good looking buck! what unit if you don't mind me asking.. My family lives down there. My cousin took a 126" and my uncle took a 113" and their buddy took a 110" this year down there. They are residents... fun deer, I don't know why I haven't been hunting down there the past 10 years but, thats going to change
Heres the story. We put in for the hunt and basically just looked at a map of Arizona and then pulled the draw odds and success rates. We went with unit 32 for the end of November first of December, it showed I think like 95% draw odds with a 22% success rate. We wanted a tag more than success really. We also put 24b as a choice and changed up the time.
We were lucky and the 4 of us drew our 1st choice.
After months of anticipation and doing what we could to get familiar with the area, it was finally time to go.
We headed down Tuesday the 24th after I got off work. The plan was to drive until about midnight and then find a place to sleep out under the stars. I was driving and I figured that would put us at Bluff. When we got there I was the only one awake and wasn't to tired so I pushed on. By the time I did get tired we were only about 2 hours from where we planed on to start looking for deer, so I just drove on and got there right at sun up.
We decided to start around the Mamouth AZ area. We found some good looking area but due to private property issues we weren't going to be able to get up to were the coues deer are until the afternoon of opening day.
We talked to some locals and found another road to try. We got up in there and started seeing does all over. We ended up find 18 does in the area but no bucks. We marked the area on the map and since we had another day and a half of scouting before the season started we figured we would move to another area of the unit. After calling the biologist of the area he pointed us to an area on the south side. We started that way but didn't know it was going to take us clear into Tucson and then back around to get there. A lot of wilderness on this unit.
We ended up find a nice group of deer the night before the hunt. We made plans and set up camp.
Opening morning we head into the area and as I 'm walking and trying to really look for this grey ghost and started to think to myself how hard this is going to be to see them. Well no sooner did I think this when I notice a flash of white off to my right. I pulled up my binos and saw it was a big buck. But by the time I dropped the binos and pulled up the rifle the deer had disappeared, how he did on an open hillside ill never know, but I got a good idea of why they are referred to as a ghost.
I got on the radio and got in contact with my cousin who was on the ridge this deer was on. I told him what I saw and if he can see him. He was still a ways behind so it was no luck.
I started getting glimpses of other coues deer running further up and diving off into a little draw. I decided I would make my way up to see inside the draw and maybe get lucky.
By the time I got there the sun was coming up over the ridge line so I couldn't see anything let alone a deer that blends in with the surroundings.
I did see my cousin and he was close to the top of the draw. I figured I could hike up and meet up with him and possibly get the deer out, either they were going to come down to me or up to him. I only had walked 30 yards when boom, then another boom. I asked over the radio if he had got one, no response. I picked up my pace and then he gets on the radio and hes more excited then I have ever heard him he asks how close I am. Now I'm amped thinking there is another one and all he says is "I got him!"
When I got to him a was shocked at how big the deer was.
He tells me how it went down and that he saw 3 other bucks before this one came out. We booked it to the top of this rock out cropping and started glassing up the canyon. After about 10 minutes he locates one of the bucks. I move to his location and he tries to tell me where it is and I can't find it anywhere. Well I didn't bring anything up on the rocks with me but binos and rifle. He decides he will go get my pack and tells me to stay watching the deer.
I sat there watching this tree trying to pick out the deer but never can. Finally a doe walks up to the tree and this little buck gets out from under the tree. Its to little for me especially after seeing what he had shot. So we got his dad up there and he didn't care how big it was. We range it at 411 and he shoots and drops it with one shot.
We spent the rest of the morning cleaning and hauling meat off the hills. Then we spent the rest of the day trying to find another area to hunt.
The next morning we went into the Jackson cabin area and ended up finding a bunch a does but no bucks and a lot of hunters. So we decided to go back to the first area.
Sunday morning we got up and I decide to do about the same thing as the first day. I found 3 bucks that were moving over a ridge to a deep draw. I had to get moving and busted butt over to where they disappeared.
After glassing for about a hour I was finally able to locate them. They were at 680 yards feeding up a draw. I didn't feel comfortable shooting that far even though I practiced and had my chart.
I made the decision to get closer and if I could get it under 500 yards I could take the shot. My cousin was with me and we picked out a group of rocks that we could get to without being noticed.
When we got to the rocks I started trying to find them again but couldn't see them. I decided I had enough supplies to just sit there until dark, mind you it was 9am. My cousin finally found the biggest buck in the group and pointed him out to me. He was standing perfectly broadside to us at 460 yards. I got a solid rest and made my scope adjustments. I placed my crosshairs on him and for the life of me couldn't control my breathing. So I backed off and just sat back on my butt. I finally calmed down and got back on the gun. The deer was still standing looking our way. I placed the crosshairs on him again and started to squeeze the trigger, when it finally broke and I was able to get back on him he was still there. I couldn't believe it how did I miss. I rack another in and get ready to fire again when my cousin yells no it is another deer.
We packed up and walk up to the area he was standing and pick up a blood trail. He ran maybe 50 yards and piled up into a tree. I ended up hitting him more forward than I wanted and got him in the neck. I got lucky and got the jugular vein and he bled out.
We got pictures and cleaned him up and back to camp. The 4th member of our party was starting to not want to keep going, but we talked him into going one more day.
The next day we went back into the same area and he ends up taking the smallest one because it ran 200 yards in front of him.
We finished the trip off with some quail hunting and predator calling. We got 3 foxes and a bunch of gambles and scaled quail to end the trip.
I do have to say that Arizona hunters make Utah hunters look bad. Everyone we talked to was so nice and respectful. One guy even said we could hunt the same area as him. I told him in Utah they would say that the whole mountain was taken because they were there first.
He laughed and said he had heard that and then said that we were welcome to stop at his camp any time and have a beer. We talked to 3 or 4 more camps and they all said the same thing. It was nice to see how it really should be.
Anyway I can't wait to do it again next year!
Heres some more pictures.
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