by Ty Crowther
Thursday, November 20th I arrived home from school, and excitedly packed my camos, backpack and hunting gear in the truck. My dad, Lance, and my little brother, Weston, and I left Flagstaff that night and headed for a Southern Arizona junior Coues adventure in Unit 33. At age ten, it was to be Weston’s first Coues deer hunt, and my second at age twelve. My dad of course didn’t have a tag so we took into consideration that he was the one with the money and the truck, and decided to let him be our guide. We were headed for our cousin, Jake Lindsey’s, house in Tucson, Arizona. Jake was also going to help on the hunt as well. As we neared the end of the four-hour drive we stopped for some fast food for dinner. I had my food in the backseat and my dad and Weston shared their food in the front seat. Later, I would be very grateful for that small detail. When we arrived we said our hello’s to Jake’s family and went straight to bed.
At first, I had a hard time trying to sleep. My mind was wandering and I was trying not to have that horrible nightmare where your younger brother shoots his first buck that’s three times as big as your first buck. Eventually I got over it, and slept like a rock. I awoke in the morning to my little brother excitedly rushing around. I rolled over and looked at the clock and realized it was an hour and a half before we had planned to wake up. I thought to myself, “I’m way too tired and he is way too excited.” Then I heard my dad tell him, “hurry up!” and I thought it must be time to get up. It turns out they were both very sick from food poisoning they had had gotten from the fast food the night before. It was obvious they weren’t going anywhere, so new plans were made. It was only Jake and I that would be headed to the field that morning. I felt really bad because it was opening morning of my little brother’s first Coues deer hunt, and he was too sick to go. But I had a tag burning a hole in my pocket, so I threw my gear into the back of Jake’s truck and we headed out about an hour before light.
We drove deep into the mountains, parked the truck, and started hiking straight up. We reached the top of our first peak and the wind started to blow hard. This was where we had planned to start glassing from, so we decided to stick it out. After a while, the wind and the late night caught up to me so I curled up under my poncho and fell asleep. I woke up a little later to Jake calling my name. We decided to move a little, so we packed up and headed across a big saddle to the south. We hiked out onto a ridge and found a nice vantage point to glass. I was just getting settled in behind my glasses when I heard Jake say, “I got one! It’s a buck! No, wait…Yes!”
“It’s a spike!”
“Where?” I asked as my heart began to beat faster.
It turns out he was about 500 yards across a steep, nasty canyon. I had taken a spike Coues buck in the same spot when I was 10, so we decided to just keep an eye on him and see if we could find some more. I started glassing the ridge about 300 yards in front of us. As I was about half way down it, I saw Jake move his binos to glass the same ridge and right away he said, “Buck! Big buck!”
My heart was beating faster than before as I excitedly asked, “Where?” With Jake’s help, I quickly found him about 100 yards from where I had been looking.
I grabbed Jake’s 25-06 and got set up for a prone shot. When I found the buck in the scope, Jake moved over and set up right behind me. We adjusted the scope for 360 yards and Jake watched through his binos as I settled in for the shot. I began to slowly squeeze the trigger with the crosshairs on his chest. It felt like the gun shook every time my heart pounded. Bang, the gun discharged!
The buck ran a short ways and stopped behind a tree. We could tell the buck was hit, but we weren’t positive where. We came to the conclusion that when he stepped out he would need another shot. We waited for about five minutes and then decided to move to get a different angle to be able to shoot at him up under the tree. I kept the buck in the scope while Jake found a spot where I could lay prone and we got set up for another shot. We ranged him at 375 yards, and I tried to settle in. By then buck fever got the best of me and I yanked the trigger for a clean miss. The buck ran out from under the tree and into a small clearing. Again, I settled myself down the best I could, and squeezed the trigger. The shot was a little high but dropped him in his tracks.
Now it was time to get excited! After some hugs and high fives and some text messages to our sick support group back at the house, we packed up and got ready for the big canyon in front of us. From where we were the canyon was about 200 yards to the bottom and full of the steepest crumbling rock, slippery gravel, and every nasty cactus the beautiful mountains of southern Arizona can throw at you! It’s a good thing the canyon was also full of cat-claw to keep us from just tumbling clear to the bottom in our excitement. The other side of the canyon wasn’t quite as tall and as full of oak scrub, but it was still as steep and slippery. It’s hard not to be a little frustrated with the terrain when all you want to do is run to your buck.
When we eventually got up to the buck it was a nice surprise to find that he was even bigger than we thought, and I proudly wrapped my tag on him. We decided to haul him a little ways to the top of the ridge and off of the slippery slope where it would be easier to work on him. We hauled our gear up first and found a good spot and then went back for the buck. We half drug and half fell our way up the rugged slope while carrying the buck.
After lots of pictures we were able to hang him in a tree and quarter and debone him.
I proudly loaded up the head and some of the loose pieces, while Jake carried the rest of my buck. Then, we were off through those awesome canyons again and back to the truck. I was glad the last quarter mile was downhill. The wind had died down and it was a beautiful November day. When we finally arrived at the truck we chugged some Gatorades, and sat for a while enjoying the A/C! Seventy-nine degrees in November is plenty hot when you’re a worn out boy from the high country. I was very thankful I wasn’t sick. With big smiles we headed back to town and our family. I think I was happily asleep the entire drive back to the house without any dreams of my poor little brothers first buck being bigger than mine.