Desert Bull Scouting and Map Services
When most hunters think of western deer hunting, they often conjure up visions of wide racked Mule Deer bucks feeding on Sage brush out on the open prairie or a river bottom Whitetail buck, sneaking into an alfalfa field during the last minute of shooting light. Or maybe they envision a coastal Blacktail in the rainforest jungles of Oregon or a Sitka Blacktail in the wilderness of southeast Alaska.
These deer hunts are all worthy of our attention and make great trophies and wonderful experiences. But, I think I have a hunt for you that is equally exciting, very challenging, and more affordable than most western hunting. Arizona Coues Deer!
Coues Deer, most often pronounced as “cooze” but the correct way is “cows”, are a sub-species of Whitetailed deer that inhabit the desert southwest. They are tiny deer, rarely dressing out much more than 120 lbs. They prefer to live at altitudes above 4,000 ft.
These “sky islands”, as they are known here in Arizona, receive more annual precipitation than the lower desert and provide relief from the scorching temperatures in the desert. Because of their preference for rugged and remote canyons, Coues hunting is often referred to as “poor man’s sheep hunting.”
The mountain ranges of southern Arizona possess the majority of Coues habitat. The Rincon, Santa Rita, Catalina, Dragoon, Winchester, and Chiricahua mountains all have very good populations of Coues Whitetail.
Central Arizona also has good Coues hunting. The Superstition, Mazatzal, and Sierra Anchas mountains provide good hunting for Coues Deer.
By far, the most popular and effective way to
hunt these deer is by spot and stalk methods.
Most serious Coues hunters have invested in the finest and most powerful optics that they can afford. High power binoculars from Zeiss, Swarovski, Pentax, Doctor, Steiner, etc are all good choices.
The secret to success however is mounting these big glasses to a tripod. Even a cheap pair of yard sale binoculars will be greatly enhanced with the tripod. When you are trying to spot a 30” tall deer that is 1000 yards away, having a steady pair of glasses can make all of the difference in the world.
Knowing how to focus your glasses is also very important. There are many hunters who don’t know how and it results in fewer opportunities.
Most glasses of this caliber have two means of focusing the lenses. The main focusing knob moves BOTH lenses forward and back until you have a clear image. You will also have an eyepiece, almost always the right one, that focuses independently of the left. This is because most people’s have different vision in each of their eyes.
Start by closing your right eye and focusing your glasses on a not too distant object using the main focusing lever or ring. Then close your left eye and use the eyepiece to focus the right view on the same object. When that is complete, open both eyes and you should have a clear and finely focused view.
Check your focus often. It will change on you slightly during your glassing sessions and as the sun changes its angle in the sky.
One technique that is very effective is to change the focus on your glasses slightly in each field of view. If you are glassing a hillside that is a mile away, your field of view will be large. A rock at the bottom of your view might 50 yards closer to you than a bush at the top of your view.
Fine focusing on each item in your view before shifting your glasses could be just the slight advantage you need to distinguish a dead Oak branch from a trophy Coues Deer antler.
Another trick that the experts use is to carry an extra camo shirt or black cloth with them. If you drape this over your head and the back end of the glasses, it cuts down on the stray light coming in around the sides of the eye pieces. This takes a lot of strain off of your eyes and improves the contrast and depth of view.
Another thing you might want to carry with you is a seat pad, like the turkey hunters use. Trying to get comfortable on a rocky, thorny hillside can be difficult. The more comfortable you are while glassing the more effective you will be.
When choosing a rifle, pick the one that you shoot the best. Any center fire rifle will kill a Coues deer, but flat shooting and accurate rifles are best for the long shots you are likely to be presented with.
Popular choices are .270, .280, .300 Winchester Magnum, 7mm Magnum, and .25 /06.
You might ask "Why a magnum for a 100 lb deer?". The magnums are flat shooting and hard hitting at the ranges that Coues Deer typically offer shots.
You can expect shots to average 300 yards and are often much longer. Please don't attempt to shoot farther than you are capable of. These deer are too beautiful to risk wounding and going to waste. Just because you have a "big gun" doesn't make you able to kill at long ranges.
Besides the powerful optics and the flat shooting rifle, there is one more piece of equipment that will prove invaluable. A good laser rangefinder is both effective and morally responsible for the hunter.
Guessing cross canyon ranges is very difficult and when you are trying to put a tiny piece of lead into a 10 inch vital area of a Coues Deer, every little thing helps.
If this sounds like something that you want to try, contact us and we will get you set up to apply for a tag and send you in the right direction for a trophy Coues Deer Buck!