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Shoot everything that comes by

Iowa has a law unique to a few states that allows any person in a hunting party to shoot as many deer as the entire group has unused tags. If ten hunters each have a tag for a deer, each person can shoot one or one person can fill all ten tags. In the nature of hunting, the second scenario rarely happens. Our group came close once, but generally everyone gets some shooting and the actual harvest is spread out over several hunters.

The exception was when Jose hunted with us. He had never hunted with rules like this before and was convinced we were lying to him. We finally were able persuade him it was legal or at least if it was not legal, we would all be going to jail with him.

On our first drive of the season, he was on stand near the creek. I was one hill away unable to see, but clearly able to hear. Our drivers were walking across the neighbor's property, driving the deer out of his timber to ours. All the deer in the world concentrated on the creek where Jose stood.

From years of experience, we can tell when hearing a shot who did the shooting, where they are and what they are shooting at. A single shot is usually a clean kill. Three shot fired in rapid succession is a clean miss at a running deer. Three rapid shots followed by a pause and another three rapid shots is six misses at a big buck. A 20-gauge is not quite as loud as a twelve.

Damon and Amanda are the only ones that shoot 20's so we know where they are positioned. A 16-gauge is not as loud as a twelve and louder than a 20. Five or six shots from what sounds to be a 16-gauge means Tommy has missed something good. When I heard a barrage of shots from just over the hill to my right, I knew exactly where Jose was and what was going on.

Before Jose started shooting, I had heard a single shot from a 12-gauge. Doran or Dick had one deer down. I heard another single shot from a twenty. Since it was only one shot, either Damon or Amanda probably had a deer. Jose shot five times, paused briefly, and shot another five times. That did not sound good. We had ten tags in the group. If Jose hit everything he shot at, and I know he is a good shot, we were in trouble. It was possible, we could be two deer over our limit before lunch on opening day.

I stayed on my stand position, not shooting at the occasional deer that passed by. I knew not to move to check on Jose since the hunters coming toward me knew where I was supposed to be and would not shoot in that direction. I also knew I had better not shoot any more deer in case my calculations might be correct on how many deer we had down.

The drivers finally appeared and we all congregated on Jose's position. The meeting at the end of a drive is always the best part of the hunt. It is when everybody gets to hear what was seen, passed up, shot and missed by everybody else. We had told Jose to shoot everything that came by and he did his best. With ten shots, he dropped six deer. Damon had missed and Dick had one down about a half mile away. That was the good news. Nine tags and seven deer. We could still hunt the rest of the day if we were particular about our shots. The bad news was we had to help field dress the pile of deer we told Jose to shoot.

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.