Monday, June 19, 2017

Coues Deer

The Coues or Arizona white-tailed deer is a subspecies of the white-tailed deer found in southern Arizona, mostly the southeastern part, southwestern New Mexico and Mexico, including all of Sonora and portions of Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Nayarit and Durango. It is named after Elliott Coues, a naturalist, pronounced "cows," but almost always said "coos." It is the second smallest subspecies of white-tailed deer, after the Key deer of the Florida Keys, with bucks rarely weighing more than 100 pounds and does averaging about 65 pounds. Their eyes have white halos around them, their muzzle a white band across it, and a broad tail with a white underside and gray to reddish-black on top. 
Coues deer between Diablo Mountains and Ajo Mountains in southern Arizona. Note the white eye halos, white line on the muzzle and reddish flag tail. 
They inhabit "desert islands," the mountain ranges of the region, usually from about 3,000 to 9,000 feet elevation. Some consider it the hardest big-game animal to hunt and call it the "grey ghost," because of its ability to vanish from view in a small amount of cover. Jack O'Connor, the Shooting Editor of Outdoor Life magazine for 31 years, which I subscribed to as a youth, called the Coues deer the "most difficult of all deer to kill" because it is so wary and is found in such difficult and inhospitable habitat.  
Examples of them using ground cover to hide. 

Good luck spotting this one. It is to the left of the photo. 
I was in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in mid-June where the daytime temperature was 108 degrees. I took the Ajo Mountain Drive at about 6:00 a.m., when the temperature was in the high 70s or low 80s, and had just crossed over the Diablo Mountains and was heading up toward Arch Canyon in the Ajo Mountains when a deer spooked in front of me and ran for cover in the thick creosote bushes, interspersed with saguaro cactus and chain-fruit cholla. I stopped the car and got out with my camera and got intermittent views of two does hidden in the creosote, often looking at me and usually quite hidden by vegetation. They did not spook, but ambled away quite casually, but also quite well camouflaged. I've been to Organ Pipe about 15 times and these are the first deer I've ever seen there. 
Raised white flag as the Coues deer ambles beneath a chain fruit cholla. 
Another shot of the flag.
A short drive forward, maybe a quarter mile, I spotted a coyote off the side of the road. I only got a very poor, blurry picture of it. 
Poor picture of a coyote. 


  1. I'm glad you were hunting with a camera and not a shot gun, and I hope that coyote wasn't looking for Coues deer for dinner.

  2. Let's hope that coyote was searching for the road runner.