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Joined: 01/27/2002
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Planning a Late Season Cow Elk Hunt (feature article)

March 2010 Feature Article:

Planning a Late Season Cow Elk Hunt

Long after most hunters have left the woods and are sitting home watching football bowl games or worrying about paying post-Christmas bills, some lucky hunters are still chasing elk. Several Western states offer late season hunts for antlerless elk that extend into mid-February.

Most people's mental image of elk hunting includes sweeping vistas, fall colors and high-pitched bugles. But for hunters who want to extend their season, a different type of elk hunting adventure awaits. These hunts usually don't involve mountaintops and dark timber. Instead of the rut, the driving forces on late hunts are typically deep snow and cold weather. Read more...

Please use this area to post comments or questions about this feature article.

kirby902's picture
Joined: 04/20/2010
Posts: 1
Re: Planning a Late Season Cow Elk Hunt (feature article)

I have done a cow elk hunt the past 4 years and found it very successful. I did my hunts at the Vermejo Park Ranch in New Mexico and had a great time and this past year I took my 15 year old grandson with me for his christmas present and he to was successful. A great way to fill your freezer and I plan on going again this year.

penny2's picture
Joined: 05/01/2010
Posts: 7
Re: Planning a Late Season Cow Elk Hunt (feature article)

I am going on a Mulie hunt in Colorado and would like to purchase an cow elk tag. How much meat can i actually get from a cow elk for the freezer and also how much meat can i get from a mulie

exbiologist's picture
Location: Colorado
Joined: 09/19/2008
Posts: 2397
Re: Planning a Late Season Cow Elk Hunt (feature article)

I think it comes out pretty close to 25% of live weight as actual boneless meat. University of Wyoming did a study a few years ago on it I think, lemme see if I can dig up that article.
Here we go:
They were using field dressed weights and came up with 43-50% of field dressed weights. The six bull elk averaged 437 pounds field dressed. The six cow averaged 339 pounds. So figure on 165-170 pounds of edible, boneless meat from a cow elk, 215 pounds from a bull. The deer averaged 114 pounds for bucks and 93 pounds for does field dressed and returned 48% of the field dressed weight. So roughly 55 pounds for a buck and 45 pounds for a doe. Those bucks seem a little bit light in my opinion, but four of the six were 1.5-2.5 years old.

Joined: 06/13/2010
Posts: 36
Re: Planning a Late Season Cow Elk Hunt (feature article)

I really had a good time on a late november cow hunt last season. There was snow on the ground and a little more every couple days, lots of animals around. I missed a couple opportunities through the week but finally connected on the 6th day. I put in for another one in the same general area for this next season, it's even a little later Dec 4-12 so I'm hoping for snow again.

unit9watcher's picture
Joined: 08/02/2010
Posts: 17
cow hunting can so much

cow hunting can so much fun

and it can be very diffcuilt I have some pretty good advice for late season cow hunters


Joined: 07/19/2010
Posts: 16
Colorado Late Season Cow Hunt

Does anyone know about the late season cow hunts in colorado?  On the CO DOW webpage, it says that a late season rifle hunt between november 22 and Jan 31st will be announced as needed each year.  I got skunked in archery season this year and would love another chance at an elk.  Does this happen every year? Is there a drawing for tags, and am I too late already?  Any info would be great if someone has tried this before.


Joined: 06/13/2010
Posts: 36
Late Oregon cow hunt

I had a tag for the 4-12th of December in the Silvies unit.  I didn't know anybody else with the tag so I went solo on this one.  There was 6-8" of snow at camp at about 4800 ft.  I mostly hunted at 5300 - 5400 ft in 12 - 15" of snow.  I was chasing 'em on cross country skiis for most of 5 days. The snow stayed cold so it was pretty quiet. When I cut tracks I'd stay on the skis until I thought I might be getting close, then I'd go on foot.

I finally connected on the 5th day. I was tracking a small group of animals one afternoon about 2:30 when another small group angled across in front of me at a trot, definitely headed somewhere but not dead run spooked. I took a young cow out of the group. Clean kill with a 130 accubond out of my 270.

I quartered the carcass and got the other goodies, then pulled it out in two trips on the skis and toboggan you can see in the pics.

It felt like I imagine a Scandinavian moose or reindeer hunt to have been in the days before snow machines.

hawkeye270's picture
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Location: Fort Collins, CO
Joined: 06/15/2008
Posts: 1862
Lucky Guy: I am pretty sure

Lucky Guy: I am pretty sure that I have not run accross you yet on the site so I just wanted to take a second to welcome you. There are lots of great guys on here from around North America that love sharing stories. Speaking of sharing stories... thanks for writing this one. It sounds like you had quite the adventure. I have hunted off of snow shoes and done quite a bit of winter back packing on them but I have never used cross country skiis to hunt. Sounds like you were able to cover quite a bit of ground. Good for you and congratulations on taking your cow. I am looking to reload 130 grain accubonds in my 270 winchester next year so it is good to hear that they worked out for you. Did you get any pictures of you packing the elk out while on your skiis. I know I would have because atleast for me... that would be a pretty rare occurance. Take care and good luck on any other hunts you have planned.

Joined: 06/13/2010
Posts: 36
Thanks. I'm not very good at

Thanks. I'm not very good at taking enough pictures so what's there is about what there is.  There were two other elk taken within 100 yds of two of those pictures though - one just behind where I stood to take the sunrise picture, and another one about 30 yds behind the trooper in the picture with the skiis.  I thought I took a couple of the quarters hanging and the camp but can't find them.

I was covering 5-10 miles a day, depending on the cover more than the terrain.  The animals were up on top of a several mile long plateau so once I got up on top I didn't have to go down into the ravines after them.  In some of the areas the mahogany was pretty thick and they used it pretty regularly to travel.  They're faster in there than I was!

I was real happy with the accubond, complete penetration and DRT.  The hole in the offside hide was maybe quarter size. Had to still be going 3000 or more when it hit and it held up real well.

Here's a pic of my first one a few years ago.


AlpineClimber's picture
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Location: North America
Joined: 02/08/2011
Posts: 184
Arizona 3B Late Season Cow Hunt.

This hunt goes the little more than the last two weeks of December and is a Muzzleloader Hunt.  My family applies for their hunts seperately and we always make this hunt an second or third choice on our applications and have pulled at least two tags every year.  3B is very congested with jigsaw puzzle type private property, but the wilderness areas (not motorvehicles or ATV's) is fantastic for grabbing a late season Cow.  There is a lot of great grazing in this area and you will typically find Cows within a 1/4 mile of any waterhole.  We have filled every tag we've every gotten.

The biggest issue that comes into play on the wilderness area is packing out a 500 to 700 pound Cow on foot or taking down a nice tender yearling.  I personally prefer the yearling.

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