I Think Mule Deer are the Largest Challenge with a Bow

Marc Warnke was on the cover of the Winter 2002 Trophy Hunter Magazine

I know some will disagree but I believe that the largest challenge available to a bow hunter is killing a trophy mule deer.

So withstanding nay-sayers claims of successful harvest of fleas, flying mergansers, or whatever else you can come up with, I’ll tell you why I feel a trophy mule deer is the ONE. Before I dive in, let it be known I have personally killed four mule deer over 200 inches–three of which were with my bow. I’m an authority on how to screw up killing big muleys because I’ve done that TONS more than the four times I’ve done it right. Alright, alright…I’ll get on with backing my claim.

A big muley, which I consider anything over 180 B&C, is not a creature of predictable habit, lives mostly in open terrain and doesn’t respond to calling which leaves only spot and stalk. Remember the previously mentioned “open terrain”…well that makes for a freakn’ difficult stalk. What’s that you say? “Desert donkeys are as dumb as a sack of rocks during the rut.” You’d be correct…BUT…the does with them are not when you’re inside of 100 yards. So they have no big Achilles Heel that we can take advantage of. (Sorry, I like to dangle my prepositions)

It all adds up to this; can you close to the shooting distance necessary with archery equipment, and what does it take? You need to be the sneakiest of the sneakiest and have the patience of a horny, yet faithful, married man. I have taken over two hours to close the last 30 yards on a stalk. It’s almost painful, but has to be something you are willing to do. I’ve backed off of giants knowing there was no way I was going to close the distance and ended up never finding them again. I’ve moved in and pulled back out and tried alternate routes multiple times on the same stalk only to fail. It’s just part of the muley with a bow game.

All the patience and sneakiness in the world won’t help you if you don’t have a big mule deer to chase in your binoculars. Of my four biggest mule deer, three were killed using outfitters. They had the right mule deer living in their areas. That has been my one advantage. With the difficulties of drawing tags this might be what makes the difference for you too. Let us know if we can help here at Outdoors International. Here is my personal number. 208 867 6675
~Marc Warnke



    1. Tom says

      That’s just an awesome post, Marc. Love your wit. But I don’t agree with you – I think killing ANY mule deer with a bow is the most difficult of tasks…and I have zero succesful tries to prove it! :)

    2. Josef McCulloch says

      I am also a mule deer junkie ( THE HANDS DOWN HARDEST ANIMAL TO TAG USEING A BOW ). I would take a 30″ mule deer over a 350 class elk any day. I just love the rush of the long lasting stalk on a giant mule deer. I have yet to make the long lasting pack back to the truck with a huge rack on by pack. I have blown stalks on nice deer 5 years in a row. One of these days it will happen. I just hate saying ” there’s always next year “.

      • Marc Warnke says

        Boy do I know the flopping around at night–can’t stop the replay of a miss or a blown stalk on a true hog. I beat myself up for weeks.

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