Coues deer hunt equals a lifetime of memories
With enough bonus points accumulated to draw an Arizona Coues deer tag in a decent unit, my nonresident application was submitted with much anticipation. My dad asked if I wanted to continue to apply for “little-to-no” probability hunt choices or if I wanted to apply for a Coues deer tag that I would almost definitely draw. As a senior in high school, I knew that the following years would be filled with college studies, making it difficult to find time to hunt. The decision to use the bonus points was easy for me.
In 2014, during late December, the Coues deer hunt was starting. Like all dedicated hunters, my dad and I set out to begin scouting and searching for the perfect buck. We would spend the days in Arizona glassing, riding, hiking and enjoying being outside admiring God’s creations. We did not make the opening weekend of the hunt because we planned to spend Christmas with family in Mesa, Arizona before heading to the unit for the final week of the season.
Prior to leaving for the trip, our neighbor, Nate, got us in touch with his friend, Tom, who knew the unit very well and had success there over the years. Tom actually took time to meet us in the desert to show us a great area to hunt. Tom and his brother were great! They even knew the local place in town that made incredible burritos and bought some early that morning to take to the field. The burritos were awesome!
We enjoyed our time glassing different bucks that were starting to show signs of rut. The brush and growth was thick, but the Coues deer were visible as they moved to search for does and feed. In addition to the deer, there were some gorgeous sunsets and sunrises.
The desert was cold in the early mornings, but would warm up nicely during the days making for a real enjoyable vacation.
My dad’s friend, Darren Choate, and his son, Colton, were also hunting this unit at the same time we were. They were bowhunting and actually staying in the same town as us. We met up for dinner one evening and planned to head out in the morning together to increase our glassing efforts.
Finally, we located the buck that was soon to be in the back of the truck and headed back to Utah with us. Colton glassed him on the move about two miles away. It was morning and the buck was clearly dogging a doe. The plan was set. My dad and I would cross several drainages to get close enough for a shot while our friends stayed on higher ground to keep eyes on the buck.
Hiking through thorny bushes, walking up steep hills in our camouflage, ducking under trees trying to stay hidden, and perspiring from the hot sun was all part of the experience. My dad led the way on the journey ahead of us being cautious to the amount of noise each step would make. We walked what seemed like forever and while we walked, I would look up in the sky to admire the clear blue color and would savor every little gust of wind that cooled us off. Getting my hair stuck in branches and swatting pesky flies seemed to be the only excitement for a while until we reached the final moments of the long hike. Walking up the massive hill and trying to avoid stepping on loose rocks that would tumble down and give away our position became the most difficult part of the adventure. At the top, I knew we were in sight of the deer when my dad whispered and motioned for me to stay low and get set up. My heart was racing and I knew it was time to take the gun that had become so heavy and irritating off of my shoulder.
As I lay low and tried to be silent, I looked through my scope at the creature laying there in the shade under a juniper tree. The doe was up and feeding away from the buck while he lay in his bed unaware of her leaving. As I tried to ready for a shot, the buck was suddenly on his feet and behind a wall of trees searching for the doe. He stood under a new tree for a few moments. My dad’s tone was urgent as he whispered for me to “take the shot when ready,” causing my heart to pound. I snapped my distracted mind back into focus.
Laying there in the Arizona dirt, staring at this buck, I tried to find the ideal moment when I would take the shot. He seemed to know his life was coming to an end because he ran behind a bushel of trees where I could no longer see him. I waited intently to see those antlers that I had studied so seriously. When he walked into a small clearing, I took the shot. I watched him jump from the noise and run up a little ways until he fell and I was confident he was down. When we watched for the movement to stop, we hiked across the drainage to the side of the hill that the buck was on.
Walking around and searching everywhere on that hill for the gray bodied deer was about as hard as finding Waldo, but we traveled downhill and located the blood trail, which made finding the buck a lot easier. When we reached the end of the blood trail, we were there with the fallen deer we had worked so hard to find during that hunt. After a prayer of thanks, pictures and taking care of the animal we made our way to the truck.
I am thankful for the hunting experience and memories made on this hunt because that is what I will always remember. Along with remembering the great hunt this was and the success I had, I will also remember the friendships made and time spent with my dad. It has brought me to appreciate the animals that are on this earth for us to hunt.