Hunting Coues Bucks in Sonora, Mexico

If you have never read Jack O’Conner, the father of the .270 Winchester, famed hunter, and one of the best outdoor writers of the 20th Century.  Then I highly suggest you buy a few of his books and read them.  I think every hunter should experience his wonderful, descriptive stories that enrich you with outdoorsman knowledge.  It was because of Jack’s writing that I chose to chase the white ghost of Sonora.

“If I had to pick the American big game animal that has given me more real pleasure than any other, I think I’d choose the Arizona whitetail,” he wrote. “I like the big mule deer, the majestic elk, the great, brown mountain sheep, the gaudy antelope; but for real, deep-seated thrills, little Odocoileus coues is my favorite. The flash of his big, white fan, the sight of his small, compact antlers, his sleek, gray body scurrying through the brush — well, they give me, more than any other animal, those moments of high ecstasy which make a man a sportsman.”

Jack O’Conner 1972

I was like a lot of hunters that gets hung up with large massive horns. The Coues buck is 100 lbs smaller than the Northern White tail, and the Muley.  However, it is because of his smaller size and statue that makes this critter very, very wiley.   I have often thought of Jack’s writings when hunting Coues bucks in Sonora.  I cannot tell you how many times I have been glassing an area on top of a ridge, turn to glass something 30 degrees to the right that caught my attention, then turn to find a nice buck that miraculously appears exactly right where I was just glassing for the past 20 minutes.  You can spend five hours on water in a blind and count over a hundred deer and twenty nice bucks….waiting for the muy grande burro that is probably standing two feet behind you.  This is why I love Coues deer hunting.  I also love it because its sunny in January, and where I am from it is snowing and raining that time of year.

So a group of us went down to Sonora to hunt with a friend of mine, Erwin Ronquillo.  He has an outfitting place down there called Erwin Outdoors.  He has excellent coues buck hunts with private ranches and good water.  He does it right, and let me tell you I have been to Mexico many times hunting and been on some real bad ones.  Erwin has a nice ranch house, excellent chef, great guides and equipment and most importantly a very good area to hunt Coues bucks.  He also speaks English and sends me Donald Trump jokes about building the wall which we both find hilarious.  The boys that I was taking had never been to Mexico hunting so I was excited to take them down for the experience.  We landed in Hermisillo, Mexico and headed to Costco for water, big ass steaks, and some beer (not exactly in that order).  We are 3 hours from a store and of course they didn’t want to run out of beer.  Erwin provides excellent meals, but one thing I love to do is buy a huge rib eye roast for steaks for not only us, but all the guides and ranchers working.  It is important to me that we all have one big dinner together and it is rare that they get to enjoy a steak of great quality because it is very expensive in Mexico.


Erwin picks us up a the airport with my old buddy Luis and off we go to the ranch.  Erwin just got done remodeling the little ranch house with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, and a new bar for the boys beer.

Mark loves sitting there looking at the bar.


It is very comfortable, most nights we find ourselves out by the fire that Luis builds with Mexican mesquite wood that burns forever.  While we are hunting he is looking for good pieces to put on the fire.  I must have ran into him 100 times while he was looking for wood and me looking the other direction for a big buck.

All four of us have our own personal guide, and in the morning we break up to go our blinds to hunt water.  Luis and I like to walk and glass, working up over hills a few miles to the blind.  I like where Erwin has property because you do not have a ton of cactus and NO SNAKES, at least at the time we hunt.


When it is hot, the deer will go to water.  It is a little different in Mexico, they go to water from 9 am to 1pm.  I would count over 100 deer a day on some days coming to water.  We are looking for 100 plus inch bucks on this hunt, that would be the minimum B&C score we are looking for.


This Coues buck was taken on the ranch and scores well over 110, the eye guards is what you look for and a good main frame with the main beam that comes curled back in.  I always look for the main beam going out and curling back in towards each other, then the eye guards.  I start counting points last.


I always come across Javelinas out on his ranch.  There is a lot of them.  I never engage them because I do not taxidermy little pigs, and I never want to scare off bucks with firing my weapon.  They are fun to look at though.


This is Matt’s buck, a nice buck to say the least.  I have to teach him that he needs to hold the buck next time and allow the guide to take the photo.  We will chalk this one up to “lost in translation”.


This is another beautiful coues buck that scores well over 110.   Luis capes the animals here, salts the hide, and prepares the horns for transports.  Here is what you need to know about buck hunting in Mexico.  When you take the cape back into the United States the cape will be inspected.  So you DO NOT WANT TO HAVE IT FROZEN SOLID, AND NO TICKS.  They see one tick, they take the cape.  The guides always brushes the cape and closely inspect it before packaging it up for home.


Erwin has nice blinds with comfortable chairs in the blinds.  As you can see, the bucks can come from any direction and they usually do.  Greg found that there was a lemon tree that must have been over a hundred years old.  It had to produce the world record size lemons.


lemon beer

It took them about 4 seconds to come up with something creative to do with them.  So they started drinking beer out of them.  Matt and Greg harvested their bucks first, so they got to drink beer and go bass fishing at this world class bass lake that Erwin guides fishermen.   They have all the equipment and a real bass boat.  I guess they catch some serious whoppers out there!

Rudy, the chef always prepares great meals.  He is a chef in San Carlos, so he comes up for the week to prepare us meals.  I always enjoy seeing him at camp.


The Ranchers wife, however, sets up shop outside the house to make tortillas.  They are excellent!  I never thought I would say that about a tortilla but they are damn good.

We enjoyed the evenings outside telling the day hunting stories and the funny events that occurred during the day.  I think that is what I truly love about hunting, is the comradery and belly laughs later.


We finished our hunt, and had a few days to kill so we decided to pack up and head for San Carlos.  We said good bye to our Mexican friends and headed to the beach.   We had to find a beach and a bar to watch the Super bowl.


It didn’t take us long at all to find the beach and food in San Carlos.  They had a nice hotel right there on the beach and we made it Base Camp Alpha 2.

sonora sun

This is a nice place for us old hunters to put our feet up and enjoy the sunset.  We later would watch Tom Brady fight his way back from a huge deficit to defeat the Atlanta Falcons.  We will never watch such a Gladiator like Tom pull off a miracle like that again.

Mark might have well been playing Tom Brady Cribbage at the bar.

We found a wonderful restaurant on the beach that served the best skirt steak I have ever had in my life.  It was far better than the rib eye and I never thought I would ever say that in my life.  I felt a little dirty when I said it.


The boys and I finished off a great trip.  We finished the week pulling off the trifecta.  Great Hunt, shared an awesome memory, and enjoyed our friendship along the way.  Then I made them take this corny picture in front of all the tourist.


We had the plastic on the horns to make them look HUGE in front of all the tourist.  I’m joking, that is for packaging to send them home.

I’m glad these guys had the opportunity to share the experience with me.  I think they went home smiling with a  long lasting memory and the fact that they now can say they hunted the Sonoran Ghost.

If you ever get the chance to go, book with Erwin at   He will take care of you.

The Hunting Chef


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