My sons and I were fortunate enough to draw three muzzleloader cow tags this year. This would be our first muzzleloader hunt ever. Typically, we are bow hunters but wanted to increase our odds of drawing tags and muzzleloaders made sense to us. We chose to hunt the last week of the season from 9/22 to 9/30. We were prepared to pack in if necessary or hunt from the truck. We arrived at our predetermined base camp 30 minutes before shooting time. We hunted in familiar territory that we’ve hunted since 2006 so we know where the elk typically are. Let me say upfront that I like cow tags a lot. There's no antler pressure, just a meat hunt! We unhooked the trailer and headed down the road that ended at the wilderness trailhead. We stepped out of the truck and were greeted with multiple elk bugling where we had planned to start the day. As we hastily gathered up our gear and loaded our guns we counted five distinct bugles and figured at least a couple of those bulls had cows. We geared up quick and headed up the trail. Within 15 minutes we were on a bull with 4 cows. We followed the bugling bull up the mountain at a safe distance. By about 11:00 we had lost sight of them but being familiar with the area we had a good idea where they would bed down. We slipped in and I cow called and immediately got a response from the bull we had followed up. I got one quick glimpse of him at 225 yards slightly above our elevation across a steep canyon as he headed behind a tree and bedded down. We knew the cows were close so we settled in and waited. We had agreed on the drive in that whoever spotted the cow would be the first to shoot. My oldest son was the first to see the cows that morning so he set up the tripod with the gun mount and the waiting began. After about 45 minutes one of the cows stepped out from behind a tree feeding broadside at 200 yards. And just like that she stepped behind another tree – gone! After about 15 minutes, the cow had fed back the way she came and was once again feeding in the clearing quartering away. My son settled in to take the shot as my younger son and I spotted for him. The shot goes off and I see her hunch up and step behind the trees. The other cows jump up, the bull crashes out and we see elk running between the trees. Having no idea if one was his cow, nobody shot at the other cows. We waited about 20 minutes and headed over to the other side of the canyon. Did I mention that this was a steep canyon? My son got to the spot first and his cow lay there dead. He had punched a nice hole in through lungs. It was 11:00 AM on day one and we had a cow on the ground. We had her deboned and bagged up by 1:30 and headed off the mountain, downhill all the way to the truck. At 3:30 we were back at the truck. Elk 1 We spent Sunday getting the meat squared away and doing a lot of glassing. We have a freezer and generator to keep the meat in on extended hunts so the meat was hung overnight and then frozen. We glassed from camp and found several elk and we planned our hunts for Monday and Tuesday.