Sunday, October 19, 2014

10 Early Season Coues Deer Hunting Tips

By Darr Colburn
Darr Colburn with a 100 inch early season coues deer buck.
Lots of hunters will being hitting the hills over the next few weeks to hunt coues deer on the early hunts.  The early hunts offer some great draw odds and you can usually draw a tag every year.  These hunts are easy to draw but the high tag numbers, hot temperatures and low deer movement can make for a tough hunt.  The hunter success rates on the early hunts are generally pretty low.  We have been on these early hunts many times and had some good success.  Here are a few tips that we have learned over the years.  Good luck on your hunts!

1.  Get to your glassing points before light.  Lots of times deer are moving as it gets light and if you are not glassing you may miss a buck moving or feeding.  Hot daytime temperatures can limit deer movement to a few hours a day.  Take a headlamp and plan on walking in and out in the dark.  Glassing until dark also increases your chances of picking up a buck right at dark.

2.  Don't go back to camp during the middle of the day.  Pack a lunch and stay out all day.  Have you ever noticed from your trail cameras that coues deer usually hit water between 10am and 2pm?  Lots of times the middle of the day can be your best chance to glass up a buck.  By staying out glassing all day you may pick up a buck headed to get a drink mid day.  Coues deer rarely stay bedded all day long.  Even if the deer are not moving around very much due to hunter pressure, hot temperatures or a full moon they usually will get up and stretch and browse for a few minutes every few hours.  As the sun and shadows change deer will often get up when the sun hits them and move back into the shade.  This may be your opportunity to spot your buck. 

3.  When the temperatures are hot focus on the north slopes and shaded areas.  The north slopes and shaded areas usually offer more cover and cooler temperatures.  Coues deer will seek out these areas to bed in.  Glassing the north slope and shaded areas usually means you will be glassing in the sun.  Take a floppy hat and sunscreen to keep you from getting sun burned.

4.  Mount your binoculars on a tripod.  It does not matter if you have Swarovski or Bushnell,  if you mount them on a tripod you will see more!  When your binos are on a tripod your eyes are able to pick up movement and game better.  The Outdoorsmans carries several types of mounts to attach your binos to a tripod.  We like 12, 15 and 32 power binoculars for coues deer hunting.  My 15x56 Swarovski SLCs are my favorite all around coues deer bino.

5.  Be quiet and stealthy.  When you get to your glassing point don't clank tripods, talk loudly or make a lot of noise.  There could be deer within shooting range that you don't want to spook.  I have hunted with lots of people that just don't get that you need to be quiet even when hunting with a rifle.  Act like you would when you are bowhunting and you will seen way more game within rifle range.  Turn your cell phones off or on vibrate!

6.  Know the area or areas you plan on hunting.  It really helps to know glassing points, roads and water sources prior to your hunt.  Get online and put glassing points, trails, water sources and roads into your GPS prior to your hunt.  I spend a huge amount of time looking at the areas I plan on hunting on Google Earth and my topo map program.  I can have all the waypoints plugged into my GPS so I am not wasting valuable time while in the field.  I know how to get in and out of areas I have never been to by plugging waypoints from Google Earth or my topo map program into the GPS.  You can also find road less areas where there will be less people. 

7.  Get away from roads and other hunters.  If you can hike into areas away from other hunters you will typically see more bucks.  Most hunters are not going to hike very far from a road.  Cross a large canyon or hike for an hour in the dark and you will be hunting bucks that are less pressured.  If you can't hike very far look in areas that may be overlooked by other hunters like flats, lower desert country or thicker areas that are harder to hunt.

8.  If you have seen bucks scouting before your hunt they will likely be close by.  Bucks typically don't move very far this time of year.  I feel that if you have a big buck spotted the early hunt is your best chance to kill him because they stay in a relatively small area and you get first crack at them.  Don't give up if you don't spot him the first day or two.  Change your glassing location and keep looking where you have seen him before the season.  Persistence usually pays off.

9.  Once you spot a buck you would like to shoot don't take your eye off of him.  If the buck is in range get set up and shoot.  If you have a buddy with you they can watch the buck while you get set up or move into position.  If you are alone watch the buck until he beds before making a stalk.  Take note of land marks and vegetation around where the buck is bedded.  Move into position and wait for the buck to stand up and give you a shot.  Sometimes this could mean waiting all day for a buck to get up and give you a shot.  Be patient and don't think the buck is not there just because you can't see him.  Also don't try and get to close.  We usually never get any closer than 250-300 yards.  We have found that anything closer you are more likely to spook a buck without getting a shot.

10.  Know your rifle and where your bullet hits at different yardages.  Most of the bucks we have shot have been at ranges from 300-500 yards.  Sometimes the canyon country that coues deer live in prevent you from getting close.  Carry a rangefinder and know your ballistics.  Practice at the ranges you expect to shoot.  Don't try and shoot a buck a 500 yards if you have not practiced shooting that far.      

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