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Late-Season Cow Elk Hunts with Youth and Women

Ralph Ramos | Mossy Oak ProStaff

cow elk in the snow


Another advantage of hunting during the late elk season is that you can get a cow elk tag. Although many people know how delicious elk meat is, most elk hunters are hunting horns. However, as I’ve mentioned, I try to keep my freezer full of elk meat, because it is lean and tastes so good. Elk meat is a Westerner’s organic chicken. When we have a freezer full of elk, we can defray the cost of buying other meat at the grocery store. 

One of the advantages of hunting cows during the late season is they're often much easier to locate than the bulls are, and they’ll usually be in big herds. Early in the morning and late in the evening, they’ll generally be in the lower meadows feeding. Taking a cow elk can not only reduce the cost of buying meat for your family, but it also gives you another reason to be out hunting elk. Taking cows is a conservation practice, just like harvesting does is in many states and helps to ensure the health of the deer herd. That’s the reason many states have and promote cow elk hunts. New Mexico cow hunts usually start around the last week in November and continue until the second or third week of December, but you need to check regulations to make sure when cow season starts in New Mexico and other elk states. 

Cow hunts are one of my favorite hunts. I primarily volunteer to take children on cow elk hunts. I really enjoy taking young people out in the woods and teaching them how to hunt elk, how to get in close to a cow, and how to harvest meat for their families. Usually, before the cow elk hunts, I've scouted the land where we’ll be hunting. I know where the cows will come out of the woods into the meadows, and I know what wind we need to have to hunt each area I’ve scouted. So, I usually try to have a stand set up for the youngster to make a 200-250 yard shot. 

I recommend youngsters shooting a 7mm-08 with a 140-grain Barnes bullet to harvest a cow elk. That 7mm-08 is about as light a caliber as I suggest for youngsters to shoot. Over the years, I've seen the performance of those Barnes bullets at that 150 to 200-yard range. I’ve had a lot of great hunts with youngsters and with women who may be on their first elk hunts making one-shot kills with that caliber and that bullet. 

Another caliber that I often recommend is a 6.5 Creedmoor with a 140-grain Barnes bullet. Both these calibers and bullets reduce recoil, which is very important when you're hunting with youngsters and new hunters. The maximum range for this caliber and bullet is about a 300-yard shot. I know, when most people hear the word long-range shooting, they're thinking about an 800 to 1,000-yard shot. However, for me, a long-range shot for a youngster or maybe a lady on her first elk hunt is a 300-yard shot. Many times, during the cow elk season, we’ll have shots that are less than 75 yards. So, if you're looking for some late-season elk hunting, and you know how delicious elk meat is, don’t overlook the possibility of getting a cow tag to hunt the late season.

Get John and Denise Phillips’ offer of a free cookbook, “Miz Denise’s Outdoor Cooking: More Than 35 Recipes for Elk and Mule Deer.”

Go to Ramos Hunts & Video Productions on Facebook to learn more about these New Mexico hunts.  

Ralph Ramos has been a member of the Mossy Oak ProStaff for about 20 years. After years of pursuing elk, Ramos became a guide and has been leading hunters to elk for at least 20 years. Elk hunting is a physical challenge for most, but Ramos continues to face the challenge year after year.

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