First Day Coues
by Conrad Sheley
My hunt began in January 2016. I love chasing Coues deer during the rut and I’ve taken three Pope and Young bucks doing just that. This year was different; I wasn’t hunting alone, my wife, son, and father decided that they also wanted to archery hunt the January rut. I made the decision that if I didn’t find a giant buck in January, I would wait until August and get a Coues buck in the velvet. For most of January, I played guide for my family and we did quite well. My wife harvested her first deer with her bow on January 23rd and my son harvested his deer on the 25th, his second Coues deer with a bow. Unfortunately, my dad couldn’t find the buck he hit during his week of hunting. I also had some bad luck, and could not find a 110-inch buck that I hit on the second to last day of the hunt. I reviewed the video and saw that I only got two or three inches of penetration. After that shot, I made the switch from expandable broadheads to my new weapon of choice, the Slick Trick Grizztrick.
Fast-forward to August 2016. Friday the 19th was the first day of the August archery season. I had four different bachelor groups of bucks located. I spent the morning sitting in a canyon overlooking a spring and saw nothing but does. After the uneventful morning, I went to lunch and headed back out into the flats. It didn’t take very long before I decided to move on to bachelor group number three. Out in the flats, I spotted five different trucks within 1,000 yards of each other. So, I moved into another area about an hour and a half before dark. It was still monsoon season here in southern Arizona and the clouds were moving in and it was getting dark quicker than I anticipated. My wife was off work and had joined me. We spotted a unique buck with a typical three-point on one side and a mess of junk growing out of the other side. I thought he would be a great first velvet Coues deer.
I made my way downwind, and my wife waited behind me as I glassed for the buck. I didn’t find him, but I did find three very nice bucks feeding 230-yards away. They were feeding out of the thick mesquites and into the bottom of the draw. My plan was to sneak down the bottom of the draw and let the air out of one of them. As it usually goes, I didn’t make it very far into my plan, or the draw, before I had to change things up. At about 200-yards out, I walked around a juniper and I saw a buck looking right at me from 90-yards away. I slowly moved back behind the juniper and waited. Fortunately, it didn’t take long before things got interesting. I watched through the branches waiting for that buck to move on or bolt. Nothing, but I saw something moving behind him. It was a couple more bucks that had no idea were there. They started down the draw right towards me. I held tight behind the juniper and the bucks started filing across the hillside at 60-yards. I started to count and got to nine before I saw what I thought was just a nice 4×4. I waited for him to stop.
The buck was quartering towards me slightly when I released the first arrow. It hit him perfect and he jumped up the hill and stopped broadside at 60-yards again. Without hesitation, I sent another arrow sailing through him. Still having no idea where I was, he ran off the hillside and bedded 40-yards in front of me. It started raining and I could see his head still up and alert. With the rain coming down, I decided to sneak around the brush and shoot him again. As I got closer I heard what sounded like him kicking, maybe trying to get up. It wasn’t him—a herd of Javelina popped up out of the draw right in front of him, and he jumped up and ran around the brush right to me. I was ready and I put a third arrow through him at 15 yards. After the third shot he ran over a small berm and out of sight.
The rain started coming down a little harder and I wasted no time looking for blood and the buck because I knew after three arrows he couldn’t have gone far. I found him dead about 40-yards from where he disappeared over the berm. As I walked up, I noticed a couple extra points on him. I didn’t pick him up immediately because I wanted my wife to see. I went back to get her from her vantage point where she informed me she watched the action unfold. Once we got back to the buck and pulled his head out of the brush, I knew this was a monster Coues buck! I had no idea when I shot him that he had all those extra points or the incredible mass. I was speechless! I had taken my first velvet Coues deer. The buck had eight points on one side and six on the other, with an official score of 119 2/8 gross and 112 7/8 net non-typical. He should be the number two non-typical, velvet Coues deer in Pope and Young. This buck is most definitely a buck-of-a-lifetime, and the best part of the entire hunt was that my wife was there with me to see it all go down.
IMAGES of the HUNT