Arizona offers over-the-counter (OTC) archery hunts for both Coues Deer and Mule Deer. Most folks are dazzled by mule deer, and for good reason. However, Coues Deer are extremely challenging and often underrated. You can hunt both species on the same archery tag and their territories often overlap but focusing on Coeus Deer is a rewarding experience.
Finding a unique OTC tag like this one is also just plain difficult. You can punch a mule deer tag in numerous western and midwestern states but the romance of chasing coues deer across desert mountains is a very limited geographical possibility. Arizona just happens to offer the best odds for archery hunters without requiring an application or bonus points.
Coues Deer are a sub-species of the whitetail family. They run on the smaller end, typically weighing under 100-pounds. The deer are tough as nails and are built to live in the land of cactus and brush. Mule deer stand out in this country and use the open visual to their advantage but coues deer retain that elusive whitetail nature and they work through the big desert landscape while maintaining a very low profile.
Their elusive nature has earned them the Grey Ghost nickname and it is well deserved. The toughest stretches of desert in southern Arizona are dominated by the Coeus deer. They also overlap with mule deer in a number of areas as well.
Rifle tags for coeus deer are limited and you must apply. The OTC archery hunts open the door to a great desert hunt in December and January during the rut. Chasing Coues deer with a bow is very difficult but hunting the rut helps by creating more opportunities on deer while they are slightly more vulnerable.
Don’t mistake the rut for an easy ticket however. You still need to find the water sources, find higher density areas, and glass like crazy. Glassing the first and last light is absolutely critical for Coues deer. They tend to pop a little more when the low light reflects off their backs.
Once found, you can build out your strategy and really plan a stalk. Like whitetails, these deer are alert, suspicious and difficult to approach. Expect to move extra slow while weaving through brushy terrain to gain a shooting vantage.
Antler Canyon Outfitters focuses on areas with strong numbers to present a higher number of opportunities. Knowing the annual and habitual movements of the Coeus Deer greatly amplifies your odds of success. Our multiple camp locations also offer the flexibility to rotate through the most productive hunting areas available.
If you’d like to chat with us about planning your Arizona Coues deer hunt, please contact us online or call Toby at (928) 205-8911.