Chasing The Grey Ghost

The back side of the hills that were in front of camp

When you get outside of Tucson on I-19 you enter an area that is right out of a western movie. The Sonoran Desert and all it has to offer starts to surround you. The Santa Rita mountains start to rise up in the distance, and you wonder what you are getting into. Steep ravines, and “hills” that are nearly vertical rise up from the desert floor to form sky islands through out the terrain the vast expanses of cacti, ocotillos, and palo verdes shape the landscape all around you. You are about 20 miles from the boarder of Mexico and you never know what you might see or find while you are out hunting.

Hunters from all around head down to southern Arizona to chase the elusive gray ghost or Couse deer. These deers are about the size of a great dane maybe weighing up to 100 pounds. The thrill of the hunt for these animals is something that every back country hunter should try to do at least once in there life. You hike for miles on hills that seem to never end breaking through brush and trees that poke or stick you. Once you get to the top and catch your breath it is time to finally get in position and start to look for the what you came down to find the elusive grey ghost. You pull your tripod and binoculars out and start scanning the vast desert terrain looking under every tree and bush for a critter that blends right into it all.

The Day Before Opening Day

As we turned off I-19 we made our way down towards the dirt road that would lead us to camp. The true desolation and remoteness of where we were at started to set in. As we continued to drive the desert started to surround us through the twist and turns the road began to narrow and the hills began to grow around us as we finally arrived at our camping spot and the true remoteness set in. As we set up camp I looked around and took in the view we were surrounded by steep slopes and high terrain. On one side over the hill were the Santa Ritas. I was wondering what did I get my self into this isn’t even my hunt I was down there to help a friend and to experience my first couse hunt in true couse territory. It was a lot different then the couse hunts I have done up in the northern parts of Arizona in unit 22. As we got our camp set up dug the pit for the fire were we would make some amazing dinners and dug out the hole for the toilet it was getting closer and closer to start hiking the beasts of the hills that surrounded us. Once we got set up we got our tripods and set our binoculars up we started to glass the surrounding hills. Not realizing how truly small these animals were in the vast terrain, Ray (one other hunters in our group) shouted out “got some does” as I scanned the hills looking where he told us were to spot them, I could not see any thing then Joe said ” I see them now and I think there is a spike with them.” Still frustrated I looked into Joe’s bino’s and set eyes on these deer. We could not tell for sure if it was spike or not so we came up with a game plan to go up and get closer and scout the farther draws and back sides of the desert islands. So the hiking began as we traversed up the side of the first hill pushing through thick brush getting poked and hung up on everything we walked by half way up we jumped 2 does watching these animals easily travel through the thicket and make there way up and over the hill with ease was amazing. Once we got to the first hump on the hill we set up again to glass the hills in hope to find the spike and hopefully some bigger bucks. We glassed for about 2 hours looking under every tree and bush and once again Ray and Joe were spotting them with ease and I on the other hand could not spot these animals to save my life. We spotted up a bunch of does and the same spike. We moved farther up the mountain and continued to glass for more deer for the next day. We glassed up a few does and a nice buck. The sun started to set behind the mountains and we started to work our way back to camp. By the time we got to camp we were drenched in sweat, legs throbbing from the near vertical hikes. As the Sun disappeared behind the Santa-Rita’s we ate dinner the true tranquility of the hunt sat in. We sat around the fire telling hunting stories and just having a great time at deer camp knowing tomorrow the hunt began.

The Hunt Begins

As the Alarms rang out at 4:30 am we fired up the stove heated up the coffee and it was time to go. We headed out to a spot where Joe and Ray scouted earlier in the year that had promise of holding some nice size bucks. As we traveled farther back on the dirt road we got to the spot and started the hike back in to some steep and deep country. With our headlamps and the moon lighting the path we started hiking along the side of steep draw balancing our way we got in a spot to hunker down out of the wind and to start glassing the ravines across and the lower openings below hoping to find sight of the grey ghost finishing up their morning grazing. We scoured underneath every tree and bush and only spotted a few does. Around 10:30 am we started to head back down to get back to camp, and come up with a new game plan. Once we got to camp we glassed the hills again and this time spotted a fork we decided it was time to go back up that intense incline and the hunt was on. We started working our way up the hill taking a different route this time to try to get around the deer and stay with the wind. On the way up we found what appeared to be the begging of an old mine and an old gold pan. We continued up and spooked some does and a fawn up. We got back up to a new glassing spot which allowed us to see directly across on to the hill where we spotted the fork. We glassed the hills for about 2 hours and did not see the fork thinking it might have gone onto the back side we decided to pack up and start heading around the mountain. As we started to hike we spotted an ammo cash stashed under a bush (only could guess who placed that there). As we worked our way around the hill we spotted the fork! As Joe worked his way into shooting position after whacking our way around the hill he got with in 200 yards he lined up and pulled the trigger… He missed we watched the fork go up and over to the back side of the hill and the hunt was back on. We started to work our way all the way to the top of which was a near vertical climb the loose gravel made it near impossible to climb. We got to the back side of the hill (the picture at the start of the article) finally and started to scan the valley below and the draws far off in the distance. We spotted the buck again way off as we watched it graze its way along the side of draws we were at a tough decision with only a little over an hour left of light we had to decide if we would attempt to get into position for a long shot or do we head back down and hope that it is still around tomorrow. Deciding not to pressure it any more and chase it farther out of the area we decided to head back down and call it a day after 7.5 miles of hiking. As we got to camp our legs pulsing harder then the day before. We cooked up some brats on the fire and called it a night not knowing what tomorrow had in store.

Bull snake found on the trail

The day of the strong wind day 3

As the alarms rang again at 4:30 am something was different this day the wind was blowing hard shaking the tents and making it very cold. As we brewed the coffee we huddled around the stove to warm up as we got ready. We decided to go back where we went the previous morning hoping that the steep ravines would act as a shield from the wind. We were wrong as we started to hike back up the ravine the wind was blowing in every which direction not working in our favor. We decided to start glassing mid way up the ridge this time trying to glass something up that is hunkering down low out of the wind. As we started glassing we noticed in the field below people way out were walking towards the valley. Feeling that they would push the deer away we decided to keep climbing up the ravine. On the hike up higher the wind was still blowing and it was cold so cold that we found a bull snake frozen with a full belly from the night before. We worked or way up and got back in position to continue glassing down and higher up on the draws. As we were glassing towards the top we noticed another hunter above us and we decided to move on with all the pressure that was in the area. We drove deeper into the rugged desert looking for prime glassing areas. About another 10 miles into the drive we spotted a location that looked to be promising. It was as we started to glass the hill sides we glassed up 2 big bucks about 400 yards away and the hunt was back on. As Joe and Ray started the stalk I sat back and watched the deer as the meandered along the side of the hill, then suddenly they took off there were two hunters that were walking up the valley below that scared them off as they were being as loud as a rock concert in the desert. When Joe and Ray returned back to where I was at we decided to go back to camp to get some lunch and come back in a few hours hoping that the deer would return. As we got back to camp we ate some lunch and started glassing the hills by camp just to see if any deer where close by and worth trying to go after. Long behold there was on the first hill right by camp there was the fork again and a doe Joe and I hopped out of camp and started to go toward where we saw the buck and doe. As we got about 300 yards from camp we spotted the doe not more then 100 yards from us just barely out side of some thick brush as we sat and watched the doe patiently knowing the buck was near the buck appeared from behind a yucca were it was laying and joe lined up for the shot! Taking his time and and waiting for the perfect time the buck started to turn broad side Joe took the shot and the deer fell. After about 15 miles of hiking and some cold mornings Joe finally had his buck and the hunt was over. Joe Field dressed the buck and we hiked back to camp. We got to camp knowing we were eating good tonight. We fried up the deer heart for a little snack then made some awesome elk fajitas and enjoyed the night and the end of a successful hunt!

Driving back home thinking of all the challenges that the hunt had and how hard it was to spot and get to these magnificent animals I understood why they are called the grey ghost and I was addicted to hunting them and can not wait to get drawn and go back down and continue the pursuit for them.

Riton Optics X5 Primal 10×42 Review

The 10X42 Are the only binoculars that Riton currently sells. At a retail price of 599.99, which is right in the middle of what you can get similar HD binoculars (they range any where from 499.99-799.99).

Whats In The Box

When you open the box you can expect to find

  1. Riton 10×42 Binoculars (DUHH)
  2. One Cleaning Cloth
  3. One Binocular Strap
  4. Front and rear lens Caps

About Riton Optics

Riton Optics is made right here in the United States in Tucson Arizona. Keeping to the the core of American values Riton that is what the company is based on. If you product ever breaks send it back to Riton with a life time warranty they will replace your product with no questions asked.

Pro’s

  • Riton HD Glass
  • Riton Lifetime Warranty
  • Clarity being able to spot your game with ease
  • Better than most HD 10×42 Bino’s
  • Will not fog up in the rain or snow

CONS

  • PRICE
  • Weight
  • Only Size Of Binoculars Riton currently Produces

Conclusion

Over all the Binoculars are great quality but they come at a price that can be beat by some competitors at at 599.99 but they are right in the middle when it comes to the overall price of HD binoculars. They are a little heavy if you are counting how much weight you are packing in while hunting, but if you use a binocular harness such as Marsupial Gear the weight should not affect you neck but I would not just use the neck strap. The American made aspect is a huge plus for me and the Riton lifetime warranty is hard to beat.

After using other 10×42 Binoculars the Riton’s have the clearest quality and make spotting your game animal with ease and will be the only 10X42 Bino’s I will use in the field. Hopefully some day Riton will come out with a larger power Binocular or a spotting scope!

If you would like to purchase a pair of these Binoculars follow the link below!

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How To Stay Busy During COVID-19

With business closing through out the country, employers asking employees to work from home and social distancing being encouraged. You can be stuck at home not knowing what to do. Being around the house all day can get boring, eventually and you will run out of shows to rewatch and things to do. Try some of these tips out that can keep you active and also get you ready for fishing or hunting season.

1.Practice your cast

Get your fishing pole out and set up targets at different distances and angles. If you have buckets use those. Try to hit the target with your cast. Make it a game, make each target worth points and see how many points you can get in 10 casts.

2 Practice your game calling

Pull out your calls and start practicing and tuning up your calls. It might drive your family and neighbors a little crazy but have some fun with it!

3 Start training your eyes to judging distance

Guess how far an object is from you. Use a range finder to confirm the distance.

5 Clean and organize

Go through your hunting bag’s and tackle box’s clean them out and organize them. Make of list of everything you have and what you need to get. Clean and oil your guns.

6.Go for a hike or walk

After being cooped up all day in the house some fresh air will do you good!

7. Go fishing

You can still go fishing right now unless you are in total lock down.

8 Scout

It is never to early but go out and learn a new area. There might be some places you have always wanted to scout but never had the time too now is your chance. You never know you might find a new honey hole!

9 Do some E-scouting

Get on OnX if you have it or Google earth and go through the areas you hunt and try to find a new water hole or a new ridge you can explore.

10 Learn A New Skill

Now that you have time on your hands it is the perfect time to watch some videos or research a new hunting or fishing skill you have been wanting to learn.

What Could 230 K get you

On Saturday the Arizona governors tag for Mule Deer sold for 230 Thousand Dollars at the Arizona Deer Association anual banquet ( yes you read that right). Now it is for a great cause the money goes back into preserving deer and wildlife for future generations.

But It got me thinking what could 230k get you?

You could buy

130,500 rounds of 30-06 ammo

62,500 4 for 4 at wendys

About 19 Polaris Rangers

62,656 Big Macs

3 Ranger Z 521c bass boats

1 Ferrari 488

45,000 SouthWestern Outdoorsman Stickers

Welcome To the SouthWestern Outdoorsman

From Hunting and fishing to everything in between, Exploring the south west and what it has to offer to the sportsman.

To sum up, one does not hunt in order to kill; on the contrary, one kills in order to have hunted. If one were to present the sportsman with the death of the animal as a gift he would refuse it. What he is after is having to win it, to conquer the surly brute through his own effort and skill with all the extras that this carries with it: the immersion in the countryside, the healthfulness of the exercise, the distraction from his job.

– Jose Ortega y Gasset