Is this 12-year-old girl’s mule deer world record?

Not many pre-teen girls have killed a trophy mule deer, and even fewer have done so with archery equipment. But when that muley may be the largest velvet ever tagged by a female hunter, you’re entering some seriously rarefied air. Yet that’s exactly what Jaydee Houston did last month, when she made a 56-yard shot over a buck she and her father knew well.

Big typical muley with a gross score of 225 inches, with an unofficial net green score of 217. If that score holds, or even comes close to holding, Houston’s money will be the new velvet typical muley no. 2 Pope and Young Club. by any bowhunter, just behind the current world record in that category, a 218 5/8-inch giant taken by Bowdy Gardner in Utah in 2012. The next largest typical velvet in the P&Y book is 209 1/8. Her son also has to be the largest typical mule, velvet or antler deer ever taken by a female bowhunter – by a long shot. Because there is no specific category for female hunters, it will not be an official record. But anyone who wants to use the words “world record” to describe Houston’s money isn’t going to get an argument from us.

The story of this incredible mule deer began on November 21, 2021. Jeremy Houston, Jadee’s father, is an avid photographer of large mule deer and he met the buck that evening. “I was wandering around looking for some bucks to photograph and I saw a couple of these and a bigger buck with them,” he told F&S. “I raised my binoculars and observed one of the most beautiful features I had ever seen, and the largest amount I had seen that year. As a photographer specializing in mule deer, it was game on. Over the next few days, Jeremy “hunted” the buck with his camera and came up with some great photos and even a video of an epic fight scene with the big guy and another buck. “But I thought to be able to actually hunt this buck was just a dream come true,” he said, because the deer lived in one of the most difficult hunting units in Utah.

photo of large mule deer
Jeremy Houston took this photo of his daughter’s money in the fall of 2021. Jeremy Houston

But then, in May 2022, to the complete shock of the family, Jaydee’s mother, Holly, drew an archery tag for the premium unit. The family had planned all along that if Holly ever drew a tag before Jaydee turned 18, she would let Jaydee use it. The state of Utah has a hunt-mentor program that allows permit holders to share their permit with a youth hunter to give them an opportunity to hunt while in the field with the mentor. “To say Jaydee was driven would be an understatement,” said her father, who shares the full story of Jaydee’s hunt, in his own words, below.

Jaydee Houston’s 225 Inch Velvet Mule Deer Story

Photo of large mule deer
This past summer, Jeremy took pictures of the big mule 25 miles north of where he saw it in the fall of 2021. Jeremy Houston

Jaydee has been shooting a bow since she was 3 or 4 and has always been in the hills with me. She has taken dozens of rabbits over the years with her bow and really has a knack for making some great shots. She had recently hit a small growth spurt and was shooting a hand bow from her older brother. So it was time to shop. Terry Beck at TNT Archery in St. Louis. Throughout the summer we practiced shooting and hunting small game. It became pretty deadly and we were extremely excited for the next hunt.

photo of the girl with jacket
Jaydee Houston has been bowhunting since she was little. Jeremy Houston

In July, we started looking hard for some potential bucks for Jadee to bowl in the opener. My grandson told us that he saw a beautiful typical that might have been the money I had seen last November. I was surprised when I realized it was him. The boy had migrated 25 miles north of where he was in November and was hanging out with a bunch of other bucks. This group of bachelors fed every night in several agricultural fields and we were very fortunate to be good friends with some of the nearby property owners who happily gave us permission to hunt. Throughout the summer, we kept money and saw him often enough to take pictures and videos. My good friend Brian worked in the area and was able to see the bucks coming and going regularly and he helped us find a good spot to set up a blind about 100 feet away from a heavily used trail where Jaydee, Holly and I could all sit together.

picture of a blind girl on the ground
Jaydee settles into blind land to wait for her money. Jeremy Houston

On our first night in the blind, we had a few bucks and bucks, but not the big guy. Our luck would change the next evening when, with only an hour of daylight left, I saw him. “Holy cow, there it is!” I whispered to Holly and Jade. I estimated the value at 573 meters away. But with the shooting time winding down, the anticipation was killing us as we watched him, along with several other bucks and does, slowly zig zag their way towards us. We would go through any scenario if he reached us before dark. We basically had two shooting lanes and both would provide a shot from 30 to 60 yards. The plan was for Jaydee to pull over as soon as she jumped a fence and approached the first shooting lane. I would then try to stop him with a gentle verbal call and drive him away. She would then jam an arrow through his vitals. But the buck was taking what seemed like forever, and there was a little three-way panic attack in the blinds.

photo of girl with big mule deer
Jaydee practically fits inside the big dollar frame. Jeremy Houston

With 15 minutes of daylight remaining, the deer finally made a move toward the field, covering 200 yards in just a few minutes. A doe was in the lead, then a smaller buck, and then the big guy. As he jumped the fence, Jaydee drew her bow and I stopped him just as he entered the first lane. “Fifty six yards” I whispered to Jade. The boy was completely wide and looked intently at the blind man. A few seconds passed, which seemed like an eternity, and I thought to myself: Why didn’t he shoot?

“I can’t see my pins,” Jadee whispered.

I hadn’t considered the darkness within the dead land. I knew our chances were over as the buck turned and walked toward the field. I was looking down at my feet when Jaydee suddenly shot! I heard the unmistakable thud of an arrow hitting home and was practically shocked when Holly said “She sure hit it!”

family photo with large mule deer
Family photo, left to right: Jeremy, Jaydee and Holly pose with the giant muley. Jeremy Houston

Jaydee explained that she would finally be able to see her sight, put the 60-yard pin over her head and made the shot. We basically had the whole family waiting and watching from a nearby street. Brian said they were able to see the buck as he ran off and bedded down in a long sage no more than 200 yards from the blind. Not being sure of the location of the hit, we gave up an hour before heading out with lights to search.

photo of girl with mule deer rack
Jaydee’s incredible buck clocked in at 225 inches, netted 217 greens, and is likely the largest buck ever taken by a female archer. Jeremy Houston

After a short job, I was standing over the debt, screaming and yelling like only a father can when one of his children achieves something incredible. She made a fantastic shot that was quickly dismissed. As Jaydee and the others came over, I pulled out my phone and videoed everyone’s reactions. Jaydee was so pumped and kept yelling, “Let’s go!” It was so wonderful. I will never tire of seeing all the excitement of everyone coming to possibly one of the biggest bucks ever collected by a woman, let alone a 12-year-old girl with a bow and arrow.

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