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Hunkered down on a sun-baked hillside in southern Alberta, Canada, Mark had logged eight tense hours seated on the ground just a stone’s throw away from a mule deer of a lifetime. 

Mark traveled north for his 15th year of chasing muleys with Corey Jarvis of Three Rivers Adventures. Over that time, they’d seen mule deer numbers and quality decline with the liberalization of rifle permits in the province. Only in recent years have they tightened the distribution of firearm permits and the herd is responding in kind. By looking at the history of the population, Mark and Corey feel like they can see what the future holds for hunting…and things are looking good. Couple that forecasting ability with the tradition of giving crystal for the 15th anniversary and you have the makings for a Bow Madnessepisode titled “Crystal Ball.”   

Corey’s homework made it possible for him and Mark to get on this deer right away. They watched him from a distance the night before season began, allowing the guys to get on him at first light the following day as he crossed an alfalfa field. 

In the game of chasing mule deer with archery tackle, close isn’t good enough. Even though Mark and Corey were able to stalk to within 23 yards of the buck, the deer bedded down and disappeared in the foliage…for eight long hours. As the minutes ticked by, the mercury climbed into the 80s while the sun beat down from overhead…making Mark’s habit of packing sunscreen seem extremely reasonable. The heat wasn’t the only thing increasing during their standoff, the sheer discomfort of a full work day spent quietly on the ground only got worse as the day progressed. 

Eventually, something spooked a few nearby does causing them to bolt, which jumped the buck out of his bed. From a dead stop to a frantic rush, Mark raised his PSE Carbon Air Evolve and drew as the buck came running through one of his shooting lanes, then on into the thick silver bush where the deer paused. Only partially obscured, Mark and Corey could see the buck’s head shifting back and forth, trying to decide which direction to go, eventually opting to exit the silver bush into another shooting lane. 

At just over 30 yards, Mark settled a pin on the muley’s vitals and executed the shot. In that same moment, the buck took a step forward, pushing the arrow’s point of impact farther back than Mark intended. With daylight waning, they tracked the blood trail the Rage Chisel Tip inflicted and put a follow-up arrow into the buck. Choosing to play it safe, they backed out and waited until morning to resume the recovery. 

The next morning after an extensive tracking job, Mark finally laid hands on 190 and 3/8 inches of velvety Alberta mule deer antlers. It was a hard fought trophy made possible by the preparation of Corey, Tyler and Hunter Jarvis coupled with the grittiness of the guys to wait out this deer despite their discomfort.

As told to Tim Kjellesvik.