got its name.

photo of big iowa buck
The fall of money was so great that it held the stag’s head up like a stand. Brandon Michel

The atypical monster ran away, then turned and ran closer to Michel, and then fell onto the field. But before Michel could celebrate, the buck bounced back and tore into the standing cornfield. “He was knocking down three rows of corn as he ran,” Michel said. “And then I thought I heard him crash. I called my dad and my friends Derrick and Cody and they came out. We decided to give the buck 90 minutes, then followed the blood trail through the corn and found it on the rim. When I saw that shelf, I screamed and threw this light I had borrowed from my father into the air. It broke when it went down and I didn’t care.”

photo of Iowa big bucks
Brandon Michel

Michel had something to celebrate, all right. The massive statement earned 215-6/8 B&C, had 21 points scored, an inside reach of 18½ inches, and incredible mass that spreads across the rack, with no girth under 6 inches and some over 7. And, of course, a mass big falls the mortar that lifted his head up when Michel laid him on the ground. “That’s when we started calling him ‘The Kickstand Buck,'” he laughed. “Laying hands on it was something else. I work hard at bowhunting because it’s my passion, and this buck was more reward than I ever hoped for. People say ‘Well, you can quit now’, but that’s not happening. What they don’t get is that I’m going to hunt for a buck like this every year, but if I shoot a 130- or 140-inch buck, I won’t be disappointed at all.”

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