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Iowa Outfitters

Iowa Outfitters
Part 2
I don’t profess to know everything about whitetail deer hunting , nor will I ever. However I feel I have matured as a whitetail deer hunter, having been involved with the sport of deerhunting for the past 18 years. As a result I have been fortunate to being exposes to locations that are reknown for whitetail deerhunting. Places like Buffalo County Wisconsin, Pike County Illinois, Butler County Kansas, Shelby County Missouri, and many others. As an Iowa Outfitter for deer I still recall the first time I ever set my feet on Zone 5 of Iowa. A brief synopsis of IMB Outfitters is that the business was originally named Illinois Monster Bucks. When our company began to branch out into other States we were forced to change our name to IMB Outfitters or risk confusing hunters who were seeking hunts outside of Pike County, Illinois.
After setting up a successful outfitting service for whitetail deer in Pike County, Illinois we next setup a second location in North Central, Missouri that is a powerhouse. In fact in recent years we have seen our location in Missouri out perform Pike County, Illinois on many occasions.
After securing the Missouri outfitter division of IMB Outfitters I began to long to become an Iowa Outfitters for deer in 2002. I had heard that Iowa was awesome for whitetail hunting but never thought any location could be much better than any other place I had visited or outfitted. Initially to become a Iowa Outfitters I broke out the Pope and Young and Boone and Crockett Record Books to study just where the biggest deer were being harvested. With ease I could plainly see Zone 5 of Iowa was the best Zone of all. By luck, a huge landowner in Iowa called me and ask me to setup a Iowa division of IMB Outfitters and become a Iowa Outfitters as well. This would make IMB a 3 State whitetail deer pursuit and give my clients a vast array of choices. Of course this was many years ago, as no IMB Outfitters is located 5 States. (Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas)
One thing I know is that a business can grow too fast, which is something I was concerned about, however I ventured to Iowa one late summer afternoon to spend a week nosing around some farms in search of verifying the quality of Iowa whitetail deer hunting. As I drove to Iowa, I became more and more interested or shall I say excited about the concept of becoming a Iowa Outfitters for deer as well. After checking in at the local hotel, I went over and introduced myself to the landowner and his wife. They didn’t know much about whitetail hunting but claimed they had a lot of deer and a lot of ground. After our initial meeting I was turned loose onto their farm for my evaluation, and perhaps to begin my destiny as an Iowa Outfitter.
I was accompanied by a friend of mine named Chris in 2002 for the venture of Iowa. Now Chris just loves deer hunting and was really “siked” about our chances at becoming an Iowa Outfitters. Believe me in 2002 Iowa Outfitters were not plentiful and the concept of being an Iowa Outfitters was a little foreign to the entire area. As we began to walk the ground out, let me tell you I had no clue what I was in for. IMB Outfitters has been in existence for 12 years, but after we began to win outdoor awards and land sponsors and jumped into the ring with the heavy weights of deer outfitters I will have to tell you in 2002, my attitude was one that was too prideful. In 2002 while I wasn’t a “snot”, I do believe I thought I had “seen it all” and was out to conquer the world or thought I already had. You know you just go through mental phases in life and to be quite frank I was a little “cocky” in 2002 with all the success we had been blessed with.
As my feet hit Iowa deer hunting ground, little did I know I was about to have a LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE. (LITERALLY) I also didn’t know that God was about to bless me as an Iowa Outfitter. The first patch of timber we walked out was phenomenal. I have never seen so many rubs on trees the size of telephone poles in my life. It was as if I was dreaming. I gotta stop and tell you that we have ground in Pike County, Illinois for deer hunting that literally borders the Drury Brothers. State of the art Pike County Illinois deer hunting land, however what I experienced in Iowa as a Iowa Outfitter made my best ground in Pike County Illinois look like a kinder garden class. I don’t mean we found a bunch of big rubs in the first tract of timber the size of telephone poles. I literally mean the entire patch of timber was littered with clusters of gigantic rubs that were nothing short of unbelievable. I thought to myself as a Iowa Outfitter, “How many big bucks could be in this tract of ground? How many bucks does it take to put this many big rubs on one tract of Iowa whitetail real estate?”
The next tract we raced to view was across the road as my Iowa Outfitters ventured continued in late 2002. I recall standing at a creek bed and looking down into it at a deer run in disbelief. I had never seen a deer run that large, that wide, that deep, I was dumbfounded. I looked over at Chris and said, “Hey Chris you gotta see this.” As I yelled it out I viewed Chris 75 yards South of me standing on the same creek bed, however he was on his knees. I yelled out to him, “Hey what are you doing on your knees?” Chris’s reply was “I’m not on my knees. I’m standing in a deer trail.” By the way Chris is over 6 feet tall.
There are moments in life that are upon their occurrence you are never the same person again. This was the moment I realized I had become cocky and thought I knew everything their was to know about whitetail hunting. (Late 2002) This was a moment where I literally had some type of spiritual awakening and without Chris knowing it whispered an apology to God at looked to the heavens. I WAS HUMBLED AS A HUMAN BEING AT THIS POINT, AND HAVE MADE IT A POINT TO REALIZE MY BLESSINGS ARE FROM GODS HANDS AND NOT MY OWN. I was about to become an Iowa Outfitter and little did I know we would lead the way among Iowa Outfitters in the future and present the best Iowa deerhunt available.
After I awoke from my stuper, I realized I was standing on whitetail ground that was better than anything I could imagine. As I began to look at different farms and lease them in my pursuit of becoming an Iowa Outfitters they were consistent in quality. I took several days picking the best farms and began approaching landowners. Of course in today’s commercialized hunt industry, it’s not that easy to lease Iowa whitetail deer hunting ground anymore. In 2009 just about every country boy that knows somebody who has a farm is attempting to become one of many Iowa Outfitters. I’m so glad we established our business in 2002 in Zone 5 of Iowa as an Iowa Outfitter. While I remain a bit bias it is my belief IMB Outfitters leads the way among all Iowa Outfitters for deer hunting. It has taken much dedication by many people working as a team to be able claim this, however Iowa deer hunting is phenomenal if you pick the right Iowa Outfitter, as there are many Iowa Outfitters to choose from who are poor selections.
During our first season in 2003 as one of the Iowa Outfitters we only hunted Iowa deer with gunhunters. That first season we had 3 Iowa deer on the ground in the first hour that were all over 170 inches. Several over 150 inches were taken on that Iowa deer hunt. Deer were coming back to our Iowa Outfitters lodge that literally were so big they looked as if they were not real. If you’ve ever seen a Boone and Crockett buck weighing 300 pounds field dressed, then you know what I’m talking about as I attempt to relay what Iowa deerhunts are like. Iowa deer hunting is nothing short of amazing.
Our 2nd year as one of the Iowa Outfitters we began running bow hunts in Iowa as well. Rut archery hunts yields success rates or shot opportunities of over 300%. Swear it. I don’t know how any archer could book an Iowa deer hunt with IMB Outfitters and not get a shot at a monster buck. Of course our gun season that year coughed up success rates way over 100% with Iowa Booners, or deer over 170 inches hitting the dirt as if commonplace. Now I was loving being an Iowa Outfitter.
Our 3rd year as one of the Iowa Outfitters we grew and built a better lodge. We also added more Iowa deer hunting land to enchance our Iowa deer hunts. That year presented us with an ice storm during gun season that would have shut down most any other deerhunt in any location. We still presented our Iowa deerhunters with success rates above 135%. While the percentage wasn’t as impressive as an Iowa Outfitter it was still staggering to be killing monster deer in high winds and falling ice.
Our 4th year as one of the Iowa Outfitters we added more ground and began to establish ourselves as “the” Iowa Outfitter separating ourselves from the rest of the pack that had begun to follow. That is a time period when other companies which I cannot name but you can see advertising in the back of most magazines your reading about whitetails started to copy cat our business. Suddenly a group of other outfitters began to present multiple hunts in the Midwest and built websites like ours. We even caught this select group stealing photos from our website and placing them on our website. Approaching our landowners. They would stop by our camps, and even on one occasion an owner of one of the premier Iowa Outfitters called my wife wanting to know how to do multiple State, IRS Tax Preparation. Now we were being pursued by other Iowa Outfitters, and it was becoming a trend. To tell you the truth I didn’t really care. I was flattered and hope they prosper. I wish them all luck. However, many of these copy cats Iowa Outfitters are not presenting a quality hunt despite what they may tell you on the phone. Remember Iowa deer hunting can be the best you’ve seen in your life and humble you as a human being or you can book with the wrong Iowa Outfitter and be exposed to a poor outing.
Our 5th year as one of the Iowa Outfitters our success rates for Iowa deer hunts soared at over 300%.
Our 6th year as one of the Iowa Outfitters was again phenomenal. Iowa archery hunts were in excess of 225% success rate, while our Iowa gun hunts were staggering as well.
So as we enter into 2009 as an Iowa Outfitter we prepare ourselves for what I think will be our best season ever. After intense scouting with trail cam, video cameras, and with the naked eye we are literally seeing more Iowa deer that exceed 170 inches than ever before. We have picked up some farms far better than the initial farms we maintained early on in our history as an Iowa Outfitter, while all the while employing a Quality Deer Management Program that has thrust our Iowa deerhunting into nothing short of powerhouse monster buck country. A mere week ago I watched a field in Iowa for trophy buck sightings. 13 different trophy bucks grazed the food plot with four of them exceeding 170 inches.
The worst and best thing about being an Iowa Outfitter is obtaining a deer tag for Iowa. Muzzleloader tags are easy to get and are applied for in late May via internet or telephone. A good Iowa Outfitter will help you through all tag obtainment processes. When firearms hunting deer in Iowa the hunter cannot use a rifle. You must use a shotgun or muzzleloader. The tag obtainment for Iowa firearms season is relatively simple. You enter a lottery system in late May just like all Iowa deer tags. Why some may tell stories about the difficulty of getting a firearms tag for Iowa deerhunting the truth is our hunters usually have a 85% chance of tag obtainment for gun hunting in Iowa for deer. Thus whether you hunt 1st Gun, 2nd Gun, or Late Muzzleloader for deer in Iowa your probably gonna get a tag. In the slim chance you don’t draw a tag you obtain a preference point which assures you will draw an Iowa deer tag the following year. When trying to get an Iowa deer tag you can put in as a group if more than one person wants to come Iowa deer hunting. Then the whole group is either given a tag or the whole group gets a preference point. When you apply in this manner you can be assured that some of you will not be left out with an Iowa deer tag.
The Iowa bow tags are the difficult tag to obtain. Literally you will not draw a non resident archery tag the first year. You will get a preference point. Normally you will get the Iowa archery tag on year two, and in the million to a one chance you do not get it, its guaranteed year three. I’ve only had one group of hunters as an Iowa Outfitter that didn’t get archery tags year two in all my years as an Iowa Outfitter.
You should book an Iowa deer hunt by first determining what Iowa Outfitter you wish to hunt with. After you make your selection and put a deposit down then move forward with tag obtainment. Each year I have many hunters that have done it backwards. They have obtained the Iowa deer tag first and then at the end of June are seeking their Iowa Outfitter of choice. This is the wrong approach, as the good Iowa Outfitters are already booked now your stuck with settling for some “redneck” operation that has room for you to attend an Iowa deer hunt. Never put the cart before the horse and get the Iowa deer tag before selecting your Iowa Outfitter. Booking agents make this mistake over and over. They will have their client get a tag and then go looking for an Iowa Outfitter. It’s a great way to end up on a bad hunt. Remember just because your deerhunting in Iowa doesn’t mean your going to have a great hunt. It is not enough to go hunt Iowa for deer. It is not enough to just pick the cheapest of the Iowa Outfitters. It is not enough to go hunt some public land tract for deer in Iowa. If you try and cut corners on your Iowa deer hunt you will quickly see I am telling you the truth and never really get to have a true Iowa whitetail experience. You’ll end up on some sub par hunt that leaves you scratching your head. Book with the best Iowa Outfitter and have a life changing experience. Also stick to Zone 5 of Iowa. Settle for nothing less. How many Louvenstein Bucks does Iowa have to produce to get the point across? How many entries does Zone 5 of Iowa have to put in the record books to demand your respect? Trust me on this one. When deer hunting in Iowa you want to hunt in Zone 5.
By the year 2009 dozens of Iowa Outfitters are now present and advertising with photos of big bucks and great intentions. How do you know who to choose as your Iowa Outfitter? It’s a process that is not easily figured out. I cannot give away my secrets for fear another Iowa Outfitter is reading this article. I can tell you some things to assist you when booking an Iowa deer hunt. Let me share a story. The other day I had a hunter call me about selecting an Iowa Outfitter. He told me he had it narrowed down to two Iowa Outfitters and that I was one of them. Since I had visited with this fellow before I simply ask him who the other Iowa Outfitter was he was considering. I then went and looked at the website of my competition. Normally what I find is some small redneck operation and its easy to spot them by the amount of quality and content on their website. Their a ton a Iowa Outfitters that are small mom and pop operations you need to stay away from unless you want to have a bad hunt. However this particular Iowa Outfitters website was pretty nice. A ton or artwork, endorsement by a hunt celebrity from television, good content, and to be quite honest I thought to myself, “Wow this website looks pretty good.” As I examined the website I began to pick apart the business and reveal to the hunter what he could expect. These are the things I cannot share due to the fact another Iowa Outfitter may be reading this article. However I’ll give you one example the hunter hadn’t spotted of low quality despite the great artwork and expensive hunt celebrity endorsement. When we examined the photo gallery of the opposing Iowa Outfitter their were only 26 photos of trophy bucks in the whole gallery. Keep reading. Of those 26 photos, only 12 were of different deer. Of the 12 different deer, only 6 of the deer were his hunter, as 6 of them were the Iowa Outfitters immediate family. So this wonderful Iowa Outfitter had 6 legit photos of trophy bucks in his whole photo gallery. This same Iowa Outfitter claims to have been in business over 7 years. Think about common sense for a minute. In a 7 year time span, only 6 legit photos were in the photo gallery. That tells me one of two things. #1. This Iowa Outfitter isn’t killing even one deer a year on average. #2. The Iowa Outfitter is too lazy to put photos in his gallery even if he is killing deer, which in turn normally implies the same degree of laziness will be injected into your iowa deer hunt.
You should book your Iowa deer hunt with IMB Outfitters for a host of reasons that nobody else can claim:
1. IMB Outfitters has been in operation for 13 years while the average Midwestern Whitetail Outfitter has been in business less than 4 years. Experience is a vital issue when your hunting deer in Iowa or anywhere else with an outfitter. If I think back to the early years in our business I often will laugh about how I was feeling my way around in the dark due to a lack of experience. Our hunts might have been a little cheaper but the quality of our hunts was far inferior at that time due to a lack of experience. 13 years is a long time to be outfitting whitetail hunts on a full time basis.
2. IMB Outfitters is ranked in the top 44 hunts in the entire world by Petersen’s Hunting and verified on our website with documentation. Try to find another Iowa Outfitter that is ranked at all. You can’t.
3. IMB Outfitters is sponsored by 36 major hunt companies in the hunt industry. This is important to note because companies like Mossy Oak, Thompson Center, Mathews Bows, Rage Broadheads, Husqvarna, as well as a host of others don’t sponsor whitetail outfitters for over 10 years if they are not credible, or are providing a poor service.
4. IMB Outfitters has been inducted into the Hall of Fame and it’s documented on our website at See if any other Iowa Outfitter has accomplished this feat.
Also you might want to check out the “Why Us” page of our website at for about two dozen other valid reasons as those that are aforementioned.

Darrin Bradley

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