Cow Elk? Yeah!

Send by email Printer-friendly version Share this

I used to be a hunter that didn't see the point in hunting the antlerless.  I thought it took a big portion of the sport away from hunting because there wasn't anything to hunt for, I mean, who cares how big a cow is, where's the horns? But every year it seems that much more difficult to draw any sort of a tag, and the Utah general season Elk hunts are extremely difficult.  So, I picked up a general tag and took to the hills for an antlerless.  Boy was it worth it!  It's not quite the same as walking up on a nice buck or bull (I've not been lucky enough to know what it feels like to walk up on a big bull of my own yet), but, it was a lot of fun. 

We hunted near the Missouri Flat CWMU in Utah.  Earlier that day we saw a large herd of them, but couldn't get anywhere close to them.  During the rest of the day we just hopped around the mountain walking this ridge and that one to see what was out there.  We set up on a saddle and had our lunch and just watched this hillside for some time and as we were leaving out the backside a small bunch of 6 or 7 elk appeared on the skyline.  They were working to the North, so we hopped on our four-wheeler and hurried up in front of them, hurried to the top of the ridge, and nothing. 

Over the top of the ridge it dropped down about 30 feet and then shelved out.  As I was walking the ridge line, looking down at the shelf below, I spotted two of the cows feeding my direction.  I hunkered down and started ranging some spots where I thought they'd pass by me.  As all this was going on, I thought that my hunting partner didn't see me hunkered down and had just gone on ahead of me, but what I didn't know is that he did see me hunker down and did so himself just ahead of me on the hill.  So with both of us hunkered down, waiting for the cows to feed to me, the wind mostly at our face, the wind must have swirled a whiff of my scent their way because they suddenly darted out of there.  My buddy hit his hoochie mama and managed to stop one (which I thought was the Elk at the time, because I didn't know he was just ahead of me). 

I crept toward where they had darted and saw the cow, and my friend, and the cow was trying to see where the cow call was coming from because she couldn't see the other hunter.  I tried to range her where she stood, but my range finder wouldn't range for some reason.  I guessed her at 80 yards and took a shot, over her back.  I nocked another arrow and figured 60 yards based on my first shot (I hadn't compensated for the angle very well), right on the money.  She went to a tree not far ahead and was waiting there to bleed out, but after a long wait she was still standing.  So I took my time creeping within 50 yards and put one more arrow in her to seal the deal. 

So, to all you hunters out there, if you're having a hard time getting tags, go the antlerless route.  You will not be disappointed.


Redroadking's picture

In my younger days I felt the

In my younger days I felt the same way about taking a cow elk, but now that I'm older I have learned any elk is a trophy to be proud of. I have put several cow elk on the ground and it has required a lot of effort and patience on my part. These animals are spirited and demand our respect, because they will humble you in a heartbeat!! Good story and start looking for your next one!


Retired2hunt's picture

Boots - I couldn't agree with

Boots - I couldn't agree with you more! I've said it before a deer is a deer and an elk is an elk - regardless of antlers. 3 of my 4 tags this year are antlerless - deer, elk, and antelope. I do have a bull elk tag but that is just greed... or insurance!

Oh - and by the way great story and great picture! I hope to have a cow elk story to share with you in a month or two!


Ca_Vermonster's picture

Very nice story!  Love the

Very nice story!  Love the photo too.  Something about black and white in outdoor photography.

Congrats on what I am sure was a fine tasting elk.  You are right, there are things alot more important that antlers, although it seems like a large part of our society is headed that way.  With quality deer management, trophy fees, etc., it seems we have lost the enjoyment of the actualy hunt, and the fact that you can't eat the horns.

A hunt for a cow, small bull/deer, whatever, is every bit as enjoyable as a big trophy animal!

GooseHunter Jr's picture

That is a great story and I

That is a great story and I agree that it is a great topic for discussion.  I have never been one for hunting for the head rack.  In fact I have never shot a bull elk....I want to just have never really put in for a bull tag or I have a either sex tag and I like a frezzer full of merat over tag soup so i am always a game in hand kind of hunter.  this year is different I have a bull tag and thats it so I had better look for some horns!

SGM's picture

Hunting Antlerless

Good story and even better topic. Hunting antlerless is just as rewarding as hunting for antlers IMO. Yes there may be more cows or does but that usually means there are more eyes and ears looking and hearing you too. As I have said before, I do not get caught up in the numbers game of how many B&C or P&Y points the critter scored. To me, they are all a challenge and a trophy. I have heard it time and time again when you ask someone how they did and they say “all I got was a doe”. Well that is not something you should ever hang your head about. If you truly feel that way don't pull the trigger or release the string. Personally I am very thankful for each critter I harvest for the challenge, experience and all the great meals that come from that critter.  Antlers do look great but they are tough to swallow.

ManOfTheFall's picture

Great story, I really enjoyed

Great story, I really enjoyed it. Great job on the cow elk, congratulations. Here in Ohio in the area I hunt I can take up to 5 doe and 1 buck or 6 doe if I so choose. I love to shoot doe's. It is very fun. My heart may not get quite the thrill it does when I see that big buck coming, but if it's a nice sized doe I still get a pretty good adrenaline rush. To me any animal I take with a bow is a trophy. Thanks for sharing your story.

jaybe's picture

DITTO to everything that's

DITTO to everything that's been said. By now every hunter should know the importance of keeping the herds in balance by taking females out as well as males.

Great eating there. Congrats on a great shot - 80 yards - I'm impressed!