Mike Armstrong - Coues Deer Hunt - Dec 2012

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I was invited by Matthew Ament to come out to Arizona to Bow Hunt for Coues Deer in Mid December.  Although I wanted to hunt everything, I didn't have very much experience shooting a bow.  Matthew made Bowhunting sound like the best thing under the sun regardless of what you were hunting.  There was a high level of skill, stealth and accuracy needed for Bowhunting and this sounded exactly like what I was searching for with hunting.  So I’ll have 25 days to prepare for this hunt in the Mountains of Globe, Arizona and I have never shot a bow before!  Since I had about 25 days to get ready for this hunt out of state, there was a large learning curve and a large amount preparation for this hunt needed.  First thing I did is go to Cabela's and bought one of their top of the line of compound bows and some arrows.  I knew that Matthew had a Mathews Bow for me to hunt with when I got to Arizona, but I had to get down the technique.  The first night I bought it, I figured that I would get familiar with the bow and get in some practice in my basement.    I set up a 10-yard range in my basement and started my Bow shooting adventures.  My first shot, I had the bow extended with a 70 lb. pull and squeezed the trigger.  Thwakkkkk.  The arrow flew down my indoor range and hit the target right above the bullseye.  However, I was squeezing the bow pretty tight and the string had struck my arm pretty solid and instantly I had a welt the size of softball on my left forearm arm.  My wound had ended my night but I knew this was going to be a long 25 days if I don’t get this straightened out.  I searched YouTube for some videos on the proper way to shoot a bow, so with minor adjustments; I was no longer hitting my arm the first shot. That week, I found an outdoor range at Busch Wildlife that had 10-40 yard targets, so that would become my home course.  I was shooting around 30 arrows 5-7 times a week and I was getting better groupings and accuracy.  After many trips to Cabela's and Bass Pro Shop for everything, I felt I was ready for my hunting adventures. Wheels up!!  I land in Phoenix and spend the next day prepping the Dodge Ram for our trip.  Truck loaded and we are on the road to Globe, AZ.   Once we arrive in Globe, we unpack our gear and head up the mountain to get me familiarize with the location of the stand and the terrain of the mountain.   It takes about 30-45 minutes to get to our drop off location at 7000 ft.   Up and down the mountain at 10 pm in the snow was a challenge, but helped in my mental preparation for the next mornings hunt.  Now to get some food, rest and in the stand by 6 am. The next morning, we head up the mountain at 4 am and the higher we get, the more it is snowing.  Matthew and I will be hunting about a mile apart so we bid our “good lucks” and “happy huntings” and part ways.mike2 copy Before I ascent down the path to my stand I run a quick check:  Gear, bow, headlamp, manhood.........quickly in hand.  I am hunting in an area for deer that is heavily populated mountain lions, time to man up.  The trip down to the stand is quick and the trail markers Matthew left for me, guide me right in. By this time, it is roughly 5:30 am and I am in a full sweat.  Its still dark out, so I turn off my headlamp, sit still for a while to calm my body and also to let the forest go back to calm.  I am figuring I have about an hour until first light, so I give it about 30 minutes of no movement.  Mind you, we are in the middle of a snow storm, so I am sitting in a tree stand in the dark, getting pelted by snow and freezing rain and I cannot see my hand in front of my face with who knows what animals lurking around me.  Man up. First light comes and by now I have deer envy, I think every shadow is a deer and every deer is a big, trophy buck.  Around 6:45, there enough light and quiet, I had set up my camera, put on my release and I am ready.  By 7:15 the camera is on and I have deer all around me mainly does, fawns and a spikes or two.  I have hit the jackpot, now we just have to find the biggest buck of the bunch, sight it in and let it fly.  At around 7:30, a group of bucks come in and chase out some of the does but I have about 5 deer in total around me now.  Feeding, playing and chasing.  This is my opportunity and I know it.  With all of the snow falling around me, the sound of the snow provides me a little cover so the deer can’t hear my every movement.  My heart is beating out of my chest at this point, at the time I reach for my bow and I am thinking that the deer can hear and sense my nervousness and excitement.  I have picked out the biggest one and he looks like a 6 pointer. Let’s do this. Slowly, I attach my release to the nock loop, slowly raise the bow inline with my body to not alert or spook any of the deer.  He is broadside to me, the ideal shot.  I put the pin on him, heart and lungs placement, roughly 20 yards and without thinking, pulled the release.  Arrow is lumenocked and flight is awesome to watch until it takes a sharp left and heads about 5 yards left of target.  Oh NO!  I missed!  The arrow struck the base of a tree and all of the bucks scattered.  Fortunately, they only ran about 20 yards.  My assumption is that with all of the snow and ice falling, they were not clear that an arrow was fired in their direction.  As they slowly made their way back to the area, I was in full panic mode as I replayed the shot in my mind.  What did I do wrong?  Did I jerk the bow with my left hand when I released?  No.  Did I check the level bubble to see if I was level??  NO!!  Did I even look through the peep sight?  There was my problem.  When the bucks scattered, I kept my eye on my target buck.  As he came back in, he chased off a smaller buck and actually hurdled the first arrow I flung.  With the lumenock arrow in clear vision, and my mistakes realized, I nocked another arrow.  Release on, waiting for my next opportunity.  The grey ghost I’m after is slightly quartered away from me, but I have a shot.  Slowly raise the bow again and draw back.  This time, I am telling myself that I have made taken this shot 500 times in the past month.  This is what we came for.  Slowed my breathing, full draw.  Big Sight on: check.  Peep sight on: check.  Bow level check.  Breathe. Breathe.  He has slipped behind two trees but still his kill area exposed in between about an 8-inch area.  I slowly squeeze the release and THWACK!  Hit him exactly where I was aiming.  He attempts to take off and hurdles a log and goes down.  My buck dies about 10 yards from where I shot him.  I wanted to yell, scream, celebrate, but I know there are other hunters in the area.  So fist pumps and air celebrations are in order.  I was only in the stand about 30 minutes of true hunting time and my hunt was done.  Now what.  The area is so busy with deer, I didn’t want to get down and spook all of the other deer.  I stay in the stand another 30-45 minutes before I get down and get over to my deer.  I realized that the other deer that come in instantly recognize that there is a dead deer and end up bypassing the area.  I was able to contact matt on the walkie-talkie to get him to help.  I wasn’t sure what the best way to get the deer out of this location without completely ruining the hunting location for weeks.  In addition, where do I take it?  The deer was a pretty good sized Coues deer and he had 3 points on one side and 2 horns on the other and roughly weighed 160 lbs. Matthew decided we needed to field dress the deer in another location but had to get the deer to the truck.  What I failed to tell you earlier is that the stand is about 400-500 yards down the side of the mountain at a 60-70 degree incline.  Both of us grabbed a horn and drug the deer up the mountain about 50 yards a clip before my lungs completely gassed out.  This was probably the most challenging workout I had done in my life.  When we finally got my 3x2 tagged and in the back of the Dodge, that was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life.  Although I am back home, I am looking forward to getting back on the mountain.  I am hooked for life. Mike Armstrong Mathews Drenalin