Patience Pays Off, for Coues Bucks
by Gerad Alvin
It’s January, and for me that means one thing, time to chase some Coues bucks! My passion for archery hunting Coues deer started ten years ago when I had a 130-plus-inch giant run by me at a mere eighteen yards! All I could do was stare in awe as the biggest deer I’d ever seen chased his doe by me. I was hooked to say the least. It has been game on ever since.
Every January, my dad and I pack up and head south for a week in the desert. This year, we opted to start in one of our favorite spots near Tucson, AZ. Having helped a friend on a late rifle hunt and seen signs of good rut activity, we had high hopes of finding some good bucks chasing does. Our hopes were shot down when day one came and went with lots of rain, and very little deer movement. On the morning of day two, we woke to a beautiful sunrise and started scanning the hills. Aside from good weather, it was a lot like day one, very little deer movement and no sign of any good bucks. Figuring the majority of the deer were bedded, I started to look deep under every tree and every thick spot in hopes of turning something up. Finally, on the hill across from us, I spotted a GIANT two-point laid up with a doe, and the stalk was on. With no wind to help cover my noise up the steep, rocky terrain, the stalk seemed endless. When I was about 150 yards from the deer, my dad called over the radio, “He’s gone! The doe got up and he chased her over the hill,” he said. I was bummed. However, we were able to relocate the buck a short time later, but just couldn’t close the deal. The next day, with no deer spotted, we decided to pack up and head toward the Mexico border—to spot number two—in hopes of finding better rut activity. We pulled in at dark and set up shop to get ready for the next day.
On the morning of day four, we jumped in the truck and headed into our new location. Driving in, we spotted a small buck pushing a doe over the ridge. Seeing that, we quickly hiked to our glassing point with excitement. Shut down again. All we could manage to turn up was spikes and small two points. Where were the big bucks? Having luck in the past at the top of the mountains, we put it in “four-wheel” and started hiking up the ridge. Hiking through a drainage on our way up we spotted a spike and doe on the hill to our left. As they ran over the top we rounded the corner, and I looked back up the hill and said “big buck!” He had us pegged, so I opted for a long shot and missed. He turned and bounded over the ridge, so we quickly got to the top to try to relocate him. After about an hour or so, I moved slightly down to my left to get a better view of the bowl next to me. There he was, bedded only 95 yards away! Quickly getting my dad’s attention, I grabbed my bow and we slipped back to where I had spotted him. To my amazement he was gone! Looking further down I spotted two does coming out of the bowl and there he was following them out. As he stepped into a clearing I drew my bow, anchored my pin and released. Missed again! My arrow made it three quarters of the way there and deflected. He didn’t go far so we knew he was just over the ridge. We decided that I should loop down to get closer, and my dad would come from the top in case he moved up. While I was getting into position, I looked up and saw my dad moving down the ridge to me. He had found the buck bedded and was coming to tell me where he was. Little did he know there was a herd of 17 javelina between us. As he came down the ridge I heard one start woofing and looked up to see him only ten yards away. As soon as it got my dad’s wind it squealed and came running right at me! I jumped out of the way, as he blew by me. Then there was pigs running everywhere. Luckily, the buck was bedded far enough down the ridge that he was not bothered from all the commotion. Calming my excitement from nearly being run over, we began our stalk. Everything was perfect, we closed the distance and before we knew it we were only 45 yards from the tree he was bedded under! Not knowing exactly where he was bedded, we peeked our heads up to try to find him. Big mistake, he jumped up before we could get a shot and blew out of the country. Little did I know two days later we’d meet again.
The next day came and went with no sign of the buck. Though we didn’t find him, we managed to turn up quite a few nice bucks; just not the ones we were looking for. On the hike down from the top we hit the head of the draw where we had first seen the big buck and spotted a spike 70 yards away that didn’t seem to mind us. Another ten steps down…and a white flag jumped up to our left. There he was less than fifty yards away and leaving the country, yet again; only this time with a doe. As he topped the ridge, my dad confirmed it was the buck I had missed the day before. Gone again or so I thought.
As the sun hit the hills the next morning, we sat down on our glassing point and started scanning through our 15s. The first place I looked was the backside of the ridge the buck had gone over the night before. Gridding down the slope I neared the bottom and spotted a good buck and thought no way. Quickly grabbing the spotting scope to get a better look, I couldn’t believe it. It was him! He was nearly out of sight, so my dad leap frogged up to a hill across from the draw the buck was headed into. Once he was in position he called me and told me to start working my way over to the ridge behind the draw. Doing double time, I reached the bottom of the ridge and he called again. “I got him, he’s headed up hill so head for the saddle,” he told me. So that’s exactly what I did. Picking my path wisely through the loose rock and brush, I got within fifty yards of the saddle and called to confirm the buck’s exact location. “He’s in the very bottom and should be right below you, be patient, pick a spot, good luck and he’s BIG!”
“Thanks pop,” that’s all I needed to hear. My heart was already pounding with adrenalin and to hear my dad say “he’s big” meant he was a stomper because he’s very picky. I calmed my nerves and inched my way over the saddle, watching for the buck with every step. I got to where I could see the entire length of the draw and waited. The bottom of the draw was thick with cat claw and mesquite trees, so I couldn’t see into it very well. All of the sudden, a two-point buck had come up from behind me and blew! I about jumped out of my boots. I thought it was all over, but nothing ran out from below me. Not two minutes later, another deer blows. This time it was not at me. On the slope across from the draw, two spikes were chasing a doe and were headed straight for the bottom of the draw. Knowing the big buck would not want the spikes around his doe I readied myself for the shot opportunity. As the first spike made his way up the draw, I continually ranged ahead of him. Then it all happened. The second spike came running up the draw hot on the doe’s heels. As he passed straight below me, the big buck smashed through the brush at him and went behind a tree. Seeing how big he was, my heart began to beat out of my chest. My first thought was to move forward to see around the tree, but then I remembered my dad’s words, “be patient.”
Figuring the buck would come back the same way he ran out, I ranged the opening at 67 yards. A shot I was very comfortable taking. It seemed like an eternity waiting for him to show himself, and then I saw his tines coming around the tree. His body was in sight, but there were a few limbs in the way, so as I started to draw my dad’s words came to mind again, “be patient.” I let down and waited for him to step into the clear lane. His legs started moving, so I came to full draw as he stepped out into the lane. I picked a spot, settled my pin and cut it loose. The arrow hit its mark and he piled up only twenty yards from where I shot him. I ran to the top of the saddle and let out a big, “yahoo!” I couldn’t believe it; two days ago, I missed this buck, not once, but twice, and thought I’d never see him again. Now, he was down and he was mine!
This buck is one in a million. He may not be the best scoring buck, but his awesome character makes him my favorite buck by far. I may have spotted this buck, but I owe it all to my dad for my success. Without his words of wisdom and his guidance on the stalk, none of it would have been possible. I can’t thank him enough for his help on this trip and all of our hunting adventures. If there was one thing I could say to those of you who try to spot and stalk these amazing deer, it would be this: stay confident, be persistent, and most of all be patient. Thank you for your time in reading my story and good luck to all of you on your next hunting adventure!