Contributor: Troy Wood
Prey: White tail
Date: January 2012
Location: New Mexico
Years of Experience: 20
As I knelt trying to catch my breath only a few minutes into the day, I looked across the rugged terrain into the near 2,000 feet elevation difference from camp and realized I had accomplished a task few will ever get to attempt.
For the last six days my hunting compadres and I had been facing the harsh weather and great physical strain in our pursuit of the Coues Whitetail here in New Mexico. We had put in for an archery Coues tag somewhat on a whim, not imagining the difference there would be from what we’d experienced in the past years of mule deer hunting. After a long and suspenseful year of waiting we set out to try our hand at this task that so many articles and online comments had promised near impossible. To top things off we had decide that we were going to stick to what we know and use our practiced spot-and-stalk method of hunting.
In the six days we were there, we each lost upwards of 10 pounds, did not see camp in daylight a single time, and truly pushed our physical abilities to their limits. As each of us are active Wildland fire fighters and New Mexico hunting guides, this was a bit more than we expected. After an unknown number of miles walked and even more time spent glassing this unforgiving landscape, the moment of truth happened within just seconds.
We had reached the plateau of our routine climb as the first shooting rays of sunshine unveiled the hillsides around us and we paused for a short minute to settle pulse rates and look over our surroundings. As we stood quietly the small knoll in front of us was suddenly swarmed with a herd of doe Coues deer and lagging a few yards behind, a BUCK!
I made a short effort to position myself within bow-range of where they would pass and readied an arrow. I did not even have time to use my range finder. As I drew my bow, I relied on the skills I have acquired through hours of practice and decided on a range. I struggled to keep my composure as the does fed across in front of me and waited on the leery buck. Here was my chance, I held my pin solidly on him and released.
Every archery hunter has anxiously watched the flight of an arrow which seems to take minutes to reach his target at this adrenaline filled moment. This was that time for me. As my Gold Tip 5575 inched nearer it became evident, I had held true. With the sound of a connecting shot the world took normal speed again and my success played out in front of me. The buck ducked slightly and although I slightly missed my mark, my hit was paralyzing. The buck fell in his tracks and expired quickly.
Although I was the only one of my hunting party to harvest, we all shared this challenge and our trophy. We returned to camp a few minutes before dark and ate better than we had in a week, all of which was celebrated with a new respect of this secluded and unique animal. There aren’t many of these little desert ghosts harvested and even fewer with archery equipment, but all of our hard work and loss of sleep had paid off.