Orlando Vivone’s Iowa whitetail exhibits incredible character
Hunter: Orlando M. Vivone IV
Buck Score: 195 1/8 inches
Date of Harvest: October 17, 2022
Location of Harvest: Madison County, Iowa
Weapon of Harvest: Mission Crossbow Dagger
Orlando Vivone loves deer hunting as much or more as the next guy, and last season, he had the chance to hunt a buck he aged to be 5 ½ to 6 ½ years old. Even better, it sported a huge, unique rack. His journey didn’t start there, though.
He started out hunting waterfowl and upland birds. Then, in 2017, deer hunting called his name. That year, he filled a doe tag, and he was hooked. In 2018, he shot his first buck. A year later, in 2019, he started bowhunting. He filled several tags. In 2021, he arrowed his first mature buck, and it came on public land.
Skip ahead to 2022. He knew of a big deer living in the area. He had access to multiple properties. Unfortunately, his target buck, “Freak Nasty,” disappeared from one of these right before deer season opened.
On October 17, 2022, everything aligned, even though he didn’t expect it to. He decided to hunt a property somewhat close to where Freak Nasty spent the summer. The weather was one of the coldest days of the season. Due to the cold front, he decided to go and see what happened.
His treestand was in a great spot. To his left, deer funneled down off a hilltop ridge line. To the right, deer moved off into the bottoms toward the creek and destination ag fields, including soybeans and corn. And to his rear is a large timber block full of dense bedding cover.
His friend, Tyrell, came hunting with him, but went to a stand location several hundred yards away. “As he was walking to the stand, I decided to pull a card from one of my trail cameras that was next to the stand I was in,” Vivone said. “He texted me about 10 minutes later asking if I meant to put him in the better stand.”
“What do you mean?” Vivone texted back.
“That stand you are in doesn’t look like it’s in the best spot, and this one’s in the honey hole,” Tyrell responded.
Vivone continued to scroll through trail camera photos. Unfortunately, a buck hadn’t walked past it in over a month and a half. His hope waned a bit.
Eventually, two mature does entered the open. Unfortunately, they caught Vivone’s wind, ran back into the timber, and started making a ruckus. After a while, a spike and a couple other small bucks walked into the field.
A few more minutes past before a couple of nice bucks stepped into the open and walked down the hill. Unfortunately, they stayed out about 100 yards and walked on down into the standing cornfield. More bucks and does followed suit.
“All night, I watched different bucks run down the ridge to the corn,” Vivone said. “It started getting closer to sunset, and I was telling myself I needed to move closer to that funnel where they kept going to. But I needed to wait until dark before I moved the stand.”
Around 6:45 p.m., a small basket-rack buck walked out of the thick timber behind Vivone. It jumped the fence and walked into the open. Vivone ranged the buck just in case a doe or big buck followed suit.
Incredibly, the young buck looked behind him, and it was the massive non-typical. Because of the thick cover, Vivone still didn’t realize what buck it was. “All I could see was his body, and boy was he big,” Vivone said. “Then, I noticed a drop tine. I tried to collect myself because I was shaking like a leaf.”
The buck jumped the fence and walked over to a scrape. It walked broadside 22 yards away, and Vivone settled his crossbow scope on the vitals. He stopped the deer with a soft, “meh” and launched the arrow. It struck the heart and lung region, and the buck took off up the hill. It disappeared inside the timber.
“I just smoked a drop tine!” Vivone texted Tyrell.
About 30 minutes later, they went to the point of impact and found blood instantly. They followed it up the hill. When they reached the spot where the buck entered the woods, they found him.
“We shined the light over to see the buck and the drop tine,” Vivone said. “I picked up the rack and I noticed it was Freak Nasty himself. I couldn’t believe it. I was in shock and disbelief because I was after this buck all summer long. Come to find out, he traveled over a mile away from summertime bedding to his fall home. I had faith that God would bless me with a great one, and He did.”
The non-typical scored 195 1/8 inches.
Whitetail Lab: Big Buck Tactics
Vivone largely attributes his success to reading the wind. Understanding how deer use the wind to their advantage, and how to use that the hunter’s advantage, can make a significant difference in effectiveness.
Additionally, Vivone studied the trail camera photos of each of his target bucks. “I wrote down the shooter bucks that came in during daylight at killable times,” Vivone said. He even noted the exact times, approach and departure directions, wind directions at each occurrence, and more. Then, he only hunted on days where the conditions matched daylight trail cam photo appearances.
“The Reveal Tactacams are great tools,” Vivone said. “Getting some pictures of this guy was great, even though he disappeared right before season started. I’m guessing that’s when he went to the other property I had access to and made that his fall home.”
Another tactic Vivone used was app help. He used onX and DeerCast to help plan the hunt. He also used these to select trail camera and treestand locations.
“This deer means the absolute world to me,” Vivone said. “I busted my tail this entire summer and fall for this buck. The endless hours I put in scouting and the boots on the ground and everything else finally paid off. It just goes to show you will get what you want if you’re willing to put in the hard work for it. I can’t thank God enough for blessing me with such an amazing animal but also for the landowner for letting me hunt his beautiful piece of land.”