Western Hunter Magazine July/August 2019 #70 - Page 70

WESTERN HUNTER MAGAZINE NEXT-LEVEL TACTICS p Deer Slam Chasing a deer slam on over-the-counter tags Remi Warren hunting editor 70 WESTERN HUNTER N orth America is home to a variety of big game, but none are more widely hunted than deer. As you take a closer look at deer regionally, you find the various species of deer avail- able to hunt are wildly different. Physical charac- teristics change, as does terrain, vegetation, and tactics. These differences are what make chasing a deer slam such a challenge. Completing it is a great testament to your skills as a hunter. I used to refer to a deer slam as the slam you can afford, unlike hunting all the species of sheep, which may require a guide and steep costs. A deer slam can be completed on public land, unguided, and with OTC tags. North American deer can be broken down into five main species: mule deer, whitetail deer, Coues deer, Columbia blacktail deer, and Sitka blacktail deer. While most hunters are very familiar with mule deer and whitetail, Coues and blacktail hunts are less in the spotlight. Their distribution is re- stricted to a few states and areas, making it a spe- cial trip for most hunters. I first became interested in the idea of a deer slam in college. The idea of trying different hunts intrigued me. I set out with the intent to take one of each species with both a gun and bow. With a little research, I found that this could all be done on (OTC) tags on public land. Having taken both mule deer and whitetails in various places already, I chose to first investigate Columbia blacktails in California, followed by Coues deer in Arizona, and finally Sitka blacktails on Alas- ka’s Kodiak Island. Over the course of a few trips and a few years, I was able to complete my slam on DIY OTC hunts. I’ll lay out a few of the places to start looking for tags for the three lesser hunted species, as well as some tips for hunting them. Chasing the five species of deer is a ton of fun and an obtainable goal for most dedicated hunters. The hunts pro- vide a ton of new adventure and really test your skills as a hunter. Coues Deer Species profile: These small desert-dwelling whitetails are found in the mountains of southern Arizona, New Mexico, and south of the border in Mexico. They stand anywhere from 30"-37" at the shoulder and generally weigh less than 100 lbs., with some of the bigger mature deer breaking the 100-lb. mark. They rut from late December through January. This is often the best time to chase them as they can be incredibly hard to locate at other times of year. Tag cost (AZ): Nonresident hunting license – $160; deer tag – $300 (archery) or $315 (rifle). www.westernhunter.net