Cow Elk? Yeah!
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.