Don't Overlook Leftover Cow Elk Tags

Every year there are thousands of leftover tags across multiple states for cow elk hunts. Leftover tags occur when a specific tag quota is set and the demand from hunters just isn’t there in the initial draw...or two draws in some states. Many of the tags tend to be for perceived marginal units however harvest rates can be quite good. Oftentimes the female only tags have exceptional success rates, we are talking 30%-60% success rates! The marginal units might have less public land, be hard rough country or just an area that is generally overlooked. Sometimes the season is later or earlier than most folks want to hunt.

At HuntScore, we love these tags! They are effectively over-the-counter hunts with caps. Because there is still a limited quota, pressure will be capped. Also, these tags may have reduced prices. In Wyoming, Colorado and Utah a hunter can save hundreds of dollars on the cost of a tag. Below is a video of a cow elk hunt we did on a leftover cow elk tag in Wyoming. The success rate for this hunt was 43% in 2020 and there were 100’s of leftover cow tags after the draw. Because Wyoming sells the female only tags at a reduced price, this tag cost less than $250 for a nonresident. It was less than our antelope tag in an overlapping unit and yielded three times the meat!

Another reason to pickup a cow elk tag is the ability to hunt a unit you may later want to draw a bull elk tag in. For many units, leftover cow elk tags are a perennial occurrence providing years of opportunity to learn a unit and build points. During our hunt we saw a 4x4 bull and a nice 6x6 bull that another hunter harvested. An any elk license in the same unit had 90% draw odds for residents but required 4 preference points for nonresidents and only had 10% draw odds in the random choice round. A guy or gal is much better off getting out in the field every year chasing cow elk than sitting on the couch waiting for 4 years to finally get a chance at a bull.

So if you find yourself empty handed after the elk draw season be on the lookout for leftover cow elk tags. They can provide a great opportunity to learn a unit, fill your freezer and make some great memories. Consider setting up HuntScore Alerts so you never miss out on an opportunity!

Posted: December 2, 2022

Written By: Matt Habiger

About: Matt grew up running around the oaks, pines and birches in central Minnesota. He spent his youth hunting, fishing and riding bmx. For better or worse he's a restless hunter, prone to wandering the reaches of public land. Many youthful days were spent dreaming about chasing elk, deer and bear across mountain sides with a butterscotch maple Interarms 300 Weatherby from his father. 25 years later he still has the same dreams they just happen to come true every Fall and Spring.

TrailHead Chatter

Sign Up or Sign In to Read !

With A Free Account Get:

  • Ability to read comments
  • Ability to post comments
  • Ability to upvote and downvote comments