Cow elk for my 12 year old son


Well-Known Member
Jun 22, 2011
New Mexico
Last weekend was the first of the New Mexico youth encouragement cow elk hunts. These hunts are offered first come first serve to New Mexico kids who Put in for hunts but didn’t draw any tags. I got my son a Unit 16D cow tag. I am very familiar with this area and he has killed 2 cows here before in these type of hunts.

The hunt started Friday morning so we were up early. We had seen a herd of about 70 cows in an open meadow the afternoon before but when it got light enough to see on Friday morning, they were no where to be found. We drove down a little further and stopped to glass some other ridges and I spotted 5 cows on a ridge about 1 mile from us but it would be a bit of work with all the elevation change. I advised my son of this but he was ready to go anyways. Right before we set out, I remembered that there was a road that went up the hill just behind us that might give us a clear shot from the top of it. So we hopped back in the truck and went up the road and stopped just before the road peaked out on top. We got out and walked from tree to tree until we could see the side of the ridge that the cows were on. I spotted 4 cows as they were going out of sight but there was a 5th cow that was straggling a bit behind. The cow was at 527 yards, grazing and in no hurry. My son has been an avid shooter and took his first cow elk at 9 years old from a distance of 490 yards and his second cow at 590 yards so we both knew that this was very doable for him. Especially since there was no wind.

We got everything set up and I ranged the cow and the kestrel spit out 10 MOA of elevation. I thought to myself,”that is a lot for that distance for this rifle and bullet combo.” He was shooting a 7mm Sherman MAX with a 169 Gr hammer hunter going 3120 fps. I dialed it anyway and told him to squeeze it off. He did so and the cow looked up but she didn’t even flinch or move. I said to my son..”you missed.” He said “no way dad, I was right on it the whole time!” I put another round in and told him to take his time and squeeze that trigger. He let the shot go and this time I could see the vapor trail and it was perfect for windage but around a foot over its shoulders. I said, “you missed like a foot high.” My son said…”dad there is no way I missed by that much, I would have noticed.” This whole time he remained calm and with what he said, I realized what had happened. I was helping my friend and his daughter get their drops right and had put their 6.5 creedmoor data into my kestrel a few days before. I looked down at the kestrel and scrolled down and saw that it was indeed on the 6.5 Creedmoor data. Feeling like a total idiot, I quickly switch it to the 7 MAX rifle and it calls for 8 MOA. I dial back down to 8 MOA and tell him to put it just on the left side of her chest because she was facing us now but facing at the 5 o’clock position. I wasn’t worried about penetration as we were using 169 Gr Hammer Hunters. He squeezes the shot off and the cow hikes up here leg and hobbles about 10 yards and falls over dead.

My son instantly asks what happened with the first two shots. I looked at him and said “ Your dad had a senior moment and didn’t change to the right rifle in the kestrel.” He laughed and said, “well those two misses arnt my fault then.” I replied, “totally not your fault.”

We got to the elk and he had hit her right where he was aiming. The bullet entered on her right side, clipped the top of the heart, went through the left lung and exited right behind her left shoulder. The heart was hanging on by a thread. I removed all the organs and showed him the damage so he would understand what goes on when a bullet impacts an animal.

All in all, it was a great time and always remember if you have multiple profiles in your kestrel, make sure you are on the right one!


All the dark area on the heart is where the 169gr hammer hunter ripped it apart.
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Well-Known Member
LRH Team Member
Feb 2, 2019
Tucson, Arizona
That's is just awesome, and yup, wasn't his fault LOL.

Congrats to you both and one very nice shot he made.
Nov 26, 2019
That's a great story! Your son will forever remember your humility and you taking responsibility. He also won't let you forget it! HAHA
What a great harvest, that's great teamwork right there!

Tell your boy it's what old guys do, I've one the exact same thing but I missed 6x because I kept thinking I must be doing something wrong. I was telling myself what you were telling him. I missed a 340" bull and only discovered my mistake hours later.

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