Bear’n Down for Coues Deer, Part Two
by Colton Choate
As my early Coues whitetail hunt was quickly approaching, I knew I would be scouting to find a shooter buck. As bears live in similar country as Coues deer, I wasn’t too surprised one afternoon, while scouting for deer, that I had an encounter with a black bear.
A bear was something I have wanted to harvest since I was ten. That afternoon, I had an opportunity, but we were without a gun. A few days later, one of my buddies and I, traveled back to the same spot in search of the bear. At first, we didn’t glass him, so I decided to go on a little walk to the next little basin. Right after we approached and looked over the edge, a black shape poked out from behind a big juniper tree; it was a bear. I set up, and at 200 yards, I hammered my first bear.
Prior to scouting, I had told my dad that I would rather shoot a bear than a Coues buck. Although I got what I wished for, there was still a way to make both happen. We hunted opening day, but never had a chance at a buck that I was willing to shoot.
The second day of my Coues hunt started fatefully. Someone had already claimed the spot we wanted to hunt. So, we took off hiking into some country we didn’t know too much about. As I sat down and began to glass, I spotted a buck within 10 minutes. It wasn’t a mature buck so I decided to pass. While watching that buck, I could see movement on the other side of the tree. Knowing that it was probably another buck, I watched patiently, waiting until it walked out.
As soon as he walked out, I immediately knew it was a much nicer buck, with a good-sized frame. I was sitting about one mile away from it and I couldn’t tell any specifics about the bucks score.
After a short time, the two bucks bedded under a big juniper tree that was easy to distinguish from the others. My dad and I talked about our options, and then he let me make the decision.
“I want to stalk that buck,” I said.
I made the decision knowing that the unit I was hunting had a low deer density and a small chance of finding another buck of this caliber. We trekked down the trail to the base of the hill where our upward hike would begin. After stalking for nearly two hours, and gaining over 1,200 feet in elevation, I was beat!
As we reached our vantage point to shoot from, I set up as quick as possible, in case the bucks came out of the juniper tree. While I waited, my dad grunted and then whistled several times to see if the bucks would jump out, and offer me a shot. However, we weren’t sure if the bucks were still there. If they were, they just hunkered under the tree doing what a Grey Ghost would do.
By now, most people would have left, thinking the bucks had already left the country, but not me. Not wanting to have walked this far for nothing, we came up with a plan. The plan was that my dad would walk toward the deer, from a safe direction, to try to jump the deer out. If the deer jumped out, I would yell to let him know, even though we knew he would be out of the way.
He hadn’t made it 50 yards off to my left when the bucks jumped out and booked it up the hill. I could easily tell which one was the more mature buck. I yelled as loud as I could and waited for a shot that I was comfortable with. Finally, the bucks stopped as a result of my dad yelling at them. I shot; BOOM! THWAP; the sound of impact said it all!
To be certain of my shot, I found the buck in my scope and just watched it. It broke my heart; however, to see the buck fall and roll down the hill. It reminded me of one of those TV shows where someone shoots a bighorn sheep and they slip and slide down the mountain. Finally, the buck stopped.
I didn’t know what to think. As I approached the buck, I assumed it was completely busted up and broken. But, to my surprise, I walked up to a big, wide, massive three-point that I was thrilled to take. Without the mass he was carrying, I’m not sure his antlers would still be intact.
So just like that, in six days, I was able to kill my first bear and a beast of a Coues buck (100 3/8 gross). The best six days of my life, I call it.
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.