The One That Got Away

The One That Got Away

By John Stallone

If you would like to Watch this episode check it out here


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My friends and family that don’t live and hunt here in AZ never really understand the difficulty, physicality and skill that is required to be a consistently good Coues deer hunter so when I get the opportunity to take hunters from the east or midwest to experience the trials and tribulations of hunting Coues deer in my home state of Arizona…. I jump on it…..  Because unless you experience it…you just don’t know…..

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This year my friend Drew Chicone drew a Nov Coues tag in southern AZ in a very popular and in my opinion over hunter unit, but it’s a unit I know well and have had great success in… Drew and I met because in 2013 he won free hunt giveway we were doing with The Hunting Channel and he could not make it on the hunt so I promised him I would take him hunting when he drew a tag.  Drew is one of the world’s top salt water fly fisherman… winner of the 2014 IFTA iron tie fly Championship amongst many other accolades…. Being a writer like me I found him and I had a lot in common and having just moved to AZ we became quick friends…

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We only had 3 days to make it happen and by all accounts the unit was not having a good year very poor success rate on previous hunts and few sighting of mature deer… plus as often have that time of year it was gonna be raining the whole trip.  With odds stacked again us we made it down in good spirits


The first day I visited all my old haunts and after Hours of glassing we could not turn up a buck….  The next morning I decided to switch gear a bit and hit one of my bow hunting spots that generally holds good bucks later in the season…. The whole morning was spent glassing in the rain and fog with few deer spotted but we were determined to find drew a deer..


That afternoon we turned our focus on some of the lower hills coming off the mountain hoping to catch a buck cursing again does, and more does.. I was starting to think we were never gonna even see a buck on this trip… when Drew spots a doe high up on a ridge that he wasn’t sure was a doe.. I repositioned myself to have a look and while looking for Drew’s deer I spotted a buck bedded down 50 yards or so from the deer I was looking for… 

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I knew we had to move fas t the deer were a long ways off, we had just got a break in the rain and we had about 50 mins left of light. We dropped some gear and made a dash for it.. after running for nearly a mile we found ourselves within 500 yards of the buck I stopped to grab a look at him and what we though was his doe happened to be another small buck that we could not make out in the fog from that far away… So Drew in fact had spotted the first buck not bad for a guy who fly fishes for a living….  12 5 2014 025

 The bucks were moving up the ridge and I new they would go over or drop in the saddle soon we closed another 50 yards and got set up. Now I don’t know if it was the excitement of the situation or what we all get caught up in the moment sometimes everything about the situation was telling me don’t shoot come back tomorrow morning you don’t have a lot of time, its misting out, it’s a long shot but I made the call for him to take a shot anyway.


Well Drew’s shot was marginal and he had hit the buck in the liver which if you know a liver shot deer can go a long ways even though they bleed a lot. Im already embarrassed by this hunt but I made a packed with myself years ago that I would show the good with the bad….. Well the comedy of errors continued it started to drizzle again and I made the call to go after him while we still had some light… we raced to the top and quickly found blood at the impact site but then no blood there after.. I wanted to find the direction he was running before it got dark so we could make a plan to recover him in the morning.

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After finding the second spot a of blood the trail got heavy and I made the call to go after him because I was afraid that if I let him lay the night the rain which was getting heavier would wash away the blood and we would not find him…  after about 75 yards or so we jumped him up just before dark running down hill and towards the truck. Drew and I sat for 30 mins in the dark and then took up the trail again  only to jump him a second time 150 yard down the trail. About this time the rain got very heavy and the blood trail was getting very hard to follow until there was no more trail… we searched until late that night got ourselves turned around in the dark not having GPS or battery life in our phones we were both tired hungry and the charge on our flash lights was nearing their end. We decide it wasn’t worth putting ourselves in harms way and that we should concentrate on finding the truck and come back to look in the morning…  Drew and I were devastated and overwhelmed with the feeling of defeat and I was ashamed of my poor decision making  we finally made it back around midnight to catch a few hours of sleep before we hit the mountain again the next morning…


Drew and I walked up and own that ridge I don’t know how many times but it was enough to blow Drew’s boots out we finally called it quits around 2 that afternoon and decided to head home 12 5 2014 049 12 5 2014 047


Definitely not my finest moments in the field but I’m telling this story so you can learn from my mistakes and not have to endure what we did on this hunt…. Sometimes when you feel like you need to go go go…. its better just to take a step back and slow down


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