“If you are gonna be dumb, you better be tough!!!”

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What an adventure!!!!  I survived but if I was on “Survivor Southwest” I would have been voted off the island!!!!  As many of you know I didn’t draw any fall hunting tags this year so I need to find other options, for years I have been talking about hunting AZ for velvet Coues deer.  Last year I went but it was kind of a bust. I spent 5 days, 12 hours a day straight in a ground blind that didn’t see any action.  It was poor planning on my part.

SOOOO this year the plan was to put in my own work and if I failed at least I would have a good story to tell.  :)  As a general rule, there are a lot more Coues deer in AZ and they can just about be found everywhere. They aren’t in little pockets like they are in NM. So I want to find a place close to home.  Unit 27 in AZ has some good deer and it is close so I figured that would be a good start.  I started talking to people and looking at a few maps just to get familiar with the area and everybody basically said, “Those are  BIG MOUNTAINS”.

If you have hunted the early season before you know that the key is WATER…  This time of year the deer are fattening up and getting ready for the rut.  Also, if they can find a place that has food, shelter and water they really don’t move much.   So with the help of some insiders I picked a few out of the way tanks, springs and tricklers to hang a few cameras.

I selected a path that would let me hang two different cameras.  From the comfort of my nice air conditioned office the route seemed EASY CHEESY!!!   Before you ask, I usually don’t weigh my overnight packs because all I can think of is that I am usually carrying a third grader on my back or about 50lbs and that drives me nuts.  This trip was going to be a little heavier because I was also going to be packing two trail cams, two lock boxes and two Python locks. Oh yah… I needed to pack in extra food for Cisco.

So Cisco and I loaded in the Duramax and headed to AZ.

The forecast for the weekend was dry and hot.

We stopped in Alpine for diesel and a coke before we headed into the backcountry and the lady at the cash register mentioned  that there were a few fires in the area and that we would need to be ready to evacuate very quickly.  If you live are familiar with the SW the fear of fire is always present so we just said “thanks” and headed out.

After finding a safe place to park we loaded up and headed to the first tank.  Are route took us thru a 3 year old burn and it was tough going because of all the downed trees and the “chingonita’s”… Chingonita’s are those little softball size rocks that make it very difficult to just put pin your ears back and cover country.  Below is a picture of the mine field that I needed to cross.

SOOO We got to the tank!!!!  Sweet JESUS!!!!  It had water, it didn’t have a camera on it, it didn’t have a huge salt pile on it and and it had a few game trails leading into it.

Here is a picture of the tank…

So we hung the camera and continued on our route.  This is where things got a little western.  So, Cisco and I bailed off some rim-rock. At first, no big deal this stuff couldn’t go on forever but guess what it did.  I just looked at my GPS and we lost 900 ft of elevation in less than 1/4 of a mile. It was steep and thick.  Here is a picture.

Okay well, we eventually got down…  Even Cisco was tired…

Once we got to the bottom of canyon we headed to our second waypoint.  To make a long story short once we got to the waypoint it was obvious that I was going to run out of time to get to the second tank.  The distance was the issue it was the route, it was just too steep and I didn’t want to get caught on the side of the mountain in the dark.   So Cisco and I started looking for a place to crash for the night.  We found a little flat that was on the bottom of the canyon and that would stay dry if we got one of those freaky monsoon’s.

Below is a picture of our little homestead.

Yeah I know the tent is huge, but my logic was that I will forget about the weight before I forget about the comfort.  I have been stuck in a tent for a few days in Alaska and it is NO FUN….  We we were set for the night.

Our next task was to find a little water for dinner and to stay hydrated.  Our map showed that there was supposed to be an intermittent stream running in a nearby canyon.  So off we went.  After about 30 min of turning rocks and digging in sand I found a nice little pool that held enough water to filter some water.

WATER SWEET WATER!!!!!!!

Now that we had enough water for dinner and the hike out, we need to make GRUB.  Okay I must admit, food is always better in the backcountry.  I am not sure if it is because the food is acutally better or if that I am usually ravenous and will wolf down just about anything.  So what was on the menu?  Well Cisco and I shared some Chicken Stew… MMM GOOOODDD  STUFFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After dinner Cisco and I just chilled and watched the world pass us by.  Once the lights went out I crashed out pretty hard but Cisco stayed out a little later and partook in some of the nightlife.  He ran around until 3:00 am then he crashed in the tent.

For breakfast we had some milk and granola…    I couldn’t find a bowl for Cisco so I just poured a little food on a rock…. He didn’t seem to mind.

Now that all the housekeeping was done Cisco and I needed to get out of the mountains.

This is the where the “Tough” part comes in, “we” decided to take a different route back to the rig.  The only issue is that we would need to crawl straight up a mountain.  Of course looking at the map it was no big deal, but once we hit the point of NO RETURN it looked like we might need to be TOUGHER than usual.

We gained about 1000 feet in elevation in a 1/4 of a mile… It was rough…. But we did it…

Cisco was pretty much GASSED… I am just glad I didn’t have to carry him out… :)

After we got up the mountain it was just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other for three miles….  No Big Deal…

Here is a picture of Cisco waiting to get on the road.

Needless to say it was a great trip… I just hope my camera picks something.

See you on the trail!!!

Jason