Clifford Martin and his Early Season Iowa Giant

By Alex Comstock 

Earlier this month Clifford Martin was able to put down an early season giant in Iowa and I wanted to get the scoop on the hunt. Clifford is one of those guys that always seems to harvest a mature buck with consistency. I wanted to get an idea of the story behind his buck, and how he was able to send an arrow through him in October. Read on for the story of his awesome buck!

Q: Was this a buck you had been watching for a number of years, or was he a new buck?

Clifford: He was a deer that has been on my farm for the last two years. He wasn't a regular on camera, but each year he was spending some time on a clover plot.

Q: Had you been running trail cameras in hopes of patterning this buck? Was he a buck you were expecting to see the night you ended up harvesting him?

Clifford: Yes, I was running a few cameras on this farm all year...and he was one of the shooters that I thought would possibly show that evening.


Q: Describe your setup the night of the hunt. What kind of area were you sitting? What was your reasoning for sitting where you sat? 

Clifford: With one of the first major cold fronts hitting Iowa that afternoon, I knew I had to hunt this food plot, but with no blind or stand setup to hunt this particular wind, I decided to hunt him from the ground on the east side of the clover plot. There were tall warm season grasses on the east side of the food plot allowing me to stay hidden until the shot. The reason I took the chance is I know my farm well and I know how deer use my food plot so I felt comfortable hunting him from the ground.

Q: Were there any particular weather conditions or anything like that which made you confident October 7th would be a good evening to hunt?

Clifford: The weather was perfect for getting the mature deer on their feet. We had warmer temps and rain earlier in the day and about 5:00 pm is when the temps started to drop and the barometric pressure was almost at 30. These were perfect ingredients to shoot an early season buck.

Q: Describe to the reader the events that occurred from the time you first saw the buck to when you released the arrow. Are there any details that stick out to you looking back on it now?

Clifford: I had two younger bucks sparring around in the food plot for close to an hour. I was actually surprised that there weren't any does in the food plot. With about 40 minutes of light left my buck walked into the food plot and starting sparring with the younger bucks. At that time he was roughly 60 yards away and I knew I needed him at 40 yards or under. After a few minutes of sparring, he walked out to about the center of the clover plot and starting feeding. At that point I got a few different ranges on him and he was exactly 40 yards. I waited for him to drop his head to eat and I came to full draw and sent the arrow home. He ran about 75 yards and tipped over. 


Q: Are there any lessons you've learned from this hunt or others in the early season that somebody could take with them when they're thinking about hunting early in the year?

Clifford: If your not targeting your shooter bucks in October your missing out, I have killed 5 of my bucks in early October, out of the 6 years I've lived in Iowa.