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We're less than a month away from the opener for the first general deer seasons of the year. There's still time to get a Game Planner Map for your hunt this fall. Turn around time is less than a week on a Game Planner Red Zone Map and Custom Maps are ~8 business days. If you need something for a scouting trip this weekend give a Digital Map a try. At only $9.99 its a heck of a deal, and when used with the free Avenza Maps app it turns your mobile device into a GPS and you do not need a wireless signal. I'm always happy to help CWTers get their device setup. The process is simple and I can talk you through it over the phone and help with delivering the download. Even if you don't need a map for your hunt you can take advantage of the Free Game Planner Map Viewer just by registering with a valid email. Use it to map scout your unit and print your own maps. Please contact me if you have any questions: email: firstname.lastname@example.org phone: (480) 620-3309 Best of luck and thanks again to all the CWTers who are using Game Planner Maps this fall! Ed
Azooutdoors posted a topic in Coues Deer Hunting in ArizonaMy best Coues hunt started by not drawing a tag. I usually put in for 22 and hunt the Mazatzal wilderness, but this year I was unsuccessful in the draw. I then heard there were left over tags in some units and 32 was one of them. I had been in the Galiuro Wilderness west of Klondyke to Powers Garden 17 years ago and had always wanted to go back. I figured a deer hunt was the excuse I needed to get back in to some extremely rugged and beautiful country. I have Horses and Mules so I prefer to pack in and hunt wilderness areas. It gets me away from the road hunters, noisy ATV’s and competition. In August I went down to Klondike to check road conditions to the trailhead I'd be using to access the Galiuro Mountains. Pulling a stock trailer loaded can be tricky on rough roads. I quickly learned that the main road on Rattlesnake Mesa has been closed by the rancher/owner. That closure has essentially shut down a vast area west of Klondyke. (AZGFD is trying to work with the local ranchers to reestablish access to the area, but that might take a while if it ever happens) I did befriend a local rancher who was gracious enough to offer an easement through his property. In mid-October I went to see the friendly rancher and soon discovered that the road through his property was barely suitable for ATV’s and would be extremely difficult to pull a stock trailer loaded with 5 head of horses and mules. The Rancher suggested that I try another area. It was inside the Wilderness, had a healthy population of Coues and wouldn't be overrun with hunting pressure. It sounded good to me. It wouldn't get me into Powers Garden but if it got me on a nice buck I could make the concession. The following weekend I took the horses down to pack in 200 pounds of horse feed and provisions to where the rancher had recommended. I tell you what, this is some of the roughest and rockiest territory I have ever ridden. On the way out one of the horses threw his shoes and later on ended up rolling down a canyon. He was pretty beat up but I got him out. He wouldn't be able to come on the hunt the following week. I had to borrow a mare from a horse trader friend to replace him. The plan was to pack three head and ride two. I also brought along my 120lb yellow Labrador. My friend TC, a professional fisherman in Alaska who spends a couple months a year in Arizona had agreed to accompany me on my hunt. He has the ability to stare through a pair of binoculars for hours and is about as tough as they come. On Friday we headed from Cave Creek to Klondyke to start the hunt. As we were going to be about 5 miles in from the roads I wasn't worried about missing the first day of the hunt. We got to the trailhead late Friday afternoon and bivouacked there for the night. We started for our camp on Saturday morning. It took pretty much the rest of the day to get to camp, set up camp and get things lined out. Usually in camp I turn the horses loose and let them graze a bit. This time I kept the borrowed mare tied up while the geldings grazed. I put bells on a couple horses as I sleep much sounder when I can hear the bells ringing throughout the night. After the geldings were done foraging I tied them up for the night and turned the mare free. As I was lying in my bed roll I could hear the bell on the mare become fainter and fainter. I got up to bring her back in and was surprised to find her completely gone. I hadn't figured she'd leave the company of the four other horses tied up in camp. I’ve never been good at understanding females and this mare was no exception. On Sunday we glassed the hills around our camp for deer and a missing horse. TC spotted a couple doe, a couple bucks and a few Mule deer. What is it about having expensive optics that make the viewer look for game miles away, across canyons and with no possibility of ever getting to them? That one has always left me bewildered. Anyways after we came back for breakfast I decided to ride back to the truck to see if I could locate the mare. I’d hunt along the way. Well it was a beautiful sunny day and I had a nice ride, I was on my favorite Mule, in the back country, so life couldn’t be much better. Problem was I saw no deer and definitely no mare. Where could that horse have gone and how much was it going to cost me when I had to pay for her? On Monday we hiked and glassed all morning. After lunch in camp we saddled up to check out some distant ridges. Did I say earlier that this country was rough? I’m talking rough for a hiker, damned near crazy horseback. Real leg breaking stuff! We tied up the horses at the head of a canyon. TC decided to head up to higher ground to glass. I stayed to glass the country around me. About an hour later TC radioed that he had some antlers in sight and that he had also glassed up the runaway mare. I rode up to see, pulling the extra stock along. The deer were 1000 yards across a canyon, there were two bucks both 3 points but one was doing what bigger bucks do, keeping hidden and aloof. The mare was on a high bluff about 4 miles away. She was looking at the truck and trailer and I guess trying to figure out how to get across a steep canyon that separated her from the safety of the trailhead. The sun was starting to set and we didn’t want to attempt riding down the gauntlet of rocks and brush in the dark so we headed for camp. We made a plan to come back in the morning, hoping the deer would stay put. On early Tuesday morning TC set out on foot while I rode my saddle mule and ponied the pack mule. We left the other horses in camp along with the dog. The plan was to get a deer, capture the mare and be back in camp eating tenderloin and drinking margaritas by early afternoon. I bring a portable blender on some of my trips. Mules are wonderful!! The area where the action was hopefully going to take place was around 3 miles from camp. I met TC and we tethered the mules to the north side of the mountain. I took off my boots and put on a pair of sneakers in case I might actually have to walk. Walking has never been high on my list of things to do, I’ve got mules. We crested the ridge on foot. The deer hadn’t moved 100 feet! We were in business. The Mare was still staring hopelessly at the chasm between her and the trailhead. This was about 8 am. We had positioned ourselves under a big Juniper and we were 750 yards from the deer across a canyon. I’m ok at shooting long distances but I’m not a fan of taking long range shots if there is an opportunity to get closer and actually hunt. We made our plan. The slope we were on had very little cover, but there were a few Junipers closer to our quarry. We hunkered down and stealthily started our descent to close the distance. We got to 460 yards and set up for a shot. I was having difficulty finding a rest that suited me so after a while we decided to try for a closer tree. We crawled to within 300 yards of the grazing bucks. I felt good about the distance and the shot. Problem is the deer got tired of waiting on us and decided it was time for a nap. The smaller buck was snoozing in the open while the elusive one was holed up in a thicket. Should I take what was available or gamble on the uncertain? We decided the gamble might be worth it. About half an hour later we must have made some noise, because we startled a small herd of does we hadn’t seen. They were about 150 yards to the west and were giving us the curious eye. That’s when the bucks decided to get up and graze a bit. I couldn’t set up for the shot without alarming the sentry’s to our left. We sat still and waited till the does got bored and moved on. Of course by this time the bucks decided it was nap time again. Once again we waited. Another hour passed before the bucks awoke from their midday slumber. Finally! Well the bigger one was still being cagey and not presenting himself. I had his horns and the outline of his back in view and felt certain I could make the shot. 297 yards. I was shooting my .325 WSM Browning BLR and it was time. I pulled the trigger. TC was behind his 15 Swarovski’s and said the shot was good. A bit further back than was recommended but the buck definitely had a hole in him. I know a .325 is a bit big for a Coues, but he’d probably have run off with a .243. Once again we waited. The buck walked about 10 feet and lay down. The little buck went over to see what was wrong then went back to grazing nearby. After 20 minutes or so with no movement it was time to head down to get to the real work. I walked/stumbled down to the kill. Did I mention the country was rough? TC went back over the hill to get the mules. The little buck didn’t scamper off till I was within 50 yards or so. TC got down the slope with the mules. Within an hour we had him cut up, in the panniers and on the mule. It was way past midday so the misplaced mare would have to wait. Hopefully she was so confused as to her predicament that she would be in the same spot tomorrow. The tenderloin tasted great and not wanting to pack anything out we drank the last of the margaritas. Wednesday morning we broke camp, packed it all up and loaded it on the pack horses. Being one horse short TC agreed to walk out and try and get the mare. We’d meet back at the truck. The stock was beat up and weary but they were heading home. Coming out of the deep canyon below the trailhead one of the horses gave up and I had to leave him tied to a tree. When I got to the truck the rancher met me. (I had sent him a photo of the deer the evening before and a told him when I thought we would be at the trailhead) I unpacked the stock and then rode my Mule back down to get the one tied at the bottom. The rancher walked down to help. TC had found the Mare and was heading up the canyon. We met at the point where the pony was tied. I dallied up the pony and pulled him up the canyon. The rancher was impressed with the buck and thought he was a great trophy. We made it out with all five horses the dog and a 90 plus inch Coues deer. It was a great trip and I’m thankful for the success, opportunities and all the wilderness areas the great state of Arizona provides.
I grew up around friends and family who hunted, but it was not until my later 20's that I would get to experience what all the excitement was about. This excitement that I speak of is hunting the "grey ghost". Now, I first hunted for these magnificent and shall I say elusive animals in 2010 in Unit 32. I put in with my 2 brothers and good friend. I had to be back at work on Saturday, so I only got to hunt Friday. My younger brother and I headed back home with our tags empty. My older brother and good friend both filled their tags that Monday. My next experience came the following year when I drew a tag for unit 23 with my brother in law. My brother in law never hunted for deer before, so I was considered the knowledgeable one. I decided to hunt the lower east side of the unit around cherry creek. Scouting for our hunt was a blast and we manage to see many rattlesnakes, etc. On opening day of the hunt there were hunters everywhere. The only way to avoid other hunters was to hike back in. This proved to be successful in fing the deer. Taking one proved to be much more difficult. My good friend who was helping me out on the hunt spooked up two nice 4x4 bucks bedded down. I had the opportunity to take a shot with them on a dead run. When I tried to get them in my sights I could not see them!!! I had my lens zoomed in to full capacity from when I was at the shooting range sighting in my rifle. I adjusted and they were long gone by then. That afternoon we had another opportunity. My brother in law spotted a 3x3 buck about 450 yds away. I spotted another buck soon after that. Since my brother in law spotted his first we waited for his buck to get out his bed. My buck got up first and left. My brother in law was able to shoot twice at his buck but unsuccessful in both attempts. I decided to put in again to Unit 32 in 2012. My good friend Craig who had never hunted before put in with me. His wife gave me a hard time that she wanted him home in one day. Although she was joking, Craig and I both agreed to take the first bucks we saw. That afternoon of the first day of the hunt we saw 2 young bucks and decided to take them. Craig shot once from 400+ yds and missed. We decided to walk around the saddle and drop in on them. The first buck spooked up and Craig took him on a dead run. As he walked to his harvest, I walked around the back side of this knoll suspecting the other buck would come around on the back side. I was right! He came out 10yds in front of me where he laid after my shot. Although he was not big, he was 3 years of DIY work and learning of the species.