Coues Deer Obsession


Jimmy Willingham’s  2013 Bomber 120″ Arizona Public Land DIY Coues Whitetail!

Coues Deer Obsession written by Jimmy Willingham

The sun was burning down on us during the summer of 2009.  We were a horse back scouting for our up coming hunt. The previous year we had found a buck in this area with the right genetics to be a big public land monster, if he survived. We soon glassed up a couple bucks under a tree and one of them was big. He had little extras on both sides making him a 7×9.  He resembled the buck we were looking for and was now #1 on our hit list.

It was a super slow wait until October.

Opening day was slow for the most part, but then at last light, there he was! He was with a smaller buck backed up in a pocket surround by steep ravines. We knew backing out and rolling the dice that other hunters would not beat us in there in the morning, would be our only chance.

At first glassing light, we sat on our knob glassing the open rocky mountain side.  “There he is!!!”

A quick plan was made knowing that another hunter could come over and bump the buck at any time. So, we hiked up the rocky bottom and started climbing up the steep mountain side.

After a close encounter with a rattlesnake, we peeked over some rocks to see the smaller buck 150 yards away.  We slowly set up a tri-pod and examined the brush closer.  The big buck was laying downhill from the other buck, looking right toward us. Delvin slipped his rifle over the rocks and made quick work of the buck.

This buck had so much character and history with us.

Delvin's 2009 Arizona 112" Non-typical Coues Whitetail.

Delvin’s 2009 Arizona 112″ Non-typical Coues Whitetail.

2010 was my turn to shoot first!  

As October approached again, the coues bug was getting to me.  The evening before the opener, we glassed the same mountains we have been hunting for several years, but turned up nothing.

The next morning, as gray light approached, we started seeing deer but not one shooter.  We decided to move and as we hiked toward the deer we had seen earlier, we bumped some does which ran in their direction. We sat down to glass the deer over again and spotted a big buck working his way up the ridge. Looking like the deer were spooked, we quickly set up for a long shot. I laid my 7 mag on my pack and found the bigger buck walking up the hill slowly.  At 470 yards, he paused one last time.

Delvin then grabbed his rifle and took aim at the smaller buck. DOUBLE!

Having my daughter, Keigan, with us, made this hunt one I will never forget.

Delvin's buck and Jimmy's 110 inch buck along with Keigan for an opening morning double.

Delvin’s coues and Jimmy’s 110 inch buck along with Keigan for an opening morning double.

Fast forward to 2013.

With pop warner football commitments, we were not able to hunt opening morning or even the second day. We made our way to camp knowing we were behind the ball, so we decided on a spot we hadn’t been to for some time.

We got to our parking spot and made the demanding hike straight up into some country that rarely gets looked at by hunters.  As we got up to a vantage point and started to glass, we glassed up a couple bucks bedded down below us. We sat in the spotting scope and binos for 30 minutes picking apart pieces of horn trying to see what was hidden in the brush. As the sun got higher and the shadows shifted so did the bucks.

One by one they got up and re-positioned themselves. When finally I said, “big buck Delvin!!!”

Delvin looked at me and said,  ”you shoot him!”

I quickly looked back with a reply, ” no it’s your turn!”

Coues Whitetail Deer are without a question, the hardest animal to glass for.  Delvin's buck bedded in the thick brush.

Coues Whitetail Deer are without a question, the hardest animal to glass. Delvin’s buck bedded in the thick brush.

After what seemed like forever arguing, I finally convinced Delvin to grab his rifle and take aim at what we could tell was heavy 3 point.  At 330 yards Delvin made the shot and the buck went down right where he stood. Walking up on the buck we high fived and grinned from ear-to-ear.

This buck grossed 109 inches, which quiet honestly made me question my decision to not shoot the buck when I was given the chance.

Delvin's 109" Public Land Coues Whitetail

Delvin’s 109″ Public Land Coues Whitetail

The next morning, we woke up early and decided to move to some country different country.  Delvin walked South and I walked North to different points.   I was able to pull up  little buck and some does but Delvin called me on the radio, ” I got a buck you might want to look at him.”  I hurried to his point, but quickly realized I didn’t want to shoot this buck.

We continued glassing and every once in awhile we would peak in on the buck.  We did this several times before we realized through the brush behind him, was another deer!  As we sat and waited for the mystery deer to show himself, the anxiety was starting to get to us.

30 minutes later…

I could see it was awesome 3×3 with big split eyeguards.  I reached for my rifle quickly, knowing that before my eyes I had another crack at 100+ inch coues.

I chambered a round and put my scope on him.  As he cleared the brush, I touched one off.

Delvin and I sat and looked at each other for a moment, knowing we had just went 2 for 2 on Coues Deer over 100 inches!