A Fascination with Coues Whitetail…

Today’s blog comes from one of our country’s most recognized wildlife biologists/outdoor writers/television show host of Trailing the Hunter’s Moon , Larry Weishuhn.  Although universally known as “Mr. Whitetail”, Larry trails the “Hunter’s Moon” throughout the world in search of big game hunting adventures. Tune in for this weeks episode of Trailing the Hunter’s Moon Monday at 3:00 PM ET, Tuesday at 6:30 PM ET, Fridays at 6:30 PM ET and Saturdays at 9:30 AM ET.

Somewhat diminutive gray body, larger ears, thick set smaller antlers, and a tail that is “carried” parallel to the back rather than perpendicular, eyesight that is comparable to desert bighorn sheep and a demeanor that is uncanny and wary where his kind can hide in a minimum of cover…  This pretty well describes the Coues or Arizona whitetail particularly when compared to our “regular” whitetail!

Over the past many years my vocation and avocation could have been described as a whitetail deer biologist, writer and hunter!  And while I dearly love the “regular” whitetail, I have been enamored with the small subspecies of whitetail that inhabits the high desert country of the Southwest, specifically such habitat as can be found in southern New Mexico, Arizona and the the Mexico provinces primarily of Chihuahua and Sonora, Mexico.  My introduction to them came about by reading about them in hunting journals and specifically in books written by Jack O’Connor, in another era described as the “Dean of Outdoor Writers”.  He wrote of the Coues whitetail with great reverence and even awe of their abilities to evade hunters.  Then too, I have always been personally enamored and fascinated with the cactus, thorn brush and rocks of the southwestern deserts.

Larry Weishuhn’s guide,Chapo Juvera, glasses the Mexico desert for a trophy Coues Deer.

The Arizona whitetail or Coues deer was first described a military surgeon many years ago, when Arizona was being “settled”, by Elliot Coues (he pronounced his name “Cooooos” rather than “Cows”, as today the subspecies is often called.  But it makes no difference whether you call his kind “Coos” or “Cows”, he is one of the more challenging and fun deer, if not big game animals to hunt in North America.

Hunting this species generally involves hours and hours of “glassing”, finding a spot where you can cover a fair amount of ground.  Remember too, Coues whitetail live in the upper foothill and higher mountains of the Southwest, whereas mule deer are most often found in the valleys and flatlands of the desert.  Glassing requires using the best possible binocular and spotting scopes, the reason I rely in my Zeiss optics.  In glassing for Coues deer you seldom look for the full body of the deer, but primarily for the wiggle of an ear, the shine or glint of light from antlers or a moist nose.  Once spotted the decision has to be made to to get closer. Sometimes that’s possible and sometimes it isn’t.

Larry Weishuhn with his trophy Coues Deer from Sonora Dark Horn Adventures

I’ve been fortunate to take some truly nice Coues deer bucks.  Any mature buck scoring 100 or more by Boone & Crockett or Pope & Young should be considered an extremely good and fine buck. But the adventure of hunting Coues is the great measure of the hunting experience.

If you consider yourself an “Ace” when it comes to hunting whitetail deer, might I suggest you try your hand at hunting the “Grey Ghost of the Southwest Desert”!

Larry Weishuhn, known for many years as “Mr. Whitetail” is the host and owner of “Trailing the Hunter’s Moon” seen exclusively on Sportsman Channel during the 3rd and 4th quarters.  Check our website for air times and dates in your area.