And with a bow no less! Jaydee Houston, age 12, had a deal with her mom Holly: if Holly ever drew a deer hunt tag before Jaydee turned 18, they’d use Utah’s youth-hunter mentor program to let Jaydee take the tag. Lo and behold, the miracle tag came about in May of 2022 - a stroke of luck in more ways than one, as the tag was in an infamously hard to draw area that also happened to have a buck that Jaydee’s dad Jeremy had photographed months before. The family had kept tabs on the big buck in the meanwhile and had reason to believe it would be within Jaydee’s tag. However, on August 25, 2022, the first day they set up in a blind to wait, there was the huge velvet typical mule deer walking along a high-use deer track.
Jeremy ranged the buck, and Jaydee made the 56-yard shot - clean and fatal - “with fifteen minutes of daylight left,” according to Jeremy. In an interview he did with Field and Stream, Jeremy reported “I was standing over the buck hooting and hollering like only a dad can when one of his kids accomplishes something incredible … I pulled out my phone to video everyone’s reactions. Jaydee was pumped and yelling ‘Let’s go!’ It was so awesome. I will never tire of watching all the excitement of everyone coming over to perhaps one of the biggest bucks ever harvested by a woman, let alone a 12-year-old girl with a bow and arrow.”
According to the Pope and Young Bowhunting Club standards, Jaydee’s buck had a green-gross score of 225, a green-gross typical frame of 217, and a green net typical score of 205.” That’s a lot of big numbers that mean a lot of different things, but to put it succinctly - the buck is big. Green numbers mean they’re subject to a final judgment after the antlers have been preserved properly, but there’s no denying that Jaydee’s buck is one of the biggest a female bowhunter has ever harvested.
According to Field and Stream’s article, based on Pope and Young’s records, the buck will be the third biggest velvet typical mule deer ever taken by a bowhunter if the numbers stand as they are.
Jaydee herself demonstrates humility when asked how it felt to get the kill: “I was honestly surprised our plan worked - I really couldn’t believe I was about to get a shot at him!” When asked how it felt to have gotten her trophy buck, surrounded by her family celebrating, Jaydee says simply “It was so awesome. I can’t even describe it.”