When Opportunity Knocks

By David Divito
Arizona, 2011, DIY, Public Land

David Divito - When Opportunity KnocksMay/June 2012 EBJ (Issue 71) - Just as I pulled my eyes away from my tripod-mounted binoculars, a pale silver flash coming over the next ridge below captured my attention. It was a doe and her fawn and they looked like miniatures compared to the mulies we were watching earlier in the morning. With a wrinkled forehead I whispered to Boze, "Coues’ deer? Down here?” As he nodded his head in confirmation, we watched them work toward a little bowl that held a few scrubby trees in the open rolling desert terrain.

When I asked Boze if he was surprised to see Coues’ in the lower desert elevations he told me he was a few years ago, but not now. Thirsty for more knowledge, I asked if he had ever harvested one with his bow. His grin said enough and with a slight chuckle he responded, "No!” I assumed I had asked a dumb question, and with no shame, I continued. I asked him if the reason he chuckled was because they were so challenging to sneak up on. He agreed it was difficult to get within bow range of these little gray ghosts. In his estimation, the best chances of harvesting a Coues’ with archery tackle would require sitting near the groceries in a blind all day and that didn’t excite him much.

We ventured down the road to our next glassing spot for javelina. After all, that was what I was hunting and my aspiration for my first archery harvest. I felt that a javelina would provide a great stepping-stone for me to hone my stalking skills before pursuing a more wary quarry. The OTC deer permit I purchased was merely a pipe dream, almost as much so as the lion tag I carry in my pocket every year. Surely, if I didn’t have it with me, then I would need it.

Later that afternoon, while sitting high up on our perch picking apart the hillsides, I heard a soft whistle from behind. Boze had the inside of his wrists against his temples, with his fingers spread apart, as if he was holding an imaginary watermelon on top of his head; the universal sign for buck! I snuck up next to him and he directed my optics to the shaded hillside of an east-facing slope. That was when I first saw the mature Coues’ buck comfortably staring right at us from the bed he made in some tall grass. Overwhelmed with excitement, I didn’t even look at him for more than a few seconds.

Being a polite guest, I asked Boze if he was going to go after him. With an all-too-familiar looking grin he shook his head: No. I then asked Mike if he wanted to put a stalk on him and he also declined. I’ll never forget looking into their eyes and saying, "I know one thing for sure, that buck isn’t going to go home with us if we just sit here looking at him!” We discussed my plans for a stalk and they wished me luck as I dropped off the hilltop.

Once I felt I had covered enough distance to be directly across the canyon from him, an irresistible curiosity forced me to creep upward where I crouched down behind a jojoba bush. Our eyes met and the buck was staring directly across at me, 97 yards away. I froze, realized I couldn’t back out without being busted, and figured that was where my story would end.

An hour had passed and both of us remained motionless. He rotated his head a couple of times, but only briefly before locking his glare back into my nervous eyes. My right foot that served as an uncomfortable chair was completely numb and all the muscles in my legs and torso were trembling. I had plenty of time to think to myself and I wondered if those guys thought I was a fool for even trying.

David Divito - When Opportunity Knocks

For a full account of David's adventure, go to page 38 in the May/June 2012 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.