Colorado Cow Moose

Matt Foley

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In a van down by the river.
I have enough points to draw a cow moose tag here in Colorado and I am seriously considering it. I just have a few questions. I have a buddy with a cabin (unit 421) and have been hunting with him from the cabin, on 3 different occasions. Each time, someone in the party has seen a cow, all but one time the cow had a calf in tow. They tell me that this is normal in the area and we see a lot of sign, each time we are up there. I have been looking at the point creep and would love to hunt a bull but that seems more daunting every year. If I go the cow tag route, I could possibly get another tag or two before my knees go out (currently 46).

I have looked at the harvest statistics and in most areas the success rates for cow tags are a bit lower than bull tags. I think that I know the answer to this but would like to clarify. Does killing a cow with a calf, put a death sentence on the calf? I have no interest in killing two moose. Is this the reason that the success rates on cow tags are so much lower? How difficult is it to find a cow without a calf? Is there any other reason that the success rates are lower?

I currently carry a 270 Win for elk and deer. What are your thoughts? is this enough gun and if so, what bullet would you recommend? I have been looking at the Barnes TSX and the Hammer bullets. I have been toying with picking up a 7 Rem Mag for years and this may be a good excuse but I've have made some other recent gun purchases that may cause some resistance from the better half.

The proclamation states that cow tags are not season choice but lists only one hunt code for all four rifle seasons. Does a rifle tag allow you to hunt all four seasons? Is there a particular season that is better then the others? Will probably focus on 2nd, since that is when my buddy and his hunting party will be at the cabin.

I would also love to here about any experiences, good or bad?
Thanks, Alex
 
if it was a death sentence for the calf/calves at that time of year they would prohibit the killing of cows with calves.

i could only speculate the the lower success associated with cow hunting would probably be due to lower effort put in than folks with long awaited bull tags put in on their tags.

i think going for cows is a good option as a colorado resident. but i'm still too young and starry eyed to consider it.
 
I did it and will do it again. A reasonable effort should equate to an opportunity. You do have to pick your season, archery, muzzy, or rifle. The tag is good for the season you draw. There are units with near 100% success.

A 270 with a good bullet is more than sufficient.

Cow Calf I would t worry about as much. Given the opportunity to shoot one without I would. But, the willows can be so thick you may never see the calf if there was one. The Biologists are factoring in calf recruitment when they issue tag allocation.
 
I live in an area in CO with lots of moose. All of my moose encounters both this winter (there have been many) and during hunting season have been close encounters. They seem incredibly docile and unpressured, even on public land. I've heard the meat is good but it terms of 'the chase' it doesn't strike me as incredibly sporting given how for lack of a better word - dumb/chill they are. I guess you could argue the same for deer I've encountered while elk hunting? So I guess at the end of the day, meat is meat and a moose would really do a good job filling the freezer. :)

With regards to the mom/cow thing, agree with the above posts.
 
Personally I wouldn’t shoot a cow with a calf. Valves seem to stay with their moms all winter so I don’t think leaving them alone would help things. You know that calf would be pretty tasty 😜
 
Just my .02 but I couldn’t shoot a cow with a calf. Seen too many mom-less calf elk that just seem lost and run you over when they hear a cow call. I’m sure some survive but when you have one at 20 yards that’s hardly scared of you it tugs at the heartstrings a little bit.

The draw odds might be tougher but I would apply for a unit that would allow you to look at lots of moose so you can find one without a calf in tow.
 
I agree with others that shooting a cow with a calf isn’t a big deal. If I had the choice, I’d rather shoot a dry cow, but I wouldn’t blink twice shooting a cow with calf.

.270 should be enough.

My dad had a cow tag many years ago that went unfilled. Looking back I think we made a few mistakes that if corrected would’ve helped us shoot a cow. Hunted for 10 days, saw bulls every day but no cows.
My mom had a bull tag the year before last and we saw lots of cows 🤷‍♂️

The rifle season for moose is different than the deer/elk rifle seasons. Look in the regs for your season dates. You won’t be able to hunt moose during 2nd rifle elk if I remember correctly.
 
Does a rifle tag allow you to hunt all four seasons? Is there a particular season that is better than the others? Will probably focus on 2nd, since that is when my buddy and his hunting party will be at the cabin.
Yes, if you draw hunt code MF041L1R you can hunt all four rifle seasons.
 
have killed three dry cow moose in Colo. First in a great moose area and last two in a tougher area with fewer moose because I wanted to draw. Awesome meat and always fun being around moose.

First, archery, took 3-4 days to kill one in an area full of moose, 2nd, archery, took 7 days, 3rd, muzzleloader, took one day scouting and killed one I had found evening before opening morning.

The cow that took a solid week of hard hunting about 7 years ago, and in the same unit in 2022 killed one opening day. The fact I hunted the first with a bow and the second with muzzleloader was not the reason it took a week for the earlier one--I just could not find a cow and saw lone bulls the first 5 days. Found a cow day 6 that was harassed by a big bull and he chased her far far away out of my life and at last light found a cow with a small bull at last light and made short work of it first thing next morning. I think but do not know, cows are trickier to stalk than bulls.

I have purposely avoided killing cows with calves but do not see the real harm in it. Other than the wife's disdain for it given I have taken her out to see baby moose many times. A small easy give to her amongst all the hunting I do.

I was gonna say you misread the proclamation but you did not. 41/42/421 has lots of moose but it is a tough hunt they added multiple rifle dates because they need the kill success and for that unit group success was not great befpre they expanded to multi season. Not other cow moose units do not have the multiseason, again is because of the trouble killing bulls (or maybe both bulls and cows, do not recall) They also keep you out of the rifle bull moose hunt dates for sam reason to give bull hunters better chance without a pile of cow hunters around. at least that is my recollection of things.

if you go with 41,42,421 and really want a moose I would plan ahead to expect hunting more than one of those seasons if go rifle route. Get a buddy to commit to helping if you draw.


How many points, pref and bonus do you have as a resident?
Is there a reason other than convenience of location amd a cabin access you are choosing 421. I would ponder the success rates and average days per hunt as part of my decision on where to burn precious moose points. Success on cows in 41, 42, and 421, you have to look at all three to know for the full area is not very good...Compare to other units and ponder your relative odds based on points in have or not in hand.


last year 19 cow moose tags for Res+_nonres
1 of 5 hunters killed in 421
0 of 12 killed in 41
1 of 3 killed in 42
So only 2 of 17 (two no shows) killed anything?

In 2020 the success was also quite low.

Maybe I am misreading the stats, what do you see that is attractive because a cabin is no reason to sign up for 2/17 chance of success if you have points for good odds for better options?

Good luck in the draw, look forward to hearing you drew! Cow moose is a fun hunt, and I will try for a tag as fast as I reload my points. Blessed to have drawn bull first when max points was 3+2.
 
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How many points, pref and bonus do you have as a resident?
Is there a reason other than convenience of location amd a cabin access you are choosing 421. I would ponder the success rates and average days per hunt as part of my decision on where to burn precious moose points. Success on cows in 41, 42, and 421, you have to look at all three to know for the full area is not very good...Compare to other units and ponder your relative odds based on points in have or not in hand.
I currently have 3 + 4 points.

Yes, it is partly for convenience and partly because of the moose and sign we have seen. The cabin is only an hour from my front door and gives us access to a road that takes you to the lower part of the Grand Mesa. The only other access is from the top. There are two canyons, one with a river and another with a creek and several beaver ponds. We usually encounter the moose down low, in the oak brush around the beaver ponds or river. We don't always see them but it is common to see moose tracks over the top of our boot tracks from the previous day. It is really thick and definitely not sure thing, but I think that it increases my odds. There are usually 4 to 6 hunters in the cabin during 2nd season and the others would be on the look out for me and would be willing to help pack out if needed.

However, I am open to other suggestions for more successful units. My son and huntin buddy is leaving this summer to preach the good word in Austrialia and we have several vactions other activities planned with him. So scouting time will be limited.
 
variable:

Standard moose dates are:

View attachment 270127

The subject unit of this thread does not conform to that and has these rifle dates, all of which can be hunted if drawn.:

View attachment 270128
I think for cows I would rather go later like November. Bit tougher to find but snow will help and November moose don’t move much. Lots of times when you find one you will find several in November
 

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