Mule Deer, Elk and Western Big Game Hunting -

"Coues Quest"
Written by Allen Taylor, aka Bura Nut here at

Coues Quest
It didn't start out as an obsession, but after reading about coues deer years ago, then moving to Arizona, I made the decision to join the ranks of the hopelessly obsessed coues fanatics. I started looking for any article, any research site, anything I could find relating to coues. I wanted to gain an understanding of the wily little deer. I called outfitters, searched websites and bugged anyone who was willing to lend an ear.

After talking and spending some time in the field with Duwane Adams, a well-known guide in Arizona, I learned a lot about the characteristics of coues deer---what they feed on, how to hunt them and how to effectively glass. I did not bag an animal my first year, but the experiences helped prepare me for the following season.

In June of 2002, the Arizona Mule Deer Association had its annual banquet where I purchased a coues hunt in the live auction. This particular hunt was to be hosted by Senior Jose' Morales, owner of El Cajoncito Adventures, and we'd be hunting on his 60,000 acre ranch located in Sonora, Mexico.
From what I could tell, his ranch looked like prime coues habitat! The pictures of the ranch and the terrain showed beautiful oak dotted mountains with lots of tall grass interspersed with other sonoran plants.

In the months prior to the hunt, I spent every free moment looking at pictures and reading stories about other coues hunts in "Old Mexico". It has been a dream of mine for many years to follow in the footsteps of Jack O'Connor after his favorite big game animal.

After waiting for what seemed like years, the six months passed and I made the trip to Douglas, AZ where I met Mr. Morales at the border. The crossing was surprisingly easy, as Mr. Morales covered all the paperwork check points with ease.
I rode with him to the ranch and during the drive we discussed the drought, its affects on the deer and the current coues activity. Jose' mentioned that the rut had not started, but they were still seeing good numbers of deer in the mornings and evenings.
Just seeing the ranch that evening, and the snow covered mountain tops made me dream of the "Muy Grande Coues" I hoped for on this hunt.

The following morning found us hiking before first light to a high ridge that would provide for excellent glassing in all directions. We immediately spotted deer, and one was a buck. After looking at this buck, I decided that I wanted to pass, he was about 85 points with a nice main beam, but somewhat weak on his G-3's.
During the rest of the morning, we moved a few times and continued to see deer until around 10:30, but no shooters.

Later that day, I spotted a good buck feeding in a real thick patch of oaks. We stalked within 500 yards and setup, but with the sun directly in our eyes, and the language barrier (Albeto could not speak a word of English), I could not confidently confirm the buck I was seeing in my scope was the same buck, so we backed out, hoping to go after him later in the week when the conditions were better.
The next two days were spent glassing and hiking, with one big buck giving us the slip on the mesquite flats and another on a steep snow covered mountain top.

On Sunday morning, we left earlier than usual and headed to the backside of the ranch, higher in elevation. After the hike in, and setting up, Albeto glassed up three does. A half-hour later, I spotted a good buck, but it went over the ridge into the adjoining private property.
We glassed for another hour before I decided to make one last pass with the bino's before moving to a new spot.
As I started into my last glassing pattern, there he was, just coming out from under a large blue oak. His coat was shinning and he was headed towards the top of the ridge. About 20 yards from the top, the buck totally surprised me and stopped to bed down right in plain sight, on what I considered a feeding slope and not the traditional northwest facing bedding slope.
It's hard to describe how regal this bedded buck looked, but with the sun shining off his hide and tall horns, I was impressed. After my heart rate came back down, Albeto and I discussed (in hand signals) what the best route would be in stalking this buck.
Naturally, he had bedded in a spot that did not allow me to get above him, so this would be a bit tricky trying to get a shot. We took off in a circuitous route trying to keep out of sight, but not letting the swirling winds announce our presence. After about an hour, we were set up in what we initially thought would be a good spot. Unfortunately, we could not see him due to how steep the slope was and the thickness of the oaks.
So, we decided to hike up another ridge to gain some elevation, and then noticed the buck had got out of his bed and fed about 200 yards away from where he was originally bedded.
This put the buck 600+ yards away from our current location---too far for me to shoot. So, we hiked back down then up the backside of the peak he was feeding below.

Upon cresting the top, I immediately noticed movement down the slope and to my right. The buck had changed directions while we were moving to this location and was feeding back towards us. Luckily, he didn't see or wind us!
It's hard to describe the next few moments, but between the excitement and my heart feeling like it would come out of my chest, I was able to setup and shoot the moving buck at 240 yards.
After the shot, the buck jumped straight up in the air about 3 feet then ran downhill out of sight. I knew where I hit him and that it was good, but as many other hunters have done, I began to second guess and doubt myself.

There was no blood where I hit the buck, so I went back and confirmed where I shot from, then the route I thought the buck took. After looking about 10 minutes for blood, we found the buck piled up about 25 yards away. What a relief, Albeto and I hugged and shook hands.
The .257 Weatherby magnum, combined with 115 grain ballistic tips, did the job, taking out the heart and both lungs.
Albeto and I both took numerous pictures and admired this magnificent animal. I can't emphasize enough how blessed I feel to bag this trophy, completing not only my "Coues Quest", but also the North American Deer Slamů..

Click-a-Pic ... Details & Bigger Photos

Click-a-Pic ... Details & Bigger Photos

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