Size Isn’t Everything – The Coue’s Deer
There is one whitetail hunt that stands out as completely different from all others. It is actually more like a sheep hunt than a typical deer hunt.
There is lots of glassing, hiking through the mountains, typically long shots, and there is a good bit of travel for most hunters to get to the right areas. The Coue’s whitetail is a different animal indeed, and many who hunt the gray ghost of the desert become addicted to the challenge. Male Coue’ s deer generally weigh less than 100 pounds, and they are only larger than the tiny Key deer of south Florida as far as whitetails go.
Their grayish brown coats blend in perfectly with the arid landscape they inhabit in the mountains and foothills of Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico. These areas can be quite brushy, and thus these small deer are very hard to spot.
A typical Coue’s hunt finds hunters spending lots of time behind quality binoculars and spotting scopes scanning likely areas from a distance in an attempt to locate quality bucks.
On my last Coue’s hunt in Sonora, the rut was in full swing, so deer movement and action were high. We were there the last few days of January and the first few days of February, and for once I seemed to hit peak movement perfectly.
We saw many bucks each day, but we were looking for a buck that would break the 110” Boone and Crockett mark. There were bucks chasing does all over the mountains, and we saw a lot of movement down in canyons as well.
Much of the spotting was from ½ to a full mile away, so good glass was very important. What I did find interesting was that when you saw a big mature Coue’s buck, you knew it immediately. A big buck looks just the same as a big Midwestern whitetail, just downsized. The rack looks proportionally big, they have a pot belly, saggy back, deep check and even Roman nose. They are truly a cut down version of any other whitetail.
After a few days of glassing, we found two mature bucks tangled in a real fight over a hot doe. Their preoccupation gave us the time to make an 800 yard stalk, and we ran out of terrain literally on a cliff above them.
The loser of the battle slipped off into the brush, and the victor lay down in the shade of a pine in full view. When I got set up above him, he was 301 yards away, and with the small target, I waited for over 30 minutes for him to stand and present a perfectly broadside shot.
When I squeezed the trigger of my .25-06 and sent the 115 grain Winchester Ballistic Silvertip to its mark, the B&C buck jumped straight into the air, made another bounce about 10 yards, and he was down for good. The great 9-pointer ended up scoring 116”, and provided one of the most unique hunts of my life.
I grew up shooting the .25-06 as a kid on Pennsylvania whitetails, and a Coue’s hunt was a perfect opportunity to get it back out and get back to my roots. The Win. 115-grain Silvertips are perfect for this job. They are fast and flat shooting at 3060fps, and the bullet itself is seemingly custom made for small deer and antelope.
There is very rapid controlled expansion that causes quick and severe trauma upon impact of the Ballistic Silvertip, and this results in great knockdown power, even from a relatively small bullet. I have also found these bullets among the most accurate of anything I have ever shot whether they be from my .22-250, .223 or .25-05. They did quite the job on the Coue’s.
Any whitetail hunter that enjoys stalking, beautiful terrain and a lot of glassing should make it a priority to give Coue’s hunting at least one try. I haven’t met many passionate deer hunters who have tried Coue’s and didn’t just fall in love with it.