posted on March 19, 2012 06:40
By Mike Handley
The last time Mark Huval thought enough of a buck to put an arrow through it, Louisiana folk were still reeling from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina. There was a different president, a different pope, and gasoline cost $2.10 a gallon.
Six years is a long time to wait for the right buck, especially if you're a bowhunter, and even more so if you're packing a 58-pound-draw recurve.
The deer that finally won Mark's heart last season was probably born in 2005, the year he arrowed his last buck. He knew the animal well, too. He'd even waved goodbye to it the previous season, when it was a clean 5x5 with 40 or so less inches of antler.
Mark is one of five people who hunt 1,200 acres adjacent to the 17,500-acre Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge, which is shaped like a rubber ducky. He's made the 92-mile drive from Lafayette to Avoyelles Parish since 1991. He began his love affair with his Black Widow recurve four years before that.
On the cold and rainy day after Christmas, a Monday, Mark donned his rain slicker, loaded his gear into a small boat and used a trolling motor to reach a homemade wooden ground blind only 300 yards from the refuge's border. The buck with a familiar face passed within SIX yards about 7:30.
At 186 2/8 inches (203 1/8 with the spread), Mark's bruiser is a new world record among Semi-irregulars felled by recurve bow. It pushes the Wayne Tarpley Buck from Grayson County, Texas, which has reigned since 1998, into the No. 2 spot.
The complete story will appear in Rack magazine next fall.