By Michael BodenchukEditor Note: When we received a report from long-time subscriber Butch Kuflak regarding his mule deer hunt on the Kaibab Plateau in Arizona, we asked correspondent Mike Bodenchuk, who is intimately familiar with that area, to look into it and add his insight.
Subscriber Butch Kuflak's report of taking a giant mulie really caught our attention here at The Hunting Report
. First, his 212-plus (green) mule deer
is impressive. Second, a mule deer of this caliber is as difficult to hunt today as any North American trophy. In fact, trophies of this caliber are so scarce that people spend a lifetime in great mule deer habitat and never see a 200-inch buck. Third, the few places that grow real trophy mule deer-the Kaibab, the Arizona Strip, the Paunsaugunt and the Henry Mountains-are steeped in history and are part of the folklore of American hunting.
The Kaibab is the high plateau on the north side of the Grand Canyon. President Theodore Roosevelt created the National Mule Deer Reserve here in 1906 and from then until 1923, deer were not hunted and predators were controlled. As a result, the deer herd exceeded its carrying capacity and eventually crashed, one of the great lessons in wildlife management. Before the herd crashed, however, great efforts were expended to save it. Novelist Zane Grey, who wrote several books about the Kaibab, even tried to save the deer herd by organizing a "mule deer drive" to try and push the deer across the Grand Canyon (it failed). From the start of hunting in 1924 through the crash in 1930-31, again in the 1950s and in the late 1960s through the early 1970s the Kaibab produced some truly giant mule deer bucks......