First Coues- Lucky 100"

Turkeygetpwnd38

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 11, 2017
Messages
552
Location
Florida
I've been meaning to write something up about my first coues hunt for a while now, it's a pretty cool story, not sure i'll get to it all in one day but hope you enjoy.

I am not a lucky person as far as random odds go. I've never won anything in my life, I'm talking not even a pencil at a book fair in grade school when everyone is supposed to win. You can imagine my surprise in July when I checked my bank account and saw a charge for $300 from AZ game and fish. I only applied for 2 long shots, 13b archery and a late December coues unit with 2-5% odds, so either way, I knew I would be happy. It was my first real "trophy" tag, anything before had always been OTC or 1-2 point draw units. I had a busy and successful season but the entire time this tag was in the back of my mind. The hunt was going to be even more special because my wife was getting to come along. We left the day after Christmas to hunt the last 5 days of season and left our 1 year old to hang out with the grand parents.

Day One:
The hunt started like just about every single hunt I go on does, a scramble. I live in FL and almost all hunts I go on, when I get there, I am stepping foot there for the first time. I had spent a good amount of time going over OnX and google earth scouting, but what I hadn't planned on was the 5 days straight of rain they had gotten, in the desert! The three main access roads to the areas I wanted to get were so mucked up, my rental vehicle didn't stand a chance. We didn't panic, I just pulled up onx and found a few areas off paved roads where we could walk in a ways. I picked one, we parked, and got ready to start walking about the same time the snow/sleet/rain mix started and the fog rolled in. They decided they would stay with us the duration of the day. We did a 6 mile loop, during which my wife got intimately acquainted with what we call gumbo. I have to hand it to her, she was a trooper, she got thrown straight into the deep end and didn't complain once. She spent the day getting beat on by sleet, climbing up and down canyons, and trying to scrap off the mud her now 10lbs boots on rocks as she passed by. I found myself laughing a lot and explaining that this was a good thing, you have to suffer first before the hunting gets good, and we were getting the suffering taken care of up front. Six miles, up and down, lots of glassing, wet and muddy, no deer. We headed back to the airbnb to make a plan for the next day.
IMG_3099-2.jpg
IMG_3098.jpg
IMG_3097-2.jpg
IMG_3096-2.jpg
 
OP
Turkeygetpwnd38

Turkeygetpwnd38

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 11, 2017
Messages
552
Location
Florida
Day 2:
I spent the majority of the night looking for other areas. The plan was to gain a little elevation, hoping that it would be cold enough that the ground would freeze up a bit and hiking wouldn't be so bad. We got to the trail head before first light and could see there was snow on the ground, but we couldn't quite tell how much. We get up to a high point as it was getting light and I realize we are too high. There is a lot more snow on the ground than I expected, but the wife is loving it. There is something about the high desert covered in snow, she had never experienced it and was in a winter wonderland. We stay up there for the majority of the day "hunting". I was aware the odds of finding what we were looking for were slim to none, but she was having a great time so we hiked a 4 mile loop with some sitting/glassing breaks. It was gorgeous country and worth the time for sure. About mid day we come back down in search of somewhere for an evening hunt. We find a drainage/canyon that looks very promising and sit tight for the evening. After about 4 hrs of glassing, we turned up no deer and lost light. Looking back, the deer were probably there, we just didn't see them. They don't call them the grey ghost for nothing.
IMG_3101.jpg
IMG_3102.jpg
IMG_3103.jpg
IMG_3104.jpg
IMG_3105.jpg
 
OP
Turkeygetpwnd38

Turkeygetpwnd38

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 11, 2017
Messages
552
Location
Florida
Day 3:
The next morning we start back at the same glassing point we ended at the night before. It was a good looking spot that I knew had to hold deer. We get there before light and glass till about 11am. Nothing. I think I am doing everything right. I am hitting the spots where the sun hits first, peaking into the shady brush on the edges, and after the sun is up for a few hours, swapping to the sheltered N pockets. Jay Scott would be proud. As the day progresses, we work down a ridge where me and a bull had a humorous stand off. I was pretty sure it was going to end in me paying a farmer some money and packing more meat than expected back home, but all ended semi peacefully after rock assault. We get back to the truck, eat some lunch, and decided to try some different country. We had been focusing on canyons, so decided to give some rolling foot hills a shot. We end up in a pretty good looking area, there was a lot of sign, but really couldn't find a great vantage point. We glassed over what we could of the hills that evening and the only thing we found was a nap. I was starting to feel the pressure by this point, two days left, laid eyes on zero deer, possibly once in a lifetime tag, it was all reeling through my head. I didn't get much sleep that night, but things would start to look up for us tomorrow.
IMG_3112.jpg
IMG_3113.jpg
 
OP
Turkeygetpwnd38

Turkeygetpwnd38

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 11, 2017
Messages
552
Location
Florida
Day 4:
We were sitting on a particularly good glassing spot about 30 minutes before light. We had driven past this area 3 or 4 times, but I was hesitant to spend time their because access was very easy. I had burned through plans A-W, so had nothing to loose. About the time it started getting light, another truck pulled in. A hunter came and set up glassing about 150 yards from us. I was a little irritated, but being public land and all, not much I could do. The sun started to come up and hit the canyon sides. I was glassing all the high probability areas quickly hoping to catch early movement and about the time I was questioning whether these deer even existed, I found one! I could not of been more excited to find a 70lbs doe bedded on a cliff face. I did not dare take my eyes off it and spent the next 2 hrs trying to walk my wife into it unsuccessfully (first picture is of the deer bedded, not the easiest to find). Also during those 2 hrs, five more trucks pulled into the trailhead. After the first three, I stopped being angry and was just laughing. We were surrounded! I tried to ignore all the other people and continued to watch the doe as she left her bed and made her way to the bottom of the canyon. She ended up leading me into a group of four other does and two smaller bucks. I had renewed hope and now that I knew what these things looked like at distance through the glass, I was picking them off everywhere. We spent 12 hrs that day glassing with no breaks, even forgetting to eat for most of the day. Around two o'clock I spotted a really nice deer chasing a doe on a mesa about a mile and a half away. I knew it was a good deer because it looked like a southern whitetail 8 point that would be hard to pass on. The only route to him was going to be a nightmare. A 3 mile one way trip with +/- 2000 ft of elevation change and a high water river crossing. There was no way to get to him that day, so spend the rest of the day glassing finding deer, but nothing of his caliber.
We start heading out and end up bumping into the guy that came in shortly after us. He is a really nice older fellow, a local, and informs us all the other people there were glassing for him, he was the only tag holder. We had a good conversation with him, even after informing him we were from Florida, he was nothing but nice. That meant a lot considering most of my hunts are out of state and the typical reaction I get is less than friendly, sometimes even hostile. I start to feel a little guilty for being angered by him coming in, we tell him we plan on coming in the morning for the last day and he says, "see you then." We did see him the next day and some crazy things happened.
IMG_3122.jpg
First coues deer spotted
 
OP
Turkeygetpwnd38

Turkeygetpwnd38

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 11, 2017
Messages
552
Location
Florida
Day 5:
Needless to say, I did not get much sleep that night. It was the last day of the season and we had a plan. I knew getting to that buck was going to be a nightmare. I tried to talk my wife into taking a rest day, but she insisted on seeing it through. The plan was to sit for the first hr or so of light as see if we could find something closer. After it got good and light, we would drop off the canyon face about 400 vertical feet, try to find somewhere to safely cross the river, climb back up a canyon opposite the mesa to try and glass in, then make a move. I knew the buck would likely still be on the mesa, he had bred a doe on top that evening and bedded down with her.
We got there about 30 minutes before light and set up on our glassing knob. Right at light, our buddy, Chad, pulls in and sees us, waves, and goes down further to look in another direction. After a hour passed, we hadn't seen any deer. I start shedding layers and weight to try to lighten the load for the upcoming trek and BOOM, a shot rings out from our left. I knew it was Chad and I was immediately excited for him. The night before, he had told me he waited ten years for this tag and would only shoot a real trophy. We decide to wait a bit to keep from pushing anything he'd shot. Another 5 minutes go by and BOOM, another shot. A few minutes later, another one. At this point, I am laughing to myself. I tell my wife I am going to check on him to make sure he isn't getting ambushed and in need of reinforcements. I figure he has the deer down by now, I can see if he needs any help, I'd like to see the monster he got, and it is towards a better glassing point to see into the mesa the big buck is in. I leave my wife on our glassing point, tell her to find us a closer deer so we don't have to kill ourself getting to the other one and start walking over.
I knew where he would be glassing and about half way there I hear another shot. I assume he got to the deer and had to finish it off because it had been 10-15 min since the last shot. I get to the glassing knob, set up my tripod and start looking into the canyon bottom for him. I can't seem to find him anywhere so I start glassing towards the mesa figuring he would pop up at some point. As I'm glassing, clear as day someone says, "Austin..... Austin!". I just about jump out of my skin. I thought God was calling my name or something, I was sure I was alone on the point. I start walking around and realize that Chad is about 15 yards to my left hunkered into some rocks behind some mesquite bushes. He is locked behind his binoculars and asks without looking away if I have my rifle. I tell him I do, I brought it assuming he was getting attacked by something and needed back up. He then tells me to come over here and shoot this deer. I didn't really comprehend it at first and just kind of laughed. He then tells me again to get down here and shoot this deer. I go over and go prone on the rocks, get pointed in the general direction he is facing, all the while continually repeating, "are you sure about this? are you sure about this?" Chad tells me that this deer needs to die today, he has missed it 4 times and I'm up. Over the next 5 minutes or so he is trying to walk me into this deer. The buck has a lot of does with him, they are in the bottom of a nasty scrubby canyon and its chaos trying to find a reference point and the right deer. I am trying to range, dial, and keep the deer in the crosshairs. He steps out briefly and I shoot, Chad calls out, "over his back." In trying to range in the thick brush, I had dialed too far. The deer actually ended up coming closer, about 250. We see the buck dip into a ditch behind the closest thing to a tree down there. I get a good range, redial, readjust my position a bit, and get ready for hopefully another chance. This deer had been shot at 5 times now and probably 5 minutes go by, which feels like hrs. We are starting to think he gave us the slip and it's over. Then, a doe runs out from behind the tree, I get ready and level my crosshairs where she came out. He steps out and I get to see all of him for the first time. I see dark horns and mass, I squeeze the trigger before I can really comprehend anything else and Chad yells hit. The deer scrambles and I take another shot just in case. I lost track of the deer after that but he assured me it was a good hit right behind the shoulder and thinks it piled up behind a mesquite tree.
I stand up still trying to process everything that just happened, Chad is grinning ear to ear and gives me a hug and shakes my hand, he says, "man that sure is a thumper down there", and now there is another guy standing behind me congratulating me. I have no idea who this person is or how long he had been there. It turns out he was Chad's friend, he was coming in late to help him glass, gets to the point and sees me (a complete stranger) laying prone with a rifle, hears Chad's voice talking but cannot see him, and then I start shooting at something, he had no idea what to think of the situation. Chad fills him in while I go get my wife at the other glassing point. She has no idea what is going on, just that I left, time passed and a more shooting started happening. I tell her what happened, she couldn't be more happy, we pack everything up and head back to the other guys. Chad insists that we go down first and then wave him down when we are ready, he will keep eyes on the bush we last saw him and give us directions if need be. We have no problem finding the deer, walking up on it, I couldn't believe that it had happened, how it happened, and the caliber of deer that it was. My wife was thrilled and said she knew we would get one, but had no idea it was going to be one this big. We wave Chad down, share 10-15 minutes admiring the deer, laughing about the story, and taking pictures. I keep telling him I cannot believe you let me shoot this deer. Thank you. He responds by saying something like, "I had my chance, four actually, that deer needed to be killed. I was thinking last night I hope I run into the Floridians again and they get a deer, now you have one, can't take him back." I get him processed and packed out. Chad offered to help pack him out but I insisted I needed to do at least some work. We get him back to the truck, admire the deer some more, talk for 30-40 minutes reliving how it went down, exchange information and go our separate ways.
I'll always remember this hunt as one of my favorite hunting memories. I got to experience it with my wife and she got to see a glimpse into why I am away all the time doing it. She told me she gets it now, there isn't much else like it. We met some amazing folks. I still can't believe someone who waited 10 years to pull a tag would give me, a nonresident and stranger who drew the tag in the random pool with 2 points, a chance at a buck of a lifetime. I still talk to Chad and hope to repay the favor one day and even though we met for a few hrs over two days, I consider him a close friend. If he called and needed something, i'd been on a plane the next day. It's crazy how hunting can create deep bonds in short amounts of time. It also reminds that we are all hunters, give folks to benefit of the doubt. Instead of getting mad and cursing if someone is in your spot or walks into the basin you are hunting, go talk to them, more than likely they are great folks and y'all can help each other out.
IMG_3128.jpg
IMG_3130.jpg
IMG_3131.jpg
IMG_3135.jpg
IMG_3132.jpg
IMG_3133.jpg
 
Top