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This year of Archery hunting coues deer has been the most eventful to date as far as the class of deer that were spotted by my hunting partners and I. As always great anticipation led up to the first of the year waiting for our tags to be valid. Finally it was time for the coues whitetail rut hunt throughout our playground of Sky Island mountain ranges. Ample time had passed sense fall rifle hunts and anyone with this hobby or way of life rather is chomping at the bit to run them selves ragged through the impressive habitat our elusive prey calls home. After many long days of covering country by boot and glass there were several close calls to speak of. Disappointing moments of watching deer I'd love to have harvested bounce away taunting me with a flag of their large white tail waving goodbye. Or watching as a trophy that we located simply happened to be traveling at a pace and direction to where we couldn't negotiate a stalk in time. Due to work schedules my hunting partner Creed and I spent days in the woods solo. On a day I was working Creed was able to put everything together an a mature buck and succeeded in taking him home. Actually able to do so with his wife and two kids and a couple other family members along for the adventure watching his stalk from a distance, it doesn't get any better than that. So although wrapping an Archery tag around a coues horn, especially in my opinion after a spot and stalk style kill, is an amazing accomplishment and experience. The only bad news is, that's your year. Your done in AZ at that point. You are ineligible to draw a rifle tag or continue hunting with your bow in the fallowing Archery seasons that year. Neither while they're in velvet during a three week hunt in August and September or another few weeks in December. It's well worth it but it's a little bit of a drag knowing you have to wait a whole year. Well as I said there were a handful of close calls for me but I was never quite able to seal the deal. From being less than 15 yards from a bedded 110 class buck when my ankle popped giving him an excuse to come unglued, to watching with disbelief as a bobcat chased a 115 class buck over the hill away from me. It just wasn't my January but at least I came away from the season with tabs on some mature bucks I could look forward to looking for in August and some great memories. After a long spring and summer during the off season I was counting the days until my tag was good again and trying to plan out my days off work. I was able to take a couple days putting trail cameras up here and there attempting to get a close up of some of the bigger bucks growing their new horns. An idea came to mind that the coolest thing ever would be to kayak or raft out of primitive country with a bow and coues deer as luggage! By chance, I wound up with a couple used kayaks in a trade deal just in time. After getting my work schedule altered around during the season I wound up with a 3 day weekend, a 2 day weekend and a 6 day stretch that I could hunt. Unfortunately some under the gun duties lingered into the first set, keeping me from hunting at all. The 2nd set went great, I saw a couple nice bucks and one day with my brother Caleb as a spotter I stalked a really big buck but never got a shot. The long and final stretch of 6 days was my perfect opportunity to give the float trip a shot. After my best efforts at convincing multiple buddies it would be an awesome experience several wanted to go but nobody was able to make it happen, so I would have to go alone. A minimum of 2 days and a maximum of 6 days. A list of everything I would need had been revised 100 times and I was all packed up. My dad was able to spend a day helping drop my truck at the bottom and chauffeur me and my gear to the top end of the float. This time of year still getting in the 90's and not knowing how long it would take to get meat out I decided to tow the second kayak behind me with an ice chess full of dry ice and blocks of ice. After a little research I decided this would be sufficient for the length of the trip. We got everything put together and loaded up at the rivers edge. After some hesitation from looking at the river not knowing how this might end we said our goodbyes and off I went. A short time later knowing there was no turning back I began to think to myself "wow man what did you get yourself into?". The first few hours was an intense learning experience, I looked back at one point and the kayak with the ice chest was dragging behind me up side down. I jumped out and corrected it also checking the tie down straps. I stopped just before dark without a choice to go further, the trailer kayak was water logged because it flipped quite a few times. It wound up having some minor leaks that I didn't notice when I tested them in my brothers pool. We had filled the ice chest with rocks and loaded the kayak but nothing could have imitated the river. By the end of the day my drive to stay positive was suffering. I made it as far as I could that first day wanting to get to truly primitive country that possibly doesn't get hunted in search for a population of wildlife where hopefully a larger number of deer could reach full potential. Plus I had a bear and lion tag I would have been more than willing to fill. I still felt cheated from January when I stalked less than 20 yards from a lion and never got a shot off, all while Creed was taking video from a distance. Anyways, at daylight the next day I found myself above vast cliffs over looking the river bottom and amazing country that was just breathtaking as the sun presented my surroundings. I was in a far off place, now would be a worse time than usual for an injury or rattle snake bite. It would pay to be extra cautious. After immediately glassing up trophy big horned sheep and a number of white tail doe's I continued my search. Half way through the day of searching I hadn't turn up a single buck. Now I was really second guessing this idea. I bailed back off the shear climb the way I had come and broke camp. I decided to go as far as I could and have one more morning hunt the next day. But then to end the trip early and salvage my days off work in country I was familiar with near my own stomping grounds. The rest of the day was a repeat of the day before in many ways. The main problem was the trailer kayak. I had never done this or found any information on how to but leading a loaded down kayak with another loaded down kayak basically took away all ability to navigate the rapids. I adjusted the weight several times attempting to help the issue but nothing worked. I flipped both boats more times than I could count and was slammed into boulders and under over hanging brush banks and logs until I was far beyond my whits. Luckily I didn't lose anything because of careful packing and tie downs but my equipment was failing and my energy was gone. Especially the back kayak was taking in water and about every hour I had to stop and unload it so I could tilt it up and pull the plug to drain it. During the mess of a tricky corner I was trying to keep my kayaks on course and I lost hold of my paddle. I kept glancing down stream and it was getting further away fast but I couldn't abandoned my gear yet. Once I got through to a decent spot I had to take off running and swimming to catch my paddle. My feet and ankles were cussing me from the rocky abuse by the time I reached my paddle about 100 yards down river. My frustration level caused me to cancel my plans for the next morning and do whatever it took to reach my truck that day. I gained some skill making it a little easier and became numb to the torture making the next 10 or so hours a blur. I finally straightened my back and clumsily dragged my stuff out of the river and across land for about 150 yards to my truck. It was late at night by this time and darkness had increased the difficulty considerably. My head lamp also provided a constant cloud of bugs flying into my mouth, nose and eyes. You get the picture. This trip didn't go to plan but by the end I was glad I went through with it and plan to try again using some of the information I gathered on this trial run. For the possibility of hunting the next day I had a long night ahead of me still just getting home. After the 1.5 hour drive on dirt roads just to get to pavement I jumped out for a bathroom break. Four hours later I suddenly jerked my head up and realized when I got back in my truck I had leaned onto my center console and had fallen into a deep sleep in the worst position ever. That day was waisted after all, just getting home and recouping. I stopped and slept one more time for an hour before making it home. I went out that evening with my brother Caleb and found some young bucks neither of us pursued. Three days of the season remained for me before I had to return to work. The first day was Labor Day and there was some family bbq stuff planned in the afternoon so I hunted close to home with my brother, brother in laws and my niece who has her second deer hunt this fall. We hunted the unit her hunt is in to do some scouting. My brother Caleb stalked a couple good bucks with me a step behind him to video. That was really exciting for me because he is an avid coues hunter and has harvested numerous mature deer but none with a bow yet. We got to around 40 yards but it was too thick and no shot presented itself. The wind swirled on us and the deer busted out, always something. These tough little deer are really good at staying alive no doubt. Needing to make the bbq on time, our hunt was over for the day. I had two days left and decided to hunt a place that takes a lot if time to get into position combining the drive and hike. Three o'clock the next morning came quick, high hopes for this spot kept me up some that night. For years I noticed this spot from a distance and always wanted to check it out and this January I finally had time to scratch the itch. Creed and I hunted it one day and spotted some great bucks, an epic day of hunting really. It was the day a bobcat chased a bruiser over the mountain away from me. The day after, Creed had to work but I went back and found that buck again and did a six hour stalk only to mistake where he was bedded right at the end. I was staring into the brush at 25 yards when I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye and when I slowly looked the monster buck was staring at me at 35 yards! Knowing it was over I turned and drew my bow in one motion but before settling my pin he disappeared with a flash of grey and white. I've had countless failed stalks but it's always hard when you know you blew it especially on such a great animal. Possibly even a lifetime best for me with my bow. Luckily both days I got footage of the deer, including when the bobcat chased him, and would remember his huge frame well. These thoughts are what robbed my sleep all these months later the night before hopefully having another chance at him. Everything was going to schedule the next morning but as I walked away from my truck I heard a hissing sound from my right rear tire. I just shook my head knowing it would be on the rim when I got back, I'll deal with that later. Before leaving home a couple hours before I decided I better throw in a few last minute things incase I get on a big buck and decide to stay the night to avoid the long rough drive again. The last part of that drive in I was pleased to see the tall green grass in the road. Not only had no other hunters been on it during this season but there had been plenty of rain. The first big decision of the day was go up a long ridge to my right or get on the first pointed hill on my left. I figured I'd lose a little time on the hill but this time of year I might find a shooter on the long ridge in that lower country. It would be a mistake to go charging up it in the dark without spending a few minutes checking it out first from the pointed hill. Once at the top of the hill I started getting set up to glass just in time to see, which is a little late in my opinion. The country looked great and I couldn't wait to start picking it apart through the glass. This time of year is different than glassing during the rifle hunts in the fall and winter. Not only is everything vibrant green but the deer are also a different color. Their temporary red or even orange tent in contrast with green surroundings cause them to almost light up, especially at first light when the sunlight is coming from the side instead of the top of their backs. I had given Caleb and Creed a hard time about not being able to join me for this hunt. Them having seen the deer from January by reviewing my video of him, I knew it was killing them not to be there. They both had to work that day so as soon as I sat down I noticed I had phone service and I started a group text with a couple scenery pictures of this awesome coues country just to rub it in. The first thing I did in my Binos was a quick scan of all the best looking stuff close to me, basically everything under 1000 yards. I intently but quickly searched up the long ridge I had considered hiking up first thing. I was about halfway done with that ridge when I spotted my first deer of the day. It had been 7 minutes sense I sent the scenery pictures and now I sent another text that read only two words. "Giant spotted!" It was 5:58 and my blood started racing. There was no question, at about 750 yards I immediately new I was looking at the buck I came here for. I looked away to get my spotting scope and when I looked back he was gone. He had stepped behind a bush causing a radical panic for a long 5 minutes. Finally there he was again, I rushed at first to get some video before he disappeared but over the next 4 hours of watching him waiting for the right opportunity for a stalk I got pretty good footage through my Spotting scope just with my phone. He laid down for an hour at one point but not in a spot I thought he would stay in. It was a good thing I didn't go for it because I wouldn't have had enough time to get into position. Without anyone spotting I would have lost track of him and more than likely bumped him and possibly not even known when he busted out. My back and body were still feeling the aftermath of the kayaking plunder and my eyes were fighting me to stay open. When in this situation the famous last words are "well I only looked away for a second, I don't know where he went." From past experience I knew I had to grind this part out and wait for him to bed. His demeanor indicated he was ready to lay down but it was dragging on. When your having to keep your eyes glued to the glass there is no breaks when you're alone so you have to do what you have to do while glassing. I mean everything... let's just say if anyone was watching me at this time they were pretty freaked out. But hey when nature calls there's no refusing! Anyways, a coyote trotted along the hill below the buck and I held my breath he'd stay put. It was a huge relief when the buck watched him pass by and went back to eating. Just as I was sure he was about to bed down a doe came up from the bottom of the hill and layed down next to him. After staring at her for a minute the buck turned up hill and walked straight over the top out of sight. I layed flat on my back right away and stretched and then leaned back up for thirty minutes making sure he didn't come back over to bed down. I couldn't believe it, I watched all that time and then he was gone. Typical really for a buck to do the last thing you were hoping. It's a huge advantage for a stalk to see a deer bed down. In this case it wasn't all bad he went over because I already knew what it looked like on the other side and his new location put me above him easily with the wind in my favor. Even so, seeing right where they lay down is a big deal for the success rate with a bow. While watching the ridge line hoping for his return I was going over my stalk options from here. After much self debate I decided I was sure he went over a short distance and layed down. The verdict was something I would rarely do, go straight after him. Fallow his path over the hill slowly and do a blind stalk without knowing his exact position. A popular alternative for my style of hunting would have been to go all the way around and pin point his location from a distance before returning to this side of the hill for a stalk. I just didn't feel like I had the time. I got all packed up and took off for my landmarks to make sure I was in the right spot. A perfect amount of wind for stalking had come in over the last hour and the clouds were consistent enough to give me cover from the sun as well, perfect conditions. While about 100 yards from the top of the ridge I put on my knee pads and face cover and knocked an arrow just in case. During a stalk there are countless decisions as you go. Where and when to move, where to step and how fast. The quiet can make your ears ring. Your mouth is slightly open to improve your hearing and water is usually left behind. This was a short stalk so far but they can be drug out all day sometimes. Every little thing matters. I slowly crept forward until I was barely able to see over onto the other side of the hill. I left my pack there and let the next 20 yards take a while. After every tiny step I would grab my Binos from my chest and focus through each tree, bush, rock and blade of grass. There can be no noise. I became confident he wasn't in sight but I had come over about 70 yards to the right of where he did because of the angle he was walking when he came over. I retreated back over the ridge and worked my way to the left, to where he passed through. The wind was right in my face. The moment was aproaching where I would find out weather he was gone or I was very close to a true giant with my bow! Throughout this stalk I couldn't shake the feeling that it was gonna workout but the intensity of thinking about what might happen started literally giving me a stomach ache. I had worked my way out to the edge of some rocks about 10 yards from the top of the ridge, now on the same side of the hill as him again. Slowly scanning through the close range habitat with my binos all of the sudden his massive antlers were protruding from the grass behind an oak shrub. His head had that slow nod to it like he was chewing his cud. Realising he was facing directly away from me I lowered my glasses and ranged the branch above him at 25 yards! My body felt a surge of uncontrolled energy and my heart was trying to kill me. I held still and tried to envision a shot. There was no chance an arrow would make it. There was a shot from 10 feet to my left but I was too close to move that much. I prefer close shots at laying deer that have no clue of my presence. Standing deer have jumped my string but I've had good experience with shooting deer that aren't ready to move. This year I prepared a lot at home to shoot out to 80 yards in the wind equipping with a heavy arrow but I definitely do everything I can for a close shot. He was calm and the wind was ideal so I just stayed still and waited to feel in control of myself again. I ranged a few spots to my left and right in case he stood and came into view. Just when I had decided to back up a couple steps to wait behind a small bush to cover the movement of my draw he exploded from his bed and rushed to my right across the hill away from me. I felt deep panic as he passed by each spot I had previously ranged. I drew and settled without realizing it and just moved down my pins as he became a smaller target. Finally knowing there was nothing I could do I instinctively made a loud doe bleat noise with my mouth. It's a noise one might use during the rut in January but I didn't know what else to do. He slammed to a stop and whipped around to look at me, now standing broadside with his head to the left. With my left eye I could see he stopped ten feet to the left of my pack where I had left it on the ridge. Luckily I had ranged it already so to rest my draw was unnecessary. 68 yards, I settled my shot and squeezed it off. All this happened in the matter of seconds but what I remember well is watching my arrow fly toward him first on an upward angle and then sink from the skyline above his body striking home right where I had focused. The buck stumbled and lunged forward and away while grunting and kicking his back legs in desperation to be gone. As he turned and ran over the ridge back over to where I watched him all morning I could see my arrow had only penetrated about 5 inches square into his shoulder. To far forward, I had aimed slightly left into the wind but my arrow flew straight. Unexpectedly not effected by the steady wind blowing from left to right. Not realizing the lack of arrow depth was due to where I hit I grabbed the fourth arrow on my quiver which was equipped with a broadhead more designed for penetration. The buck was out of sight so I did the most quiet speed walk I'm capable of toward my pack. Covering about 90 yards I peaked over a bush onto the side hill below me. The buck had circled around and was now standing very wobbly with his head half down at 43 yards. My pin was instantly settled on the target and the arrow was in flight. Making contact behind his right shoulder passing through lower on the off side of his chest cavity behind his left armpit the deadly broadhead fallowed a perfect path through his heart. He lunged forward about 15 yards and hit the ground just out of sight behind a big bush. I knew that shot was golden but still hung out on top of the ridge for about 25 minutes because I didn't actually get to see him fall. I was too sick from rattled nerves to eat and my emotions were getting a hold of me pretty good. I carefully moved down hill. As soon as I was where he had been standing a heavy blood trail was obvious and at the end of it I could see his side arching from the grass. I was overwhelmed walking up to my buck especially as his antlers came into view from around the bush where he expired. There was no service so I couldn't call or text anyone and it turns out Creed and Caleb had been left hanging. The last they knew he walked out of sight away from me and the next thing they got was a couple late texts and a teaser pic of a big thumbs up covering the antlers. My wife and dad were wondering what was going on for a while too because I told them I found a giant that morning. I couldn't pick up service again until the drive out. I field dressed him and took my time with the heavy pack out. Then I had to deal with that tire. I just laughed when I saw it was flat. I was like, ok it doesn't really matter now. Haha. I did my best to take pictures with my phone on my tripod using the timer but it's hard to capture the magnitude of this beast with a picture. Plus my phone was about dead from taking video that morning so the screen was too dim to view the pictures I was taking. I set a couple trail cameras in the area this summer hoping to get pictures of this buck. I planned on checking them the day I hunted there but fortunately never made it that far sense I found him almost a mile from where I stalked him in January. I'm anxious to recover and review them to possibly have pictures of my buck as he grew. My family and I enjoyed some great deer tacos for dinner that night as they were all held captive to hear all about the hunt. Just kidding, they all support me in this and look forward to the times we go out together. My wife and kids shoot bows as well, there was a very close call for my wife to dirty her Archery tag last year. She's excited about next January just after her December whitetail rifle tag she drew with a good friend. Both of them will be pregnant for the hunt so wish us luck! I am passionate about spot and stalk Archery hunting coues deer. Although I have had many great times with a rifle too, there's just nothing like going into the wild with a bow and sneaking up on these amazing animals that I have the deepest respect for. I feel very fortunate to have even seen this buck, let alone harvested him with my bow. Especially sense specifically I have always thought it would be awesome to take a mature buck in the velvet. I know there are many passionate hunters that dream of a deer of this class, same as I have, but the timing just hasn't provided the opportunity yet. It's my desire to enjoy these moments over the years to come with my family and friends. Our oldest child will be old enough shortly and I can't wait to pass on knowledge and understanding of the wild to her, our two sons and their unknown younger siblings when the time comes. I was alone for this experience which made it special in another way but I could not have done it without the support from my hunting partners Creed and Caleb. Without my Dad, who I hold responsible for igniting the passion for the great outdoors in me as a kid. Most of all the support I receive in all I do from my uniquely patient wife. I love you babe, thank you. Good luck to everyone on your fall hunts and be safe. January is right around the corner!