Skip to main content

How Many Cow Elk Do You Need?


Walk-in areas on private ranches that are managed by the Game and Fish Department ( are other places where I find good cow-elk hunting. The landowners in these regions get too much elk pressure on their lands and may ask the Game and Fish Department for help in removing some of those excess elk. Once the Game and Fish Department examines these properties and deems a certain number of elk need to be removed to keep from damaging the land and whatever vegetation is on the land, the department will open those properties up to public hunting, especially in the late season. In some of these areas, you have to apply for the days you want to hunt. Often, you’ll get those permits early in the year, but I've found these permits are fairly easy to get. Some of the permits I've been applying for and getting allow me to hunt the entire cow-elk late season on a property. 

VanVlack_day2Another thing I like about hunting the late cow-elk season is you can go to the spots you plan to hunt and glass and soon know either the elk are there or not. If the elk aren’t visible, I can move to another place that I've scouted and often find the elk. Glassing for cows is much easier than glassing for bulls. When you're glassing for bulls, you're hoping to find one big lone bull, or a herd bull with a small group of cows. However, during the late season, finding a herd of 30–100 cows is much easier than attempting to locate one or two bulls. I'm very selective in the cows I harvest. I don’t want to take the lead cow of the herd, and I don’t want to take the really young yearling cows. I want to take a middle-aged cow elk, and one that doesn’t have a yearling close to her. 

I also like hunting cow elk in the late season, because the tags are much easier to obtain than the bull tags. My wife, Emma, has two tags for this season, and I have two tags. In past years, I have heard of hunters who have gotten as many as six tags. I don’t know anybody who fills all six tags. However, the advantage of having that many tags gives a hunter multiple units that he can hunt, increasing his odds for getting one or two cows per season. One cow will feed almost an entire family - depending on the size of the family. Two cows will just about fill up your freezer. So, anyone who has more than two tags usually isn’t trying to take six cows. He just wants to make sure that he can hunt six different places and find one or two cows that he/she wants to take. 

Day 1: Why and How to Hunt the Late Cow Elk Season

Tomorrow: Don’t Eat Bull Elk Tags When You Can Take a Cow

Latest Content