The goal was to build up enough points for the kids to hunt Coues deer before turning 18. With the help of Austin Atkinson at Huntin’ Fool, we were shown how to use our kids’ points strategically to get two of their friends with less points all in the draw together. Our good friend, Kevin Norman, helped us get the plan together, and as a result, our two kids and two of his kids were going hunting! We have made it to the point in life when it is more fun to be with the kids when they hunt, and hunting a new area with friends was going to make this a great hunt.
We decided to use an outfitter as we had never hunted this species and had never been in the area before. We wanted the kids to have a good experience. Austin again pulled through and helped refer a trusted guide service to use, Wards Outfitters. With the research done, we were fairly certain we would draw, so it was not a big surprise when the successful email came back. We loaded up and headed to Arizona the day before the opener.
We were a little apprehensive about getting a guide, but after the first day of seeing the terrain, the vegetation, and the challenge of glassing these miniature deer, we were very happy with our decision. The terrain is steep outcroppings of hills, thick vegetation that you cannot see the earth underneath, and a lot of pokey bushes and stickers so thick on your pants they start to take on a shape of their own. After spotting deer at first light, we made a stalk and bumped them out of a ravine we could not see into. We followed them up and over a couple peaks before losing sight of them. Hiking out that day, we were very thankful to come over the rise and see the trucks in the valley below, having used up most of day one. On day two, we did not see as many deer, but at the end of the day, we saw a group of bucks go over a saddle without enough time to go after them.
Day three put us back in the same area as day one but one drainage over. We spotted deer shortly after light going up a steep hill towards a saddle. We decided to split and drop one person to glass the bowl the deer were in and the rest went to glass the other side where the deer would most likely go. As predicted, the group of seven bucks went over the ridge. After searching the peak for an hour, Autumn was the first to find a couple of the bucks that had split from the group. We were all a bit scattered. Autumn and the guide hiked up to a better shooting spot while I was back in the other basin glassing the backside in case they returned over the top. Brayden and Porter were glassing, and Autumn and the guide made the push up the mountain. Fortunately, the buck bedded in Brayden’s view.
A couple hours later, Autumn was set up, laying prone with a small window at 450 yards. Due to the tight shooting window, Autumn lay prone for three hours waiting for the deer to stand, not daring to move the pack for water or food. Finally, he stood up and Autumn let a bullet fly before Justin finished saying, “Kill him.” The buck fell in his tracks and didn’t move. I heard the shot and an excited, “She smoked him!” on the radio. We knew these hills were steep and nasty from the first day, but this mountain was brutal. It was super steep and rocky. Every step had to be tested before stepping down. Brayden and Porter came within feet of a Mojave green rattler, which was luckily too cold to be active. Rolling rocks were also a hazard while hiking.
Dehydrated and tired, the group all made it back to the truck and enjoyed an amazing sunset, feeling very satisfied and happy with the day. There are hunts that change all of us, and this may be that hunt for Autumn. She hunted hard, glassed hard, made a game plan, and it all worked out. She came down the mountain exhausted, but she was beaming ear to ear.
The rest of the hunt was amazing. Porter had a couple opportunities, but it only takes hitting a couple inches off to miss on these small deer. Kevin’s kids pulled off the elusive double by making great shots one right after the other on deer that were 20 yards apart. We gained a greater appreciation for these little elusive deer.
A huge thanks to Austin for helping us use our points with the best possible outcome. Wards Outfitters was amazing. With Justin, it was like hunting with your buddy who knows the best spots, is the best at glassing, and has piles of stories to tell. We can’t wait to go back and hunt again.