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Success for a Rookie Coues Hunter

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Thought I'd post a couple pics and a write up on my first trip to AZ to hunt. First thing I'd like to do is thank the folks that responded to my post, asking for advice. When I am setting foot in a state that I've never hunted, for a species that I've never laid eyes on, and going in solo to top it off; every bit of knowledge folks are willing to share is really appreciated. Although it didn't end up working out due to timing of my trip and fairly quick success, I even had some offers to go out and help me glass! How cool is that? Now for a quick run down on the trip.

I left Oregon a day and a half late due to digging out from a snow storm that hit us with 18" of snow. We were expecting another 8" in a couple days so, I made sure wood was on the porch and everything was clear and prepped for my wife. After fighting the lights on the trailer and bad gas in my on/off road bike I made the tactical decision just to leave both of them at home. I never use them much, so I was kind of relieved not to have one more thing to worry about anyway. I crammed my rig full of everything I could think of and then took off in my old Chevy. I had to pull over and sleep a few hours a couple times and going was slow through some white out conditions in NV, but the morning of the second day I was driving into my unit as it was getting light; I felt like a kid at Christmas! After driving around some of the area and getting a feel for the terrain, I found a nice spot to set up camp. It was noon by then so I spent the rest of the day going to a couple vantage points close to areas at the top of my research list. By the time evening hit I hadn't seen a deer, but I had a plan of where I would hike in first thing in the morning. I was excited and optimistic, but I have to admit I was a little nervous, because I still had never even seen a Coues deer!


The next morning was rainy and windy, but being from OR I wasn't gonna let that slow me down :).

I eased my way in and slowly worked my way across a a big bowl headed for a steep hogs-back that led up to a main ridge that was about a mile in. My plan was to work this ridge for the day. I could cover a lot of ground, with a lot of glassing spots to see down and across all the fingers.

Getting to the hogs-back that was steep, but fairly open turned out to take quite awhile. The flat leading to it wasn't all that flat and I was getting a quick lesson in the plant life of AZ :D.

I took my time as I headed up the hogs-back, stopping to glass as I topped each bench. As I topped out a bench about 2/3 of the way up and set down to rest and glass. There it was; finally my first Coues deer! A forked horn buck and it was even in range at a little over 300 yards. As I watched and took pics, eventually I picked another little spike buck out of the brush. I was feeling a lot better all of the sudden. My eyes were tuned in to what to look for, now I was ready! As I worked my way up and glassed I started picking out deer more readily. By the time I was to the other side of the ridge and started glassing the fingers and bowls, I had seen a total of 8 deer counting the two little bucks.

As I sat and ate lunch and glassed, I caught movement on the opposite finger about 400 yards out. By the time I got glass on the spot, 2 deer slipped over the ridge. I was sure I'd seen a good mainframe on both deer, but it happened so fast, I was second guessing myself.

I decided that I'd make a run for the ridge and try to get all the way to the other end, where I would be positioned to look back across a big bowl, looking back towards the finger they crossed. It was a long shot, but figured they might hold up in this canyon; or I might cut them off before they made it over the finger I'd be on. It was all laid out within 400 yards, so if I saw them I would hopefully get a shot.

As I sat and glassed, the wind blew back into the thick brushy bowl. I thought maybe they would get my wind and head back the other way if they hadn't beat me across the finger I was on. About the time I was ready to write these deer off and head to another glassing location, I spotted the two bucks headed back for the top of the finger they had originally crossed. One quick look and I knew that I'd be happy with the bigger of the two bucks. I quickly set the bi-pod out to full height and settled in.

I'd be lucky to get one shot, if he stopped or hesitated before he topped the bench. As, I stayed locked on him, he weaved in and out of the thick brush. If he didn't stop I'd be out of luck, I knew he'd be pushing 400 yards(386 as ranged exactly later). The first buck went over and disappeared without stoppingand I thought I was done for. As the buck I was locked on to reached the little bench he was going to cross, he hesitated and I was already squeezing. At the shot he disappeared. The shot felt and sounded good, but as I worked my way up to the ridge and over to the finger that he was on, I felt that pit in my stomach that I get until I'm sure. I said a little prayer for a quick recovery, as I glassed down the finger. I couldn't see anything promising, but when I headed down to look for the deer or blood, a crow flew in and hovered over where I'd last seen the buck. I was now more sure than ever. After a quick finishing shot, I thanked God for answering my prayers, then sat down and admired my first Coues buck, a nice little 3pt. I was amazed how little he actually was, as up until now I hadn't seen a deer closer than a couple hundred yards. I could immediately see why people are so hooked on these tiny little guys; they are amazing!


I took pics. caped, skinned and hung him in a tree. I had just enough time to pack a quarter, head and his cape out before dark.


After a crazy wind, rain and snow filled night, I hiked back in with my frame pack and carried the other 3/4s out. I packed bones and all as I had a lot of time and I find if that's a reasonable option, I can get a lot more net meat %. That afternoon I was able to spot a herd of Javelina (another first :)) and was lucky enough to get to visit with some great folks in town, as well as, talk with another out of state hunter and his guide. All very nice folks!

I had a perfect 22 degree night for hanging meat in camp and the next morning I packed up bright and early and started the 23 hour drive back to OR.


I am stoked to get to come back to AZ in February to hunt Javelina in unit 23, which will be another great first adventure. I am blessed to get to live out a lot of the hunts I've dreamed about most of my life with the support of my wonderful wife and family!

Sorry for the long winded write up, but it's hard to contain the excitement that for me, comes out with replaying and sharing the story with some detail and pics!

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Congrats on your first coues!!!

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Looks like a Remington 700 in a classic stock, what caliber? Nice job getting your deer!

Thanks! It's a .300 RUM. I actually have almost all Win. Model 70's, but I won this at an Oregon Hunters Association banquet and thought I'd give it a try a few years back. I've ended up shooting quite a few critters with it since then. It is a really nice shooting gun. It has a longer barrel than I like, but probably needs it to utilize all that powder. I really like my model 70's, as I grew up with that style safety and most of mine have 22 inch barrels.

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Great write up and awesome buck. Congrats!

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