Bowhunting Coues Deer in Arizona's Blue Range Wilderness

Bowhunting Coues Deer in Arizona's Blue Range Wilderness

I Need You To Be Strong, Lizard, a Storm is Coming

Five days in the deep and you’ll start to talk to anything that is willing to listen. I don’t know if he is a consenting audience, but the lizard makes no move to leave the sunbaked rock, so I take it as approval. I knew a solo trip is what the soul ordered, just me in my own head. So what better place for isolation than deep in the backcountry of no-mans land, the primitive wilderness of Arizona. I figured there would be a few beer swilling, ATV hunters roaming the one road that runs into the Blue Range Primitive Area. I knew they wouldn’t prove to be competition once a mile off the road. The predictability almost knocked me off my high horse as I look back at the throttle twisters with Bass Pro bow racks lashed on. This was going to be easy.

Words like these tend to punch you in the face repeatedly. I came out of this one like I just took 5 rounds with Pacquiao.  Easy and Coues deer don’t belong in the same sentence. This was the prey for the next five days of my life and I can honestly say, I can’t remember having more fun getting my ass handed to me. Everything I did, these little coked up fellaswere two steps ahead of me. They were hypersensitive almost to a point of being spastic. There was nothing within a hundred yard radius of which they weren’t aware. If a butterfly took a dump and didn’t wash it’s hands afterwards, they knew about it.

So my tutelage began; As I stalked them deeper into the backcountry, everything else in life faded away. Work, stress, the drama that we inflict to make ourselves feel important… all just gone. So simple, so stupid; To chase animals like I did when I was 8 years old, and acquire that same mentality. Life is as complex or as simple as you make it, the decision is yours.

Alright, you’re not here to listen to my philosophies on life. Off the soap box, on back into the dirt.

The learning process was accelerated due to the fact that this place was crawling with deer, although holy hell did they make you work for it. The first set I got to was about 5.5 miles back, and right at the top of the ridge. It felt like I was back in Colorado hunting high country mule deer.

Stalk after stalk, these little fellas proved entirely in control of the situation. I stood little chance. Get in close enough, and they just sensed you. No real explanation, they just knew you were there.  However, through the amount of practice they so graciously gave me, I learned to get closer and closer. Things were starting to come together. My mentality on big game hunting has always been, “If I get a stalk in, the trip was a success.” I got more stalks in on this trip than all the stalks of my short hunting career combined. So yea, I could officially check this one off as a success.

 Fred's Coues deer, still in velvet.

Fred's Coues deer, still in velvet.

Lizard and I’s conversation leaves the superficial and gets more profound. We were deep into the realm of double-slit theory, when he pointed out that yes, two beings can be in two different places at the same time. I was about to counter his point when, “Holy shit, your right…” squeezed out of my throat. The buck that I had chased in the morning and was supposed to be hundreds of yards away had materialized back in the valley. “No freaking way.”

The ambush was on. I slid my ghost feet on (more on this in another article) and hauled ass to a choke point in the valley that he had to go through. No slipping by me this time. I sprinted down the mountain and came sliding into my contact point. I checked the wind, as I knew I couldn’t possibly go unnoticed with my aroma. Five days in 98 degree heat… I could knock a buzzard off a shit-wagon by now.

 Getting the stank off.

Getting the stank off.

Wind, check. Visuals, check. Nothing could get past me at this point without me noticing. A roll reversal. I was the hypersensitive hunter and I knew their game. I see him move across the far side of the choke point with two of his drinking buddies. Just a little more… and… a one-eighty. Back up the valley.

I could feel lizard’s eyes watching me, not judging, but wanting to see if the student had learned. I got into the stream bed and worked up to a cutoff point in a patch of trees. They were wary at this time of day, so I knew they would be using the trees as cover. I used the stream to keep me lower than the rest of the valley as I sprinted up to the aforementionedcutoff point.

Feet as silent as a mouse fart, I workinto the trees edge. I hear a snap. I come up out of a crouch about 3/4 of the way up. I see velvet, then I see eyes. He has no idea what I am, as I’m sure he has never seen a human within 8 yards of him. The equation goes like this, if a human is within a hundred yards of me, I know it. So I didn’t know you were there, therefore you are not a human. I draw my bow low, side-step, aim (if you can call it that from 8 yards) and prove to him that I damn well am human.

I look up the hillside and lizard is pleased. He learns that humans can in fact learn. I learn that lizards have an uncanny knowledge of quantum physics.

 Coues deer.

Coues deer.

// Fred