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Elk, Mule Deer and Coues Deer

Hunting Two Species of Whitetails - the Coues and the East Texas Whitetail


Editor’s Note: Mark Hanson lives in Mesa, Arizona, and has been a Mossy Oak ProStaffer for 7 years. His favorite Mossy Oak camo pattern is Treestand. “I like Treestand because I hunt in a lot of dark timber, high in the mountains, and on land that has been burned. Mossy Oak Treestand fits in every type terrain that I hunt.”

I started hunting whitetails in east Texas when I was in high school. We moved to Arizona in 1978, and that’s where I also started hunting Coues deer, elk and mule deer. Because I've hunted both east Texas whitetails and Coues deer, I'm often asked, “What’s the difference in these two subspecies of whitetails when hunting them?” The Coues deer seems to have a larger home range than the east Texas whitetails. Coues have to range farther for food and water and are more of a mountain deer than the east Texas deer. You rarely see the Coues deer below 200 or 300 feet of elevation. 

MarkHanson_day1In east Texas, I hunted whitetails in creek bottoms and hardwood and pine forests. The terrain had more thick vegetation than we have here in Arizona. I was primarily hunting the far northeastern portion of Texas, which was nothing like the brush country in central and south Texas. The shots I took in east Texas were probably at a maximum range of 50 yards. There wasn’t a specific archery season in east Texas, so I could hunt only with a rifle. I hunted out of tree stands there, and here in Arizona I hunt from tree stands also. One of the biggest differences is that in Arizona I primarily hunt with my bow. Using this style of hunting Coues deer, my longest archery shots are usually 40 to 45 yards. Some people use the spot-and-stalk method, or they set up portable blinds over water holes for Coues deer. But during rifle season, most hunters primarily employ spot-and-stalk. 

The best Coues deer I've ever taken scored about 90 inches, and I've harvested eight Coues deer with my bow. When I was hunting in east Texas, my biggest whitetail was a 15-pointer that scored about 150. Generally speaking, the whitetails in east Texas have larger bodies and larger and heavier racks than the Coues deer. 

When I was a youngster growing up, I started shooting a bow. But I didn’t hunt with a bow in east Texas, since the area didn’t have a special season for archery hunting (as I’ve mentioned). I shot YMCA and church camp archery tournaments. When I moved to Arizona, I started shooting in 3D tournaments and just naturally progressed to hunting with a bow. I really enjoy hunting with a bow more than I do hunting with a rifle. Although I still occasionally rifle hunt, I’d say 80 to 90 percent of my hunting is with a bow.

To learn more about hunting, check out John E. Phillips’ new eBook and print book, “Bowhunting Deer: Mossy Oak Pros Know Bucks and Bows.” You also can download a free Kindle app that enables you to read the book on your iPad, computer or Smartphone.

For information on making jerky from your deer to provide a protein-rich snack, you can download a free book from

Tomorrow: Outhunt Public Land Hunters

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