Wow…. What a crazy year…. In years past I had always had a brown is down mentality. I guess I didn’t have the confidence that I would be able to find multiple bucks. Well, this year I found a few bucks that “needed to be killed”. So it was them or bust. I will post some pictures later in this post but I want to tell the story first. 🙂
Ok… So the tag, was in Unit 24, my third choice. The season, Jan 1-15. The game, Coues deer. To be specific two Coues Deer; Jordan and Mr. Perfect. Jordan earned his name by having a rack look like a basketball rim, the tips almost touched and Mr.Perfect earned his name because every time I picked him up on camera he always gave me the perfect picture. Mr. Perfect is probably about 95 inches and Jordan is pushing 105. Remember P & Y is 65 inches on these little guys. So these two guys were definitely holding out for. I have only seen bucks like this in Mexico.
This year I hung my trail cams later in the year and I focused on travel corridors rather than water. I really think this paid off, the issue with hanging cameras on water is that you are only see the bucks that are using that particular water source. If you have a monster buck that is drinking from a spring that you don’t know about then you are never going to pick him up. The only way you will get a look at these bucks is by getting them as they go about there daily business. I also think that it is really important to move cameras ALOT. I think it keeps your scent dispersed and I think that you will pick up deer that don’t walk right in front of you cameras. Anyway it is something that you might want to consider. Also, if you are hunting the rut try and find an area that holds a number of different does. These does will “Chum In” other bucks.
So what did my two spots look like? Well, one of them was a little flat at the end of an old logging road. Every year bucks scrape in this little area that is probably 100 sq/ft. The other was on a long ridge. The long ridge is a new spot and I am still trying to figure it out but everyday I sat that spot something came thru. Both spots take about are about a 45 min drive then a 10 min 4 wheeler ride then a 30 min hike to get into. This year the late snow really messed-up the snow and the hunting. It was really dicey getting out of town. There were a few times when I just didn’t know if it was worth risking in. This might sound strange but I think one of the other keys is that there isn’t a lot of mulies or mule deer hunters in the areas that I am chasing bucks. I really think it leads to less foot traffic.
Okay… So here is a picture of Mr. Perfect…
As you can see from the picture he was in some really thick stuff. In years past I have either hunted water or sat a scrape. This year I really pushed the deer hard and I got into their bedding area. This spot didn’t have a ton of action during the hunt but I was able to consistently have shot opportunities on a goofy 2×2 and a busted up 2×3. I let them both walk.
NOW what about JORDAN!!!! AKA… The GOAT! Or Greatest Of All Time… Well here is his mug.
You can’t see his G-2 on the right side but he is completely symmetrical. This is the biggest hard-horned buck I have ever picked up on camera. This is the kind of buck that dreams are made of. Man, he is a monster!!! I also have a picture of a buck that looks to be his son or at least a buck that shares his same genetics. At first I thought it was the same buck buck after looking at the pic a little bit I am convinced that I have two different bucks with the same frame.
I have killed a few Coues deer so I am looking for something special and lets face it, if I was truly a meat hunter it would be a lot cheaper to go down to the local butcher.
So did I get my shot at either of these bucks? Nope, I saw a total of 7 bucks with the largest being in the mid-80 but I held off waiting for one of these guys to show up.
So, where does this leave me? Well, I am pretty excited about next year. NOW that I have these guys located I need to figure out how they are moving. They say that as Coues deer get older there home range becomes smaller. I am about to see if that is true. I don’t care if I have to hang a camera on every tree I am going to find these guys again. The good news is that next year if I can draw a tag in this unit that I will be able to hunt the Fall and Winter.
So was it a good year? Yeah, I had shot opportunities AND I found a true monster. That is all I can ask for…
Well, tag soup in Arizona. Okay,some background… The unit that I had hunted earlier in the season was closed in December so I had to find something in the southern part of the state to hunt. Thank God, I have a good buddy in Tucson that helped me out with some good spots. So, I left the pines behind and headed for the desert. This was going to be totally different. In the desert there really aren’t any funnels or travel corridors, everything is basically flat.
So you are basically left with two options; sit water and let them come to you or spot and stalk. Well, we had setup some cameras and we were getting one buck coming into a tank during the night but the does were coming in during the day. The hope was that these does would eventually have a buck in-tow. Well, it hadn’t rained for 3 months… Until I showed up. Either way I was seeing does and a few stink pigs.. BUT then the Mule Deer Gods started tempting me. As you know I am trying to finish my Coues Slam with a Coues Deer in AZ. SOOOOO I am really holding out for a Coues but then this guy showed up… UGH!!! I have never seen a Mulie like this on the hoof. Man, he is nice…. I have never been worked up over a mulie like this before… His body size is just something that I am not used to, DANG!!! SOOO, What happened.. Well, I spent the next few days glassing and following does hoping that he would show up. NOTHING!!!! But you never know it could have happened…
Sooo… it was a great season. I learned a ton about different country and I am ready to get back at it.
I have been in AZ trying to get a Coues Deer killed but it has been a little slow!!!! I am seeing does but no bucks. Basically, I want to be one of the few people that has killed a Coues Deer in MX, NM and AZ… The country is much different than the pines that I am used to hunting in NM… This area is true desert… I think the elevation is between 3 and 4 thousand feet…. The rough thing about the country that I am hunting is that these Coues Deer have Mule Deer tendencies, in that they are not that pattern-able. This country really don’t have the typical funnels. Oh well, I am sure Geronimo didn’t complain, he just hunted…. So that is what I have to do… Put My time in. I feel kind of bad because I feel that I should be scouting in NM a little more but it is what it it… This year I am going to skip ATA so I have a few more days to hunt…
SOOO How am I hunting??? Well, doing a little spot and stalk and a ton of sitting water. I have a theory on hunting Coues Deer during the rut. During this time of year you can glass up a ton of deer and even get a few stalks in… BUT because they are chasing does or looking for does they are really hard to get on. You need to get them to come to you… That means travel corridors, calls or water.
Anyway…. This is one of the bucks that I am trying to get killed one thing that I find interesting about this big 3×2 are his hocks… Notice that they are as clean as can be. Also his neck isn’t very swollen. I am not sure about these low-land Coues Deer but he just doesn’t show any signs of being “Rutty”… I am not sure what that is about…
Keep your fingers crossed… I just need a shot… that is all I ask..
Wow… What a few days. So I finally made it back to AZ, the plan was to see what the deer were doing this time of year and hunt like a madman. If you have hunted any whitetails before then you have heard that this time of year they living the high-life. Eating, Drinking, Sleeping. Well, this year we have gotten a ton of rain so there was Food, Water and Bedding EVERYWHERE…
Well how about some Food!!!!
Look at this nice plump acorns…
Man this is my favorite time of the year to munch on them…. I picked about 2.5 Gallons… I am not sure what I am going to do with them yet but they sure are good. I was given a few links to make Acorn Meal out of them and use them in stuff like Pancakes, Oat Meal and as a kind of floor.
Anyway, since watching shows like Survivorman and Dual Survival everything now looks like food… 🙂
And Water, We have had a really good Monsoon Season…
Okay so these deer were living the High-Life… I was expecting that Black dude from the Miller High-Life commercial to bring a case of beer to my pop-up blind.
So what happened, Well if you want the Cliff Notes… 20 Mule Deer Does, 4 Mule Deer Bucks, 3 Coues Does, 0 Coues Bucks, 50 Elk and about 40 Turkeys.
If you want the Hunters Version, here is goes. As I said before, in AZ you can bait but the issue is that there is SO much feed everywhere these deer have all the food they need. Sitting water is out of the question because of all the rain and bedding, well there is cover area. A mature Coues Deer buck will spend his entire year in a 1 square mile area and as they get older that area shrinks. The good thing is that once you have found them they you can come up with a plan. The bad part is that you need to find them.
Needless to say I think I have found a spot that I really think has potential to put out a MONSTER!!! This area is remote and hard to get into and out of… If nothing else this was a great scouting trip. This unit will not be open in December but it will be open in January… So the plan is to hang a few camera’s in along some funnels and try and find a BEAST!!!!
So while I didn’t kill anything on this trip I think I have set myself up for some late season success. SOO Stay Tuned!!!!!!
Hmm… Where to start??? Well, the hunt started with rain, and ended with rain… The area that I am focusing on has a nice tank but right now sitting that tank would just be a waste of time. Coues deer barely drink to start with but with this much rain these deer are drinking out of every little dip in the dirt.
Unlike in NM, in AZ it is legal to bait deer. It is what it is… Those are just the rules of the game in AZ and believe me, my eyes have really been opened over the last few months. Just about every ridge that I have seen has some sort of mineral lick. If the hunters don’t get the deer they are certainly going to die of heart disease. Another thing that is different in AZ is that even though you draw a rifle tag you can still hunt the archery season. If you happen to kill during the archery season than you forfeit your rifle tag. I guess the cool thing is that hunters are given more days afield, the bad thing is that you have EVERYBODY hunting during the archery season. I have never seen soooooo many people cruising the roads looking for deer and coming from NM that means A LOT.
So the plan was to sit in a travel corridor and and get a shot a buck. Pretty easy right. Well the problem is that with this much feed and water these deer don’t need to move. I am hoping that the pressure from other hunters will get these deer moving.
So… Who is on the hit list? I have picked up a few different deer in the area but nothing exciting.. But if this guys comes thru we are gonna have some words… 🙂
He probably goes mid-80’s. Nothing to wild but he is definitely a mature buck.
Oh yah… I am still being chased by bears… Man, I have seen more bears this year than I have EVER seen…
Anyway, stay tuned… I am going to try and make it out again next week.
Oh yah, in a day and a half of hunting…. Two Does… 🙂