By Andy May
Jesse Coots just might be the best bow hunter you’ve never heard of. He doesn’t go out of his way to talk about his success, he’s just a no BS kind of guy and flat out gets it done no matter where or what he is hunting. When looking at hunters I always admire the guy that gets it done every year in a variety of scenarios – and that’s Jesse. If he’s hunting, something is going to die.
Recently, I was able to chat with Jesse and ask him some questions that I’ve been wanting to ask for a long time. Here are his responses.
Q: Tell me a little bit about the places you hunt regularly.
A: I hunt my home state of New York because it’s where I live. We have great genetics and great habitat – our downfall is over harvest of bucks. However, we still have some quality deer. I also hunt Ohio almost every year. It has amazing genetics and habitat, a short gun season, produces giants and has a fair amount of public land. It’s also within a 6 hour drive of my home. I hunt Kansas a lot too and it has a lot going for it with genetics. I hunt the western part of the state and I really enjoy the spot and stalk on whitetail, so that’s my draw to it, plus I have some good friends out there that I like to visit.
I have hunted numerous other whitetail states but those three are my main hit list, plus I can get a tag for all three every year. Kansas is a draw however it is a high percentage draw.
I also hunt Colorado for mule deer, Montana for elk, both in 100% draw units. Again I have hunted numerous other states for muley and elk but I tend to go back to these two almost every year if I can afford it.
Q: How would you describe your hunting style?
A: I guess my hunting style really varies depending on where I am and what I am hunting. I guess I could be considered a “freestyle” hunter. I don’t have any style that I am sworn to or religious about. I try and be quite diversified and am always trying new tactics. Obviously I have “go-to” ways that seem to produce but I am never set in one style.
Q: It seems like you always get it done. Be it elk, deer, or whatever. What do you think contributes most to you being so successful?
A: Well thanks, there are a lot of little things that add up to success, just like a successful wrestler doesn’t rely on one move. It’s a deep array of tools a wrestler has to have to obtain success as with bow hunting. If I were to pick some of the most important traits for success I would say a few of the top ones are:
1) Being a killer: I know it’s not politically correct to say, but it’s the truth. To be successful on big animals you must be a confident killer. You have to know when to move, when to draw, when to shoot, etc. This comes from doing a lot of killing. Woodchucks, birds, squirrels, rabbits, and hundreds of does have fallen to my arrows giving me food and experience. You have to be a killer to be successful.
2) Love of hunting: I think you have to genuinely love hunting to truly be successful. A lot of guys love the idea of being a hunter but don’t enjoy the long sits, the long hikes, the hours of glassing, the heavy packs, etc etc. I live for that stuff, therefore I rarely suffer on a hunt even though its punishing. I love it.
3) Drive: To be successful at anything a guy has to have drive. He has to want it, mentally, physically, and in all aspects. I do things year round that allow me to be able to hunt hard come September, October, and November, and sometimes December and January. This means working long hours in the off season. It means lining up babysitters for when I am gone so my wife is not stressed. It’s studying maps and terrain. It’s being dedicated to the task and driven to do whatever it takes to succeed.
Q: I remember a few years back you killed your target buck 4 or 5 years in a row on opening day in New York. How were you able to do that?
A: Yeah I almost always tag out within the first week in my home state, There are many reasons for this but the main one would be scouting. I scout pretty hard and I know my home ground well. I used to hunt a few different counties but with my own business and three kids it’s tough now, so I stick to my top three spots. I don’t worry about too much, I just study my areas and try and master them. Once I find a shooter I glass him as much as possible and I also study who else is hunting or scouting the area and how they approach and escape the area. Most hunters are really sloppy and tend to almost eliminate deer travel in the area they hunt, which in turn almost funnels the deer to other areas. I learn those areas and it makes it easier. I also like the early season in my home state because the bucks are bachelored up and hitting the food sources regularly. It’s pretty easy to pattern them if you’re disciplined enough to scout in the mornings and evenings for the first and last 30 minutes of light.
Q: Where do most hunters fall short in hunting mature deer?
A: I would say most guys fall short on mature deer by not scouting, not being disciplined, being lazy, not self-evaluating, and being poor finishers or not being good killers.
1) Scouting: Guys go hunting the first day and that’s where there scouting begins; I am looking to finish my home season on my first sit.
2) Discipline: People don’t seem to have the discipline to pass young bucks. When you tag out on a young buck you have no chance of killing a mature buck and you ruined next year’s harvest. This is why they cry there are no good bucks on their ground. No kidding, you shot your prospect two years ago.
3) Laziness: I see guys hunt with the wind blowing into the bedding grounds. They ride 4 wheelers within 100 yards of their stands and if they do actually walk they will take the easiest most direct walk to their stand even if it screws up their hunt.
4) Self evaluation:I constantly evaluate myself and my past performances, what I did right and what I did wrong. I rarely make the same mistake twice. Guys make the same mistakes constantly, wondering why they don’t connect but never evaluating why they don’t connect. I constantly am told how lucky of a hunter I am. It’s not luck. I work at it along with every other guy that is consistent.
5) Finishing: You can do everything right and be an amazing hunter yet never have success if you’re not a killer. You must be able to be a killer, be composed under pressure, make good decisions, and be a good shot. Then you have to be disciplined enough to wait for your shot, where you hit it and when to go after it. You have to be able to track a hit deer and understand what you’re seeing and evaluate what to do. A lot of guys hit big bucks and are so panicked they don’t know where the hit was or where the animal went. They don’t remember any sounds or how the deer reacted. They don’t know if the leg was forward or back, etc etc..
Q: Are there any pieces of equipment that you rely on for your style of hunting?
A: I have numerous things that are important to me but I guess my must-have would be a fine-tuned and well familiarized bow with a couple dozen fletched and tuned arrows at the beginning of season. Great optics, I love optics! I carry Swarovski 10×42 ELs . I used to go through a junk pair of $100 binos as a kid every year until I looked through Swaros. It took me a couple years of saving but I bought them and have never spent another penny on junk. A good tripod is a must even for 10x binos. It’s amazing how much a tripod helps. I also have a Zeiss scope and Zeiss 15x binos. Optics are the name of the game. Again some people are cheap and lazy and don’t want to put forth the effort to buy them or the discipline to use them. I also have a bow sling I really like that I modified from its original use that is pretty key for me.
Q: How often do you scout as opposed to actual hunting?
A: 75% . In My home state I would say about 75% of my time afield is scouting. I actually don’t hunt much. I am usually studying my options. When out of state it is usually rut hunting. I would say out of state I probably spend about 40% of my time scouting and searching for what I am looking for.
Q: Can you give the readers one tip that you think would take the average hunter to the next level?
A: One tip…Become a great hunter, a great killer. Trophy hunting will naturally fall into your lap. You have to be proficient and confident and to become this way you have to get experience. Be open minded, learn and study everything and everyone. Don’t let pride ruin your education, don’t shoot dinks, shoot does! Ask local farms if they get kill permits and offer to harvest deer for them, learn to shoot low, learn that when you bleat them to a stop you have to shoot lower than when they stop naturally because they are or are not alert. These are the things killers know and understand because they have experience and have evaluated their situation for the good and the bad. Be smart, think, and get experience. Become a killer and trophy hunting will become a walk in the park.