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There are two main modes of operation on our shoots. The first is the prep/transition mode, which means a bunch of massive duffel bags bursting at the seams, big fast Walmart shopping sprees, and lots of grumbling and running around.  The second mode is when all of that goes away and we simply get on a hunt—that’s when things get good and the magic happens.

Our Coues Deer episode in Southwest Arizona was the best of example of this. We had a messy time getting out to the field, but once everything died down and we cemented a plan to get across a canyon and up onto a remote mountain (that was just CRAWLING with Coeus Deer), things started to get good. We learned a new term from our local buddies in Arizona, “Cold Camp”. It’s more of a philosophy than a place, and really it just means packing in everything you need to do an extended overnight hunt on your back. You literally hike in to the spot you want to glass from and sleep right there.  You don’t have a fire, you don’t talk—you are basically in hunt mode around the clock.

Our Coeus Deer hunt was epic. We spotted deer on a distant mountain, packed our stuff—enough for two nights—and struck out across the desert.  Things got interesting fast. The afternoon was warm and lizards, bugs, and snakes were out crawling around—and they were REALLY out.  Steve stepped on a rattler.  Like he literally stepped on top of a rattlesnake, and in the most skilled maneuvering I’ve seen in a long time he stopped dead, told Mo to get a rock, counted down from 3, and then smacked it with the cantaloupe-sized rock.  We ate the snake for dinner.

Our first challenge was conquered, but we had a bigger (literally) one ahead.  To get to our Mountain we had to cross Paddy’s River, which has a gentle name but a pretty harsh reality.  Our crew is no stranger to getting cliffed-out and we took our time trying to get to the bottom of Paddy’s. We found a way down and found ourselves in a green, shady, gorgeous oasis. Getting up the other side of the canyon was a little sketchy but doable. Then all we had left was another 2 hour hike up this damn brown mountain, where we pitched camp in exactly the spot we had been glassing for the last day.  It was pretty poetic actually, just to get there.  We found little flat spots underneath a big cedar and crashed.  We had little water, ended up skipping a bunch of meals, and didn’t apply enough sunscreen.  It was awesome.

You’ll have to watch the show to see what happened on that mountain, but I can promise you it kicked ass.  Our return was exactly the same as the trip out, complete with another rattler-moment.  Actually it wasn’t exactly the same due to the added weight of 50 pounds of venison we were packing.  I was happy and proud.  It’s a big enough feat to successfully hunt the way Steve hunts, and it’s a special challenge to make such a raw tv show out of a backpack.  Our cold camp in Arizona was an example of us working fluidly and at a high level.  It was a blast.