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Coues Deer

1997 New Mexico Coues Deer

Coues deer are the tiny subspecies of whitetails that live in southern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, and northern Mexico. They're typically every bit as spooky as their larger cousins in the rest of the Whitetail family, with their senses constantly tested by the mountain lions that share their homes.

There been a fairly endless discussion of whether it's pronounced "Cows", as did Elliott Coues, the man who first identified them as a distinct species, or "Cooz". All hunters of this little deer say "Cooz", so go with that unless you want to sound ridiculous. Arizonans have avoided the issue to an extent -- they just call them "whitetails."

Classic hunting for coues deer involves using large tripod-mounted optics to spot and stalk bedded deer in open country. Note, though, that this is not always the case. I've seen them in more heavily wooded areas (such as the San Carlos Apache Reservation east of Phoneix), and will be hunting them in the timber in November of 2007.

Because of the tradition of open country hunting for coues, flat-shooting rifles optimized for long-range work are in vogue for coues hunting. These guns are typically far heavier in caliber than you would expect for such a small animal. Traditionally, though, guns like the .25-06 and 270 have been coues classics. The only coues I killed (in New Mexico way back in 1997) I took at 40 yards with a .30-06 shooting 165 grain Game Kings. For my upcoming November hunt, I'm planning on using my 7mm-08 and leaving my .300 WinMag at home.

Coues venison is excellent, and the mount of a coues I have in my living room is the favorite of all my taxidermy. They're neat little deer, and I'm looking forward to hunting them again.

State Notes General Tag Quality Limited Tag Quality Odds of Drawing Limited Tags Strategy
Arizona Referred to as simply "whitetails" in Arizona. Arizona is a great place to get a great deer, but you'll have to choose between mule deer and coues deer. Given the quality of Arizona mule deer, I go for them, since they're harder to draw and I don't want to give up my bonus points. N/A Average to Excellent Poor to Average Save your bonus points for mule deer instead.
New Mexico When New Mexico pulls your application out of the hat, they look at all 3 of your choices. This means that you can apply for both premier mule deer hunts and coues hunts without having to make any tough decisions about bonus points. N/A Average Poor to Average Apply!
Old Mexico This is the place to go. Great numbers and trophy quality, but it will be an outfitted hunt. Pick your outfitter carefully, otherwise you may experience a lot of problems. Good chance at a Boone and Crockett animal. Excellent N/A N/A Book a trip if you're willing to pay about $5,000 for a good hunt.