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Approaching Sky-Island Late OTC with time, physicality, and western bowhunting experience but none of it with Coues Deer

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Hey everyone! This is my first post in this forum, but I've really appreciated being able to read all the historical posts in here. Truly a wealth of knowledge amongst all the members. I’m new to Coues, but with experience, I’ll be sure to re-pay with my own contributions.

I think my extended schedule will leave me free and clear to spend the whole month of January in Arizona with the otc archery tag in my pocket. This hunt might be my last of the upcoming year, but I'm already exciting for it. 

After researching, a few questions have formed in my mind: 

1.    Biggest things that a novice to Coues and sky-islands ecosystems but otherwise a decently experienced bowhunter and backpacker would benefit from knowing.
2.    Recommendations for structuring where/how a person with an otc tag and all the time free should spending time over the duration of the month. Pick one area and go deep down the single well with it and know each blade of grass? Cover country then dig in to a place I like only after having seen more? Find a few strong doe groups and move on to find more others, building up a database to check back for bucks later in the month? Just pick the places that look like fun to backpack into and spend 4-5 days, then move from plan A – F like so? Zoomed out strategy stuff like that. Or, how would you approach the full hunt if you had all the time free and a strong backpacking ability?
3.    Thoughts on how to mentally and physically approach stalking Coues deer during the rut. 
4.    Glassing and optics tips -  I currently use 8x42 Vortex Diamondback and a Vanguard Endeavor 15-45x65 spotter with SLIK Sprint Pro II – currently have a ball head, I’m looking to get a lightweight fluid head for filming. If I don't upgrade the binos before then, on 1 to 10 scale, how badly will I wish I had?

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Listen to the Jay Scott Podcast.  567: AZ Unit Breakdown for Mule Deer and Coues Deer with Duwane Adams.  Great info.

16 minutes ago, eastvalleyjerry said:

Just go look for deer and try to shoot one....

This is what I did in January during my first Coues deer hunt.  Great advice.

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1. Dont assume that you won't run into a rattle snake. Have a plan in place for if crap goes wrong, it's real easy to slip and hurt yourself in Coues country.  A Garmin In Reach could save your life. Be prepared for temp extremes, can get hot during the day and cold at night.

2. I'd shoot for a southern unit. The ideal scenario for getting on a buck isn't picking a huge canyon. For archery the big canyons have long ridges that break down into smaller canyons and fingers.  I think those outer fingers would be better to start with.  Finding does is a good idea but may not be reliable  until mid january when the rut starts going strong.  

3. Understand thermal currents and how they work. Glass your buck early, wait until he beds and come in from on top of him because thermals by that time should be going uphill.  Read threads on glassing, the how, where, when and why.

4. Imo, having a lightweight tripod is almost as or even more important then the glass.  I'm assuming you know you should be glassing with your binos on the tripod. 8 power is a bit week. Keep in mind most typical glassing scenarios will put you 200-300 yards away from the deer as your minimum.  My typical glassing range with 15s is 300-800 yards.  I think you should have 10 power minimum. Although 15s are the standard 12s are getting more and more popular but for the most part its the high end 12s. The 8s are perfect for the stalk but not for glassing them up from a distance. Id seriosly consider looking into quality 10s or 12s.  On the cheap range I'd say vortex vultures or viper as a minimum for glassing off the tripod.  For what you can get viper 12s or 15s for they offer a lot of bang for the buck and they are pretty darn lightweight.  If you can afford expensive there's a whole bunch of good options out there.  

Good luck

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