Where to Hunt Coues Deer
Coues deer can be hunted throughout their range. Arizona and Mexico offer the most hunting opportunities because most of the Coues deer are found there. New Mexico has a fairly limited number of Coues deer, but they do offer hunts in the southwestern part of the state.
In Arizona and New Mexico, you can hunt public land with or without a guide. But to hunt Mexico, you will be looking at spending quite a bit of money to hire a guide who has rights to hunt on the many private ranches in Mexico. Mexico has some excellent hunting for Coues deer. If you can afford a to do it, I recommend it. Here is a link to an excellent article by Jay Scott discussing the requirements and procedures for hunting in Mexico. This article (reprinted here with permission) was originally published by Western Hunter magazine and Jay Scott Outdoors. Both the magazine and Jay’s blog have some excellent information in them, check out their websites.
In Arizona, Coues deer are found from the southern border with Mexico up to the Mogollon rim. However, the core of their range is in the mountains of southeastern Arizona. Arizona has some vast areas of public land, primarily US Forest Service and BLM land. The Chiricahua, Santa Rita, Galiuro, and Graham mountains are some popular choices for hunting Coues deer.
The map on the left shows the distribution of Coues whitetail in Arizona and is provided courtesy of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The map is from the AGFD publication entitled “General Ecology of Coues White-tailed Deer in the Santa Rita Mountains”. The map doesn’t include Coues on Native American Reservations. The San Carlos and White Mountain reservations have significant Coues populations and are located in the area where Gila, Graham, Navajo and Apache counties meet. Click on the map to see a larger version. The density of deer (deer per square kilometer) in each area is color-coded. You can see that the southeastern part of Arizona has the highest density of Coues deer.
To help you select a unit to hunt, I have also posted the AZ hunt unit maps and the statistics that the Arizona Game and Fish Department provides on hunts and deer surveys conducted in the state. Click on the links below or the buttons on the left side of the page to see the data you want. Use these statistics and maps to help you decide which unit to apply for. Some hunts have 100% draw odds, some are much lower.
Arizona allows you to put in for several hunts. You designate which hunt is your 1st choice, which is your 2nd choice and so on. I usually put in for a tag that I really want for my first and second choice. This may be an early rut hunt in December with low draw odds. Then for my third and fourth choices I put in for one of those units with close to 100% draw odds. That way if I don’t get my first choice, I will get drawn on my later choices. Generally, the units with high draw odds are the October/November pre-rut hunts. Of course those early hunts are not ideal for trophy hunting, but if you know some good areas you can be successful at getting large deer.
Survey Data Links
Hunt Data Links
- Draw odds and hunt success 2001
- Historic archery data – 1952 – 2002
- Juniors-only data 1992-2001
- Muzzleloader data 1984-2001-only data 1992-2001
In Arizona, you can also hunt Coues deer on the 1.8 million acre San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. The San Carlos has some excellent Coues deer hunting with only a small number of permits allowed each year. They have a pre-rut hunt in November and a more expensive rut hunt in January. A few hunts require a guide, but most hunts do not. Tags can be purchased from the San Carlos Recreation and Wildlife Department on a first-come first-served basis. Tags usually become available around the first of January, but these tags sell very quickly. Prices range from $700 to $3000, depending on the unit and date. For the most current hunt regulations and prices, please call the Recreation and Wildlife Department at (928) 475-2343. Only tribal members are allowed to guide on the San Carlos. You can receive a list of licensed guides from the Dept. For hunt success information for the San Carlos Reservation, please click here.
The White Mountain Apache Reservation, located just north of the San Carlos, does not allow non-tribal members to hunt Coues deer. The Tohono O’odham Reservation in southern Arizona also has excellent Coues deer but does not allow non-tribal hunting. The Navajo Reservation in northern Arizona, which has an extensive non-member hunting program, does NOT have any Coues deer.
New Mexico has two subspecies of whitetail, Coues and Texas. Texas whitetail are found in the eastern half of the state and the Coues whitetail is found in the southwestern portion of the state. Units 15A, 16A, 16B, 16C, 16D, 17, 21A, 22, 23, 24, 26, and 27 have Coues. Barry Hale, biologist with NM Game and Fish, suggests that units 23 and 27 are best for hunting. If you need more information on Coues Deer in NM, you might contact Kevin W. Rodden, the SW Area Game Manager for NMGFD. His phone number is (575) 532-2111.
Visit the New Mexico Game and Fish web site for more information about seasons and licenses. Residents and non-residents can purchase licenses online.