I had have the opportunity to hunt the elusive grey ghost in New Mexico last fall of 2017 with Guide Ethan and Outfitter Jordan Hall from www.huntingnewmexico.com
I was successful on the last evening. It created a great desire to hunt Coues after that!
Ethan's dad was quiet the accomplished Coues hunter had talked about applying for the San Carlos Indian Reservation yearly raffle for game including Coues Whitetail.
On my return back to Payson Arizona, you wouldn't believe I drove right by the San Carlos Game and Fish office. I quickly did a u-turn and made a beeline for Reservation's Game & Fish Office.
I purchased 3 raffle draw entries totaling around $75.00 US. I opened an email from San Carlos F&G in early February and could not believe my Aussie-luck when I saw CONGRATULATION YOUR ARE SUCCESSFUL IN COUES DEER in Unit B in Nov 2018.
My hunt started in mid November. I had rooms booked at the nearby San Carlos Casino, being the only accommodation close to my unit.
I had invited my good Arizona mate John Griess along to help me glass for the elusive "Gray Ghost".
We arrived Thursday afternoon, checked in and prepared for a scout on Friday. I was lucky, as JG had a couple of friends pin drop a couple of start points. Armed with that info JG and I headed out to scout and find our way round the new ground. We located a number of Coues and were very happy with the intel.
Saturday morning came all too fast...as the alarm bell rang on my cell. An hour or two later found ourselves on the side of a big mountain working our-way up the side.
JG classed 6-10 deer on a distant hill top with in the first hour. We decided at would be tomorrows hit list if we didn't pull the trigger today.
We pressed on...it was very difficult terrain and I was was on pain meds from my car wreck injuries from earlier this fall. It slowed our pace substantially having to take many rest breaks heading in. This tag was a once in a life time opportunity and the tag cost over 2K US.
I had waited close to a year for this event and I wasn't quitting! I had to give up on two earlier archery hunts due to my injuries and that sucked!
This was an any legal weapon hunt...so I choose a rifle hunt! Rifle did not required the same level of strength and fitness as an archery hunt required...plus I had a friend to help me out and carry the weight and was hoping to get it done with in a day or two.
JG classed up many Coues and stink pigs (Javelina) as we slowly pressed to the ridge top. We stopped for a lunch break. For me this stop meant a rest and sleep.
That rest was great after a short walk, we seen a rock point in the distance and JG thought it would be a great vantage point. We slowly made out way to the top of the world I thought lol, it sure felt like it!
JG classed the right side of view and I the left. As I set up and looked below I thought mmm...I bet a buck is bed up right below in the trees and out the wind...sure enough not 10 minutes latter a small buck walked out below from the trees.
He wasn't a shooter as I put the binos down...I tried to get JG's attention, so he could switch to my side and get in on the action, he was busy scouring his hill side and I couldn't risk spooking my buck.
A few minutes later, two more bucks appeared to my right and met up with the smaller buck. The second buck was a shooter I thought. I counted at-least 9 point or more and some palmation.
I moved into a comfortable position cradling my Sendero 7mm into a firm rest over the rocks I glassed from.
There was no rush, I ranged him close at 220 yards adjusted the turret accordingly. I quietly pushed the safety off, made sure the bubble was level, I breathed out and boom he was hit right on the shoulder perfectly...as he stumbled 10 yards went end over end into a dead tree...he was down.
I looked over at JG and said he's down mate and hes a good one. JG packed up his gear and came over to my spot. We looked down over the two smaller bucks who strangely continued to stand around and feed. JG and I then made our plan of getting the buck out of there.
It was an easy stroll down through there bedding area to where my buck lay. I wasn't disappointed and there was no ground shrinkage either! This turned out to be a hunt I'd never forget and could not be happier!
ODOCOILEUS VIRGINIANUS COUESI
by Patrick Meitin.
The Coues whitetail deer — a Southwest subspecies of the common Eastern whitetail — were first scientifically described by American Army physician and noted naturalist Dr. Elliot Coues while stationed at Fort Whipple, Arizona, 1865 to 1866. Hence the Coues label. “Cows” is technically the proper pronunciation, though most who hunt them pronounce it “cooz.”
Locally the deer is often referred to as Arizona whitetail, or “fantail” (due to their habit of flaring their large tails when alarmed). The Coues whitetail is an elfin deer, standing 32-34 inches at the shoulder and seldom exceeding 100 pounds live weight. Coues sport ears and tails appearing out of proportion to their small bodies, with hides generally lighter in hue than other deer species. The large ears facilitate heat dissipation during hot summer months, the grey hide blending remarkably well in their drab, rocky environments.
Coues are denizens of Southwestern mountain ranges consisting mostly of scrub oak, Manzanita, mountain mahogany, juniper, piñon pine and high grass bowls, sometimes mesquite and cactus basins, at elevations from 3,500 to 9,000+ feet above sea level (the majority found at 6,000 to 7,500 feet). They are well adapted to these hot, dry regions and can survive long periods without standing water (retaining moisture from the vegetation they ingest), though not indefinitely.
Prolonged droughts are the Coues whitetail’s No.1 enemy, and herds suffer during such conditions. Coues whitetail typically began rutting by mid-December, with the first three weeks of January representing the rut peak in most locations. Coues whitetail have been observed rutting into February in some herds.
Breeding is timed to coincide with the Southwest’s late-June/early-July monsoon season, fawns generally dropping by late June. Arriving during monsoons assures does and fawns receive adequate nutrition through renewed vegetation growth these summer rains bring. Cooling temperatures that result from these rains are also generally easier on newborn fawns.