SPERRY – Brandon Cummings and Bo Russell take their deer hunting seriously.
Graduates of Mediapolis High School drop trophy-sized deer every year in Des Moines County, whether it’s bow hunting or muzzleloading.
Whether it’s a beautiful fall day or a cold winter day, Cummings and Russell can most often be discovered in the woods in their spare time, looking for the next trophy.
So when the two longtime friends heard about the Quest Hunt Company contest, which includes states from across the country, they were all in on it.
It turned out to be an exciting challenge which paid off handsomely in the end.
Cummings and Russell, competing as “Team Blood Trail”, finished third in the Iowa portion of the event with 348 points.
For their efforts, Cummings and Russell were able to attend the banquet in Springfield, Missouri, where they each received a QuietKat electric hunting bike.
And all for something they like to do anyway.
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âIt was awesome. We had a lot of fun,â Cummings said. âWe got third place in the state of Iowa out of over 350 teams in the state. We were able to go to the Springfield banquet in March where they tagged everyone’s deer. There were tons of racks of deer from seven different states. It was great. We met other deer hunters and got advice from different people. It was a good time. “
” We had a great time. We had a great time, âsaid Russell. “We were only hunting the big deer so we decided to team up and enter the competition. We live side by side and have been friends for a long time so it went perfectly.”
Each team member was allowed to shoot one deer with a bow and another with a muzzleloader or shotgun. Three of the four deer have been tagged.
Russell got his first stag with a bow in October and Cummings left one with a bow as well, placing them in # 1 after bow hunting season.
But the team fell to 21st place after shotgun season, which they normally don’t participate in.
With the January 10 deadline for the mouth-loading portion of the contest, Team Blood Trail needed a huge amount of money.
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Neither Russell nor Cummings had seen such a deer on their surveillance cameras, but Cummings came out on January 8 and came across a huge deer.
âI shot him late that day and we waited until the next morning to go get him because we didn’t want to scare him,â Cummings said. “I don’t think I got an hour’s sleep that night. I was worried, but excited at the same time.”
âBrandon killed one last weekend, one he had never seen on camera,â Russell said. âHe called me excitedly and said, ‘I shot a giant.’ Brandon, me and Ben Thomson went out the next morning and it was a huge 201-202 big deer. That put us in the top two or three for big prizes. “
The real fun came in March when they went to Springfield, Missouri for the banquet. They turned more than a few heads when they entered with their trophy mounts.
âA lot of people were watching us,â Cummings said. “Iowa is known for its large white-tailed deer.”
âBrandon and I walked in with our deer and a lady at the table looked at us and said, ‘It must be Iowa coming in. “It was fun. We met a lot of good people and heard their stories.”
Cummings said he started hunting when he was 10, learning from Ben Thomson’s father Dan. Russell has said he has been bow hunting since he was a child.
âI like archery more than muzzle loading,â said Russell.
Ben Thomson and Ryan Egan took seventh place in the same competition in 2019, while Cody and Dustin Belknap finished seventh this year. All are from the Mediapolis region.
While Cummings and Russell did all the legwork, they couldn’t have done it without a little help.
âI can see a lot of interesting things in the woods. It’s great to be there. It’s so peaceful,â Cummings said. âWe are fortunate to be able to hunt here. I am very grateful to the landowners and farmers who let me hunt on their land. I’m very lucky to have people who let me do this.
âI really want to thank the farmers who let me hunt on their land. I am very grateful for that,â said Russell.