Coues deer


Apr 29, 2023
I am going on my first Coues deer hunt this year. My big game hunting rifle has always been a 30-06. I wonder if I should get a flatter shooting rifle like 6.5 creedmoor or a 25-06.
I have a Model 70 featherweight with a 3.5-10X Leupold. I have been shooting 150 gr Sierras with it, with excellent results.
I was told to be ready for shots from 300 - 500 yds. I am super confident out to 400 yds. I can practice to 600 yds with my 06 and 150 gr bullets. Is there really a need for something that shoots flatter? My concern is that it's a long drive to Coues country and I only have a 6 day hunt. The next hunt could take a while and luck to get drawn.
A 6.5 Creedmoor won't shoot as flat as your 30-06 load so it won't really gain anything for you. A 6.5 PRC would be an option if looking for a new gun. Your 30-06 that you are already confident with will be the best option to be honest. Good luck on your hunt!
As the others have already mentioned, your 30-06 is certainly up to the task. I would shoot as much 600 yard as you can, reading and learning the wind. That practice will pay off for you.
You mentioned your scope is a Leupold VX-3 3.5-10. Does it have a CDS dial or B&C reticle?
If it doesn't, you might want to consider getting a scope that will allow you to reach out to longer distance.

I kept my first 40 years of hunting really simple. My 30-06 shooting 180 gr partitions for everything from antelope to elk, with a Leupold 1.5-5X scope. It's been kept on 5X since the first shot.
I drew a bighorn sheep tag in 2020. My wife suggested I get a lighter rifle and more powerful scope, so I got the featherweight '06 and the 3-10X scope.
I really do not want another rifle.
I'll look into the Leupold with Boone & Crockett reticle, thanks for that suggestion.
Yes, if comfortable with your 30-06 and 150 gr bullets stick with it.
And practice with it out to 600. From field positions, such as off your bipod, shooting tripod or sticks, your back pack on the ground or a large rock, etc. Get out and practice cross canyon shots, uphill and down. Any scenario that can mimic the actual field shooting positions you may face where you are going so as to build your skill and confidence. Also try to pick windy days that will have an impact on your bullet drift so that you become familiar and comfortable with this too.

Highly recommend the B&C reticle in Leupold scopes. Have been using them for years and they are great. Just make sure that you have the power ring at the proper magnification to correspond with your ammo's velocity for the drops. And then verify them at the range and in the field, with your ammo. While they may not be offering as many scopes with this reticle anymore, you should be able to find a used scope in good condition. The 3.5-10x40 (or 50) is great, but do not overlook a 4.5-14x40 (or 50) if you are looking to be able to see better at longer distances. The 40mm objective is just a little more trim and lighter in overall weight. The 50mm objective will provide a little larger exit pupil diameter for a little more light transmission to your eye under low light.

Coues deer are small. If you can, make life sized targets to practice on in the field under the various conditions, angles and distances. May take a little more effort, but will pay huge dividends when the moment of opportunity presents itself on your dream hunt. When you do get a Coues deer in your scope, you'll be familiar with the sight picture in relation to your reticle, and hold on that animal, because you practiced on like sized targets at home. Again, breeds familiarity and confidence!

I know I need to do more of this myself for smaller species at longer distances. While I may never take a shot at 600 on a smaller species, I would definitely benefit from the practice when a shot opportunity presents itself at say 400, which is a long ways on a small critter in unfamiliar terrain.

Best of luck on your hunt!
The 6.5 Creed is the flattest hardest hitting cartridge out there per the internet. Your good ol’ 30-06 is more than enough for the ranges you’re looking at.
If anything stepping up to a scope with more top end would be a better option.
Everyone raves about how solid the Nightforce scopes are so maybe looking at their SHV line in whatever configuration you like would be a good option. Trijicon is supposed to be durable too.
Never been Coues deer hunting but, I want to. Read up on it and listened to a bunch of podcasts about it. There is one thing that I took away from what I’ve heard. They are small and give you a small fleeting target to shoot at. So I would take whatever rifle you have that you shoot the best. Most accurate, fastest handling and flat shooting. Don’t think they’re hard to kill just hard to hit and, your opportunities can be limited.
While I will never tell anyone that they shouldn't get a 25-06 (because everyone should have one), your 30-06 will more than do the task at hand.
THAT! Shoot the '06 from a variety of positions and ranges and you will be way further ahead than any new rifle can get you IMHO. FWIW Ive never shot an Antelope at more than 300 yards. I would think your '06 would be a "hold on the hair" proposition at that range, in all but he most miserable crosswinds. CL
That Leupold 3.5X10 scope will do just fine for you. That is what I use on most of my hunting rifles and they have duplex reticles. The longest range I have taken game is 500 yards except one pronghorn at 600+---but that was luck mostly and it was very windy.
I have 4.5X14X40 duplex reticle Leupold scopes on both of my Weatherby rifles ---BUT after one shot on 14X that I needed a follow up shot for I now never turn them up beyond 10X except for target shooting.
I grew up in coues country.

Your 30-06 is fine. Take a really good set of 15X binoculars on a tripod. Practice looking for things like an ear twitch, an eyeball blink, or part of a hoof not hidden behind a clump of grass.

They aren’t called the grey ghosts for nothing. When you think you’ve completely glassed an area go back and glass it again for three more hours.

Sunup and sundown will be your best times to spot them. Hunt all day. Coues deer are smart and I’ve caught them coming in for water at noon when the hunting pressure is heavy. Pick a spot to glass from and stay there. I’ve stayed glassing the same ridge from sunup to sundown.

I’m pretty sure I know what state you’re hunting in. What unit?

Good choice of unit.
If you want a better than average buck hike in to the Parjarita Wilderness Area a couple miles.