Eddie Claypool on Do-It-Yourself Deer Hunting

Eddie Claypool with his DIY Arizona Coues deer that scored a fantastic 104 inches.

Eddie Claypool with his DIY Arizona Coues deer that scored a fantastic 104 inches.

Tom Miranda of the Whitetail SLAM has authored a new book, The Rut Hunters. This Tom Miranda blog features excerpts from that book.

Of his beginning in the Coues deer quest, Eddie Claypool of Oklahoma remembers quite well his initial planning for his trip into the desert.

“The first year was 1994 and I just decided to give Coues deer a try, so I called a biologist in Arizona and chatted with him about areas to hunt. I loaded my truck and drove to the southeast part of Arizona, and then pretty much toured through the available ground in New Mexico too. I was just trying to figure out where they lived.”

Claypool has been at the do-it-yourself hunting game for his entire life, and the willingness to figure out what animals are prone to do in a new area is one of the cornerstones of his success.

Traveling in search of deer – in any region on your own – will almost certainly subject you to a learning curve that you’ve long forgotten on your home hunting ground. But, paying close
attention to habitat, sign and deer sightings will expedite the learning process and put you in a better position to fill a tag.

“During that first trip I settled into some mountain foothills on a huge piece of public land. I chose a site for my base camp and just started scouting on foot, with the mindset that I needed to look at new ground every single day until I figured something out. It was a new experience hiking into the manzanita, oaks and desert mesquite looking for any sign of Coues deer.

“As I began to find a few deer I started to spot-and-stalk them, but it quickly became apparent that I was going to have a tough row to hoe in that department. Sneaking up on them was a losing battle for me and even when I did get into range I had a hard time getting off a shot given the terrain. It was frustrating, however, I started finding rubs, scrapes and well-used trails and
I started to wonder if I couldn’t hunt them like the whitetails in the Midwest. I began sitting only 10 or 12 feet up in some of the oaks, because that is as high as you can get, and I actually started having a few encounters.”

Forcing a tactic of any sort is a hunt-killer as Claypool demonstrated with his early forays into Coues deer country. This is extremely common with traveling hunters who live off the tactics they use for success at home. It’s crucial to remember that deer of all subspecies vary greatly in their willingness to play the game your way, and a buck in one region might not care one whit about your rattling sequence – while a buck 1,000 miles away in a different region might charge in with complete reckless abandonment.

Then of course, there are the variances between individual deer, environmental influences, season timing, hunting pressure, and a host of other factors that influence how to hunt a specific spot. Pay attention to your instincts and keep an open mind and you’ll find yourself adapting much better to the challenge of traveling to hunt. Better yet – you’ll be more successful.

Get Tom Miranda’s new book here now: The Rut Hunters.


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