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My First Coues Deer

SCliving Outdoors

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Joined
Feb 9, 2018
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951
Location
South Carolina
A Coues deer has been on my list for a while. They seemed like such cool little deer that lived in unique country. I’ve been applying for Coues in NM with my first 2 choices for a few years now, but I’ve been unsuccessful. While applying in NM I was building points in AZ with the plan of burning them on a Coues hunt. I did my research and picked a unit. I work a some really long days in the 2 weeks leading up to Christmas so I applied for an early December tag in hopes of maybe getting some early pre-rut activity and not to interfere with my busier time at work.

My buddy, Greg lives outside of Phoenix. We hunt together a lot so he agreed to come hunt with me. Neither of us had ever been to the unit. I found a great deal on a flight that would save me a ton of money over driving to AZ and I made my plan. My flight landed at 11pm on Wednesday night. The season opened on Friday. Greg picked me up at the airport that night and we headed back to his place with plans to head out the next morning. Thursday morning we organized our gear and headed towards the boarder.

We arrived in the unit without incident. The road was rough in places, but not unpassable if we went slow. After a little searching we found a good looking spot to camp and set up everything. Around 2pm we left camp to head out and glass for the evening. We didn’t see anything. That was a little disappointing, but overall not a big deal. I jokingly said I’d much rather not see deer scouting before the season opened then during the season.

The hunt would definitely improved…
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Opening morning we got up at 4:45. Had some breakfast and headed up the ridge to a glassing point I had picked. We saw a deer or 2 then weather rolled in. It felt like Alaska. Spitting rain. Fogged in. We’d have a gap for 10 minutes see a few deer when the sun came out then more fog and rain. I didn’t sign up for this in southern AZ. It was definitely whether I wasn’t prepared for or expecting. I’d sit under some brush for an hour not seeing anything then the sun would pop out for 30 minutes and we’d see a deer or 2 followed by more rain and fog. Deer movement was limited.

I sat on the ridge all day and saw 11 deer. No bucks were seen. During one of the clear patches I glassed up a group of coutimundi which was really cool. There were 8-12 of them running all over and fighting. They were 600yds away. I watched them through the spotter. Definitely the highlight of the day. All in all not a great day, but we knew there were deer around. We just had to put the glass time in to find a big buck.
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On day 2 we were up again at the same time and headed up the ridge. The forecast was calling for better weather which was an encouragement. We got to our glassing location and as the sun came up we began to see deer popping up. Doe after doe would appear, but the bucks were no where to be seen. Eventually Greg snuck off around the side of our glassing knob to glass another ridge that wasn’t visible from our location. He came back saying he’d found a buck. I snuck back to his location with him and had a look at the buck. It was a decent buck with 6 points (these are whitetail, right?), but I was hoping for something a little better and we still had plenty of time to hunt.

We found more deer as we continued to glass the rest of the day. We ended up seeing 21 deer, but just the one small buck.

The morning of day 3 was slow. Exhaustingly slow. We went back into the same area full of optimism because of all the deer we’d seen and the buck the day before. We found a little better of a glassing area that would allow us to watch the area where we’d seen the buck to in hopes of more deer. In total we saw 2 deer from daylight to 1pm. Both were small spike bucks. I don’t know what happened but we decided we wanted a change of plans/scenery for the evening hunt.

We picked another ridge that we could see in the distance and looked great on the map. We decided to hike in that evening and boy was it a good choice. The moment we sat down we began to see deer. After about 5 minutes of glassing Greg said “Buck!”. We got the spotters on him to have a better look. He was a nice buck. Another 6 point and better than the last, but I decided to pass again. I was just hoping for something a little better. As soon as he went out of sight I began to have second thoughts. “Am I setting my expectations too high?” I asked myself. I glassed back to that area and the buck was back out with another buck close to the same size and they were trailing a doe. I tried to get the gun set up but there wasn’t really a good spot to shoot for his location. He kept moving away and the shot never presented itself.

We saw 15 deer total in 90 minutes that evening. 2 bucks and 13 does. As we hiked back to the truck that night our expectations were high for the next day. We knew there was atleast 1 decent buck in there and we were hopeful with some glassing the next day we could turn up a shooter.
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This sounds exactly like the dec coues hunt my wife and I went on last year. Tons of does, a small buck. Hopefully yours turned out the same with a nice one that just pops out of no where and bang! It's over just like that.
 
On day 4 we headed back to the same glassing area. We parked our rear ends and first legal light and began to glass. We soon began to pick out deer. Doe after doe with some small bucks mixed in. We’d move around a little bit and check different angles that weren’t visible from our location and we’d pick out a few more animals.

Around 12 Greg decided he was going to take a break and hike back to camp mid day for some food and rest. I told him I was going to stay out all day. Before he left I said we should hike 150yds to our right and see what it looked like on the backside of the adjacent finger hoping it might change our angle and give us a bit more viewing. It was a good choice. I found a flat area great for glassing and shooting and we could see a bit better especially the main ridge we were seeing the majority of the deer. Greg headed back to camp and I parked it in the shade. I saw 5 deer mid day and only one small buck.

Greg got back around 4. At this point we’d seen 27 deer on the day, I think. We began to see more deer pop out here and there. Greg spotted a few does and so did I. Around 4:35 I looked along the top of the ridge about 500yds from us and I saw a deer standing there with its head down feeding. It must’ve just come over the top of the ridge or gotten out of a bed behind a bush. I could tell it had a bigger body, but it had its head down so in the grass so I just kept watching. After about 30 seconds it lifted its head. “Oh my gosh”. Greg was sitting about 30’ away. I waved him over frantically. “Big buck. In the saddle on top of the ridge by the rock pile”.

The buck began to move down as I moved the gun to get set up. He stopped behind a bush and I didn’t know where he was. Greg found him with the spotter and told me where he was. We ranged him at 475 and waited. He did the most big buck thing ever. 85% of the deer we’d see during the hunt had been moving. A few were still when feeding but even they for the most point were moving a little bit. The buck stood still in one spot for 18 minutes. If you are set up on a deer only needing him to move 3’ in either direction for a shot 18 minutes feels like an eternity! Finally he began moving to his left up the ridge. I yelled at him loud enough to make him stop. I squeezed the shot off the moment he stopped. The buck folded on the spot, kicked his leg twice and it was all over. We were excited. He was a great buck.

We hiked down the ridge and up the other side to the deer. He was exactly what we thought he was. A big mature Coues buck. Exactly what I was hoping for and a buck about anyone would gladly shoot. Passing the other bucks and my patience had paid off even though I had seriously doubted my decision. We set him up for some pics then broke him down. It was a happy hike back to the truck and a good ending to a new hunt.

Small buck from earlier in the day.
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Where I shot the buck.
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Congratulations, nice buck. Glad you decision to pass the other buck paid off. I have a hard time passing on a deer when I am not seeing many.
 
Congrats! Sure looks like a solid quality buck and crazy how dark his horns are. The coues I saw last year including the one my wife got were all very white and it seems most photos you see of them are generally pretty white too.

What was your reaction when you walked up on it? Something about crazy how tiny they are and how the body size proportion just makes those horns look way bigger?
 
Congrats! Sure looks like a solid quality buck and crazy how dark his horns are. The coues I saw last year including the one my wife got were all very white and it seems most photos you see of them are generally pretty white too.

What was your reaction when you walked up on it? Something about crazy how tiny they are and how the body size proportion just makes those horns look way bigger?
I was happy but honestly it wasn’t that much of a shock to me. Our whitetail in sc just aren’t that big body or rack. 125” buck qualifies you for the SC State record book. I’ve killed 140 whitetail in sc and never made the record book and I’ve killed some great bucks for SC. So honestly this would be a good whitetail at home. So I knew when I saw him he was a darn good coues.
 
Leupold BX-4 Rangefinding Binoculars

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