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"My idea of Heaven is chasin whitetail bucks"

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I had the pleasure of enjoying about as much coues deer hunting one man can handle in any given year. I’m always grateful for the time I get to spend with my family and friends out in the field. They are truly the days I cherish most. I’m often given a hard time by some about hunting too much and my response has been the same many times. “When I lie on my death bed with my family and close friends around, I doubt I will tell them.... I wished I would have worked more Saturdays”.


On with the good stuff!


My hunting partner Nelson drew first blood of the season. He had packed in early and due to work, I didn’t hike in until Friday morning. We glassed the morning and didn’t turn much up. By 11, I was exhausted and went down for a mid-day nap. I get woken up by Nelson telling me has a one of the bucks located that we were looking for. Oddly enough, he is bedded only 400 yards away in a spot we hammered glassing all morning. He ends up making about a 420-yard shot and completely rocks the buck, on video no less. It was a quick hunt and we decided to pack out the buck together and re-group at home. We previously planned on me staying behind at our spot and Nelson return the following day after he packed out his buck. We mainly decided to do this based on an incoming storm, 2 days of bad weather were on the way. 






We tried a new area on Saturday and in the afternoon, I glassed up what appeared to be a good shooter from a distance. We had decided to take only one rifle on the backpack hunt to save weight, plan was to kill two bucks on a backpack hunt.  And knowing that long in advance I hadn’t done my homework very well with my new set up. I added a suppressor onto my hunting rifle and “thought” all was well and it was ready to go after what seemed to be great results at the range with one trip out. 🙄 Welp…… that line of thinking led to me missing my buck more than once and I ultimately had a long shameful walk out back to the truck Saturday night. I shelved my rifle and grabbed my wife’s killing machine for the rest of my hunt. We looked high and low for the buck I missed that night for a few days and finally on Wednesday afternoon I was able to relocate him about 600 yards from his original location. Redemption was mine, I had missed him with my rifle at 5-520 yards and I dropped him in his tracks late Wednesday afternoon at 518 yards. Nelson was well over a mile away looking from a different angle, so I ended up taking pics with the iphone and packing out solo which was actually a first for me. It’s the first rifle buck I’ve killed and packed out solo. He tried to head my way to give me a hand, but got cliffed out and ended up rock climbing in the dark before he had to throw in the towel and back track off the hill. Huge thanks to my buddy Nelson for keeping me motivated when some other distractions in life were weighing me down on the second leg of our whitetail hunt!




My son-in-law Alex was up next and he certainly wanted to shoot a good one, but also had limited time for his hunt. He was unable to hunt opening day so instead, I jumped at the chance to help Aaron, my buddy Harvey’s son on Friday evening. It was a big crew, Harvey and I, his daughter Rachel and Aaron’s wife Tiffany for the evening hunt. Rachel was on point that evening and glassed up a great buck for Aaron. He was a solo buck feeding on a hillside about 800 yards out. Harvey and Aaron took off while we watched from our glassing knoll. They ended up being on the same hill about 300 yards below the buck. What looked like to be a great spot to shoot from turned out to be a bust and too much vegetation lead to them not quite being able to see the buck. They could see my landmarks as I was feeding them info, but mostly just the tops of certain saguaros and trees. They steadily moved closer as light was fading and still couldn’t quite see the buck. Just when it seemed all was lost for evening, the buck suddenly started walking right towards them. They caught a glimpse of the buck and Aaron got ready to shoot. He was able to take a quick shot though a small window at only 75 yards. Whacked him good and he didn’t go far at all! What seemed to be over, turned into a mass adrenaline rush for everyone involved at very last shooting light. This is Aaron’s best buck so far, and what a great buck he was. 





Saturday morning Alex and I headed out to a new spot that had looked to have a lot of promise from views on Google Earth. We were hoping to find a monster but mid-size bucks were all we could turn up. We had plans to stay the day, but Alex’s water bladder leaked and mid-day found us short on water so we made the decision to hike out. We picked an easier spot for the evening and it turned out to be a good one. I was able to glass up a shooter, a very solid buck at last light. Without enough time to make a move, we went right back Sunday morning to relocate him. Our friend Nelson came out for the morning hunt. We never could turn up the big buck, but had watched a few smaller bucks all morning. Knowing Sunday was his last day to hunt, we made the stalk and Alex took this 3x3 to end his hunt late morning on Sunday. I had guessed the other buck to be low 90s that we couldn’t turn up again. This was Alex’s first rifle kill, up until this hunt he mostly had just bow hunted.



My son Cody, daughter Ashley and a young man named Andrew all had tags for the next hunt in two different units.  I helped Andrew & his dad with the application process & committed to help on what would be his very first hunt. It would end up being a crazy 5 days of hunting and great successes as well.


Cody and I hunted Friday and Saturday together, as a bonus we relocated the buck from Alex’s hunt on the Wednesday before opening day and now believed the buck to be much bigger with guesses over 100”. My son Cody has never taken a trophy caliber animal and I let him know this was his year and his chance! We only ended up seeing small bucks on Friday and he opted to pass. Saturday morning was turning out to be the same. When Nelson and I asked him what he wanted to do, he said he would be willing to go home empty if the big buck could not be located. He knew Saturday was my last day to help, because I had commitments with the new hunter Andrew and his Dad for Sunday and Monday. Wouldn’t you know not 10 minutes later, I glassed up the big buck and it was game time! After a long, hot day of cat and mouse, we finally had a good position and decided just to wait until he stood up. Right at sunset he finally made the mistake and got up and started walking around. The reaper was anxious and more than ready to take the shot. Cody made good on his chance and put him down quickly. My son Cody had just taken his first big Coues deer and joined the rest of Fam in the 100” club. Big thanks to Nelson, my buddy Harvey and my son-in-law Alex for assisting at different times those two days.



Next up was Andrew with his very first hunt accompanied by his Dad and I. We decided a two-year-old deer was the goal and we headed over to a different unit to make it happen. Day 1 on Sunday was the 3 of us accompanied by my friend Harvey and his daughter Rachel. A powerhouse team to make sure this youngster at least got an opportunity at a buck. Sunday came and went with little more than mass miles on our boots. Harvey was able to glass up a few bucks in the far distance, but right when we were making the final set-up, they got up and meandered off at 1ish in the afternoon which we thought was pretty strange for sure. We were about 15 minutes from a shot but the bucks kept walking and topped over even deeper into the bowl. We were way too deep in the mountains, so we opted to finish the day back there in the bowl. The wind was lousy and kept the deer bedded up tight. It just wasn't in the cards to locate another buck that evening. We made the long walk out in the dark after a windy and slow evening. Monday was just the 3 of us and we decided to hunt out of camp. We were pretty worn out from the day prior. Luck was on our side as it wasn’t long until I glassed up two bucks tucked out of the wind about a mile away. We made very good time, fast walking through the rollers and endless cat claw to get into position. I set Andrew up proned out with a pack under the butt of the rifle. After one warning shot, Andrew was able to get back on the buck and make a good second shot to kill his very first big game animal. It was all high fives from there and we loaded up to head over and to recover his deer.  I enjoyed helping these guys a lot, we had a good time and shared some laughs for sure. I’m a firm believer we need to pass it on. Andrew and his dad Patrick will be back at it again in the future I’m sure.





All worked out well so far because my daughter Ashley only had Tuesday to hunt. Switched gears and made a plan to head out with Ashley and her hubby Alex. We went out with the goal of a two-year-old deer which has been the rule of thumb for my daughter for a few consecutive years. She has one monster to her credit, but now prefers just to fill tags and have fun. She doesn’t necessarily have the desire to partake in the fool’s errand of trophy hunting. Early morning, Alex glassed up a few decent 3x3s, but they were very high on the mountain. While he watched those guys, I was able to glass up a couple forky bucks right at 400 yards out, which was a no brainer. I set Ash up and in no time at all, her buck was staggering and hit the dirt. All in all, it was a pretty easy morning hunt and pack out. No complaints out of me, I was a whooped puppy by this point on day 5 of the 3 deer, 2-unit melee. My daughter Ashley is a pretty composed shooter. Once she’s set up on a deer, it’s all grips and grins from there.





For the past 5 years, my wife has been hunting the later November hunt so we can have two weekends to fill her tag. She still remains undefeated with a few mid 90s deer and one deer that grossed 104. This year, she had expressed she wanted to go back packing again, so we’ve had a plan on where to hunt pretty much from the start of the season. With a storm scheduled to come in from 2am-6am opening morning, we decided to hike in Thursday afternoon and get settled in to our spike camp before the rain. Neither of us wanted to miss opening morning and the walk is just too far to risk hiking in the rain. Our plan backfired pretty badly as the wind report I had been keeping tabs on all week was very wrong. The rains came on time at around 2am, but by 3am the wind was so strong, it was pushing the rain fly completely off the top of the tent. It was rendered useless and rain was pouring into the tent. Add to the fact we were unusually cold that weekend, about 10 degrees less than normal for this hunt. We put our rain ponchos on, but we were taking on so much water into the tent and wind was pounding us, we were clearly set up in the worst spot to take the brunt of everything the wind was delivering. I had no choice but to collapse the tent and try to roll it over to get the now open top sealed up somehow. Colleen was pretty worried to say the least, we were both shivering and I was just hopeful it would clear out soon. I held the top of the tent rolled up for a little over an hour to avoid more water coming in. Eventually the rain stopped, but the wind continued to pound us. I make the choice to get out and look for a better spot for the tent at about 5am. After I found a spot on a little shelf not far away, we moved camp while getting blown all over the place and dropping items in the dark along the way. It was basically a total debacle. After the tent was set up, we went back to find missing items and were able to locate everything but the rain fly. Luckily, the rains didn’t come back and we were in a spot that cut most of the wind. Out of sheer exhaustion, we slept in past first light. I was the first to emerge from the tent and walk around. I couldn’t believe my eyes, less than a minute out of the tent, I spotted the rain fly 100 yards or so off the side of the ridge. Immediately I knew, we were in a much better situation. This was definitely the turning point on our pre-dawn dilemma. I sat down to start glassing and within 10 minutes or so I had a big mature buck in the glass.  He was bedded a little over 1000 yards out just under a ridgeline. It was early, and the wind had him pinned on our side of the mountain for sure. We dropped through a big canyon and headed up the hillside in hopes he wouldn’t get up and move far. Our goal was to reach a small shelf that I was confident would lead to a shot. We made our final push up to the shelf and I snuck over to find him still bedded in the same spot. Shot distance was 545 and with cross winds approaching 10mph. Luckily we were on the good side of the ridge or it would have been 20mph I'm guessing. Before we could get set up and be ready, he decided to get up and start feeding. No sooner than Colleen was on him and ready to pull, a thick fog blew over and just like that, the mountain side vanished. It was a frustrating deal, every time we would get a fog free window, I couldn’t relocate him. We played peek and boo trying to relocate him each time the fog would provide a window. Finally, the fog broke free long enough to locate him and Colleen was quickly back on him. Colleen pulled the trigger and he stumbled down the steep hillside to his final resting spot. There was definitely no ground shrinkage on this bad boy. We both knew he something special as we walked up on him. We got him back to camp about 20 minutes too late and got soaked by rain one last time at the end of our walk back. We stayed in the tent most of the rest of day Saturday, pigging out on Mt House and goodies to cut weight for the pack out! The next day we took our time, and headed out late morning. The hike out pushed almost 4 hours and our packs weighed in at 99 plus for me and 49 and change for Colleen. We weighed when we finally got home Saturday afternoon. It was a total success and I will be paying more attention to wind direction during tent placement regardless of predicted wind speeds!



As he lay when we walked up on him! We were both ecstatic to see him up close for the first time.



I had a couple friends with tags for the same hunt. On Sunday, I went out with Larry who I have helped in the past. We didn’t turn up much, only a couple very small bucks and Larry opted to pass on that day. The next weekend I drove out Friday to lend a hand to my friend Chris and his wife Alicia. She had just recently taken an interest, and this was Chris’ first hunt with his wife along. He was really wanting to fill this tag, and have his wife be a part of it all. They didn't turn and bucks up Friday morning and I rolled in just after lunchtime to their campsite. Friday night was windy and offered up almost no deer to look at. Saturday morning we made a short hike into a foot access only area and what a morning it turned out to be. The hills seemed to be alive. I couldn’t put my glass on a hillside without finding deer. It wasn’t long until I had glassed up a couple bucks. Chris and Alicia watched these guys and I kept glassing hoping to find a big boy. Late morning when the action slowed, Chris was still watching the two bucks. As soon as they bedded, it was obvious where Chris needed to get to for the shot. Chris and Alicia moved in to try and take the bigger of the two bucks. After they were in position and glassed up the bedded bucks, he was able to shoot it out of his bed and punched his tag with his wife by his side. I know this was a special deal to be a part of.  Chris was a happy camper for sure and so was I. Alicia mentioned, shortly after pictures she was now interested in going rifle deer hunting. I'm stoked for these guys, hunting together will only add to the great marriage they already have I'm sure. 





I was back on the road headed home by a little after lunchtime Saturday. The drive was about two hours to get home and I let Larry know I was good to go for Sunday morning to hunt with him again. Sunday we headed out in hopes of getting a buck on the ground. It was Larry and I, accompanied by my wife Colleen. Pretty crazy, we set up in grey light after a short hike and as I was focusing my binos I realized I had deer already in the glass. Not seconds later, I realized I had a nice 3x in the glass. Comical, you gotta love that. Colleen and Larry didn’t even believe me, surely I was just talking trash as they were setting up their tripods! Their skepticism quickly faded as I got them on the buck I had found. Colleen stayed back and Larry and I quickly moved in. The mouth of the canyon was narrow and steep. We had a very had time getting into position and it just took too long to try and make it happen. Colleen glassed up her first lion while keeping tabs on the buck, but it was on the move and as quick as she found it, it vanished. No shot opportunity for Larry as the buck topped over while we were attempting to get set up for the shot. The afternoon hunt was just Larry and I, Colleen headed home after we hiked out. Larry and I went into a spot blind, basically just a good-looking knoll I’ve wanted to glass from in the past, but hadn’t gotten up there yet. We set up a little early, about 2 we were glassing again. I found a spike at the top of the mountain up feeding. We had a few chuckles about how far he was and then we were back glassing again. Shortly after, I got very lucky and glassed up a small 3x as he was up for a quick mid-day stretch. Wasn't but a few minutes and he bedded back down. Larry asked if I was willing to climb up there. I was like really…..? I’m always up for a mountain climbing/go kill a buck adventure. We loaded up and starting hiking, first across the canyon and then straight up the ridge. We got into position about 400 yards from the buck, but unfortunately there was no way to see him. We sat with uncertainty in hopes he would step out in our favor. I was confident he would want to bask in the sun come end of day. Around 4:45 or so, Larry caught movement, an ocotillo was shaking and moving around. Larry put me on the ocotillo and there was no doubt in my mind it was his buck thrashing that ocotillo. It took a while, but his buck finally made the last steps, his last mistake to come just a touch more our direction and grab that last bit of sun to bask in. He moved slightly down and towards us. As Larry followed him in the scope, he elevated the butt of the gun and as a result, he lost the rock solid rest we had set up for the shot. He missed and then the buck moved only about 20 yards. Larry got back on him, but he missed again. I asked him what was wrong and he simply responded “I’m shaking and I can’t get steady”. The buck fever is REAL! Unbelievably, the buck only ran 20 or so more yards and froze. I re-ranged and had Larry adjust the turret. The buck was very alert and upset, frozen behind a sparse ocotillo. Somehow even through a moment of panic, Larry realized his mistakes and slid his freehand under the butt and regained his composure to get a third and final attempt at killing this buck. I knew this buck was going to blow out any second, but Larry had the time he needed and put a perfect shot on him. The buck took only a step after impact, getting woozy and toppling over shortly after the shot. Jubilation ensued, Larry just shot a final hour buck to close the hunt. The celebration was memorable,  after putting us on edge with two misses before the kill shot. We hustled to the buck quickly as I wanted to put our hands on him before it got dark so we didn’t lose track of where he was. Larry was thrilled and his excitement was my excitement as well.




Helping family and friends on their hunts is so rewarding. There really isn’t much I’d rather do then spend days a field with my friends and my family in pursuit of the Grey Ghost. I tried my best to keep the stories short, I hope everyone enjoys the pics and stories. 

A little more eye candy for The CWT.com Crew, The Ward Gang headed out to a different unit for Rachel's hunt the same time I was helping my son-in-law Alex on his hunt. After Aaron whacked his deer Friday night, they took Saturday off and headed down South for Rachel's hunt on Sunday. Aaron returned the favor for his sister Rachel Sunday morning and glassed up this hog buck! The Ward Gang was on fire this year. To top it off, Rachel and her dad Harvey ended up needing to get in close just like on Aaron's buck. She took the shot from about 115 yards out and drilled him. Rachel was nice enough to give me permission to post a picture her buck. This is definitely a buck everyone can enjoy looking at, what a beast. 



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WOW.... awesome year hunting these beloved deer.  Its great you help out so many and get to share in all the fun. I often go back on forth if I enjoy going on other's hunt or like to hunt myself.  Colleen buck is stud! 


Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed reading it and see the pictures. 

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Those are some great bucks!  That's a lot of time in the woods!!!!

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You have the golden hand!!!  You are more then welcome to come on my hunts :).  As for spending to much time doing it, I say if you are bonding more time with family and friends because of it that is the best gift you can have.  Sadly Ive met hunters who actually quit their jobs because they couldnt get time off to go on their deer hunt.  Mean while wife and kids are at home and dad quit his job so he can do what he wants and not provide for the family.  Plus they didnt hunt.  Thats to far for me.  But man oh man if you have the family on board what a door it opens up for you and  to spend awesome time together.  Congrats on awesome bucks and to your kids, friends, and wifes huge buck!!

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 Thanks for the great write up and pictures. Fantastic that you are helping others and the excitement sure shows in their smiles. Just a great performance all around.

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