KINGMAN - Taking a big mule deer is one of the toughest things a sportsman can do. Taking one with a bow and arrow is even more challenging.
Mule deer, especially the ones that live on public lands, don't get big unless they are smart and have survived natural predators and humans for about five years.
One sportsman in our community who seems to have found the secret to success on trophy bucks is Blake Chapman. This soft-spoken and humble sportsman is one of the few hunters in Arizona who is willing and able to spend the time and effort necessary to successfully hunt big mulies.
Chapman doesn't count on just luck to be successful; he does it with lots of hard work and time spent in the field. However, in one aspect, he really is lucky. He somehow manages to beat the tremendous odds when it comes to drawing tags for premier units that are known for producing large mule deer bucks.
The Arizona Strip, Unit 13B, is probably the most well known area in the state - and arguably the Southwest - where huge bucks can be hunted. But tags are few, and the odds to draw one range from high for archery tags to astronomical to draw a rifle tag. Chapman has somehow defied the odds and has managed to draw not one but three Arizona Strip tags in a row! He ought to be the poster boy for the Arizona Game and Fish Department and their random draw system.
In 2007 he drew a rifle tag and all he did was bag the largest buck taken on that hunt. Chapman and his buck has been the subject of several stories in magazines and this newspaper, plus you'll see him on some current advertising in at least one well known hunting magazine.
This year, he drew yet another archery deer tag on the Strip and he hunted hard for most of the 20-day season before success came to him. Chapman hunted one buck for 12 days in the southern part of the unit, but the old mossyback eluded him, so he decided to take a break and hunt in another part of the unit.
It was here that he found success in the form of a giant 3-by-3 buck that sported a rack of antlers that were just over 30 inches wide. As far as I know, this is the second widest buck taken on the archery hunt.
Chapman is pretty tight lipped about the details of his successful hunt, other than to say that local sportsman Bob McFadden was with him when he bagged that monster buck and they had to pack the big buck over a mile.