Afternoon Coues Buck
by Colton Choate
As I went to bed after a great Thanksgiving dinner, I thought about the next morning and I couldn’t believe it; it was going to be Coues deer season in the desert. I was pumped and looking forward to this hunt. The unit my dad and I were drawn for was one I had never been to, but I have heard it was a good one. A couple years before, my dad had killed a deer in this unit, giving me a reason to apply for it myself. After a restless night, we set out on our adventure, knowing that we would at least see a few bucks.
After getting to our hunt unit and setting up camp, we studied our maps for good vantage points to glass from that afternoon. We identified a good vantage point close to camp, and climbed the nearby hill to glass. However, we figured it would be more like an afternoon of scouting for the next morning. Although we did not glass any deer, we did jump four or five deer on the walk out, but they were all does. Not seeing any bucks that afternoon did not discourage me, I knew we were in a good unit where anything could happen.
The second morning started with an exhausting hike to the top of a good-sized hill. After an hour of glassing, my dad, Darren, glassed up a three point that I personally would have loved to shoot. The only problem was that the buck went into a thicket and we could no longer see where it was. After a while of planning out a stalk, we set off to see if we could get a shot at this deer. We got into position where we assumed the buck was bedded, but we soon realized it was not there. The hike out was not a fun one, but it was still worth the experience. Later that day, we moved to a new vantage point for the afternoon hunt. We glassed up two bucks, one being a good one, and a few other deer that were does. The bucks were too far to stalk that night, so we decided to hold out until the next morning. After having an eventful day we were both happy even though we had no deer on the ground.
When we woke the next morning, it was terribly windy. Not knowing that it was only windy in the spot that we were camped in, we decided to go to town to have breakfast. But, after leaving our campsite and arriving near our hunting spot where we had seen the good buck the night before we realized it was only windy in the place we had been camped. So, we decided we would try to glass. That morning we found nothing, but instead of going into town we decided to drive around a bit and search for a new place to hunt. Exploring was surprisingly fun; we found some absolutely great Coues habitat and beautiful country in general.
After finding a new place to hunt, we decided to hunt there that afternoon. We sat at the base of a cactus-covered hill, with the sun beating down on us making us exceptionally warm. It was a while before we glassed up a buck, but soon enough we did. It was just a little two point deer that I was questioning whether or not to shoot. After a little more glassing and a little more time thinking about it, I decided I wanted to shoot this deer. We stalked uphill through some brutal brush. When we got to the point we thought I would be able to shoot from, we realized the deer was not there, the buck had either spooked or moved out of site. So, we sat down and began to look at some other country with the binos.
Shortly after we sat down and started glassing again, I looked at the top of a hill across a little canyon, about 300 yards in front of us there was another deer; a bigger two point feeding on the hill. I told my dad that I wanted to shoot this deer so he snuck back around the hill where our packs were and got the tripod for me to shoot from. At 265 yards I made the shot. I just put a deer on the ground; I couldn’t believe how fast it all came together, and how excited I was to have my second deer on the ground. We celebrated with a high five and a hug. After field dressing the deer, we drug the deer about a mile back to the truck. Although the pack out was not fun, I couldn’t have been happier with this deer.
However, this was not the end of our hunt; my dad still had a tag. The next morning again studied our maps, and soon decided on a spot that we felt would hold a few Coues deer. But, after only seeing a couple does that morning, we were disappointed. That afternoon we ended up hunting the same place but still did not find any deer, and were even more disappointed. Although the hunt was not over, it was for us; we had to head home to school and work.
Even though my dad did not shoot a deer, we still had a great time and had some father-son bonding time. I was still upset my dad didn’t get to shoot a deer, but I think he was happy for me. After all, what is hunting if you harvest an animal every time? This was a very tough hunt, there is no such thing as easy when it comes to Coues deer; it involves a lot of hiking and a lot of glassing. So, if you don’t like to sit and look, my advice is to stay out of Coues deer country.
I want to thank my dad, who is not only just a dad to me but also a person I look up to, and a great guide for Coues deer and all other big game animals. I’m lucky to have such a great guide as my dad.
Colton Choate is an avid outdoorsman; he has been following his father around in the woods since he was three. Colton took his first Coues whitetail buck on a youth hunt in Southern Arizona. Since then, he has taken one more and now has a goal to take either a 100-incher or a good buck with his bow. Now, a senior in high school, Colton is an experienced young hunter. Although his passion, like his father, is Western Whitetail, Colton has hunted and taken several other big game animals over his short career.