Bellwood native gets hunt of a lifetime
Bellwood native Jared Cowan has been hunting for two decades, but this fall, he experienced the thrill of his hunting career when he killed a bull elk for the first time in his life while hunting in New Mexico.
Cowan, 32, who now lives in Greensburg, used a Remington 700 rifle to kill the 650-pound elk, which had five points on each side of its antler rack.
Cowan was hunting with one of his relatives and two friends in mid-October on a 550,000-acre land unit known as the Mogote Ridge, which is approximately a 90-minute drive from Santa Fe, N.M.
Through a random lottery, the four Pennsylvania hunters had the good fortune of securing out-of-state New Mexico elk tags for the dates of Saturday, Oct. 17 through Wednesday, Oct. 21.
Cowan killed his elk just about 10 minutes before nightfall on October 21 in the middle of a two-acre meadow at an elevation of approximately 9,500 feet. Cowan’s relative, who did not want to be interviewed or have his name used for this story, also shot and killed his first lifetime bull elk in the same location, just before daybreak on Oct. 17.
Cowan’s older brother, Josh, made it a trifecta for the family by also shooting and killing a bull elk for the first time in his life with a bow and arrow during a separate trip to Colorado in September.
Jared Cowan said that his elk was of average size for the species.
“It was medium-sized,” said Cowan, who killed his elk with a shot to the neck. “A lot of the ones that you see on hunting shows are probably 800 to 1,000 pounds, and they can get up to 1,200 or 1,300 pounds. But 650 pounds is a pretty decent-sized elk.”
Cowan said that making the elk kill was one of the milestones of his hunting career, and not simply because of the kill itself.
“It was like a dream come true,” Cowan said with a chuckle. “I can’t even explain how thrilling it was, just from the amount of work that we did in scouting this place, and the homework that we did from 1,800 miles away to find the campground.”
Cowan said that Google Earth maps, road maps, and topographical maps were used to find and scout the remote, secluded territory.
“We used a lot of maps so that we could figure out what the terrain was like, and what roads that we could take to get in there,” Cowan said. “(It was a challenge) just because of the size of the territory. We were 20 miles from the nearest town, basically in the middle of nowhere.
“I had never been there before, so I didn’t know the terrain, and I didn’t know what to expect,” Cowan added. “I shot the elk, and it landed right there at the spot. It took all four of us to field-dress it, just because of its size.”
An all-terrain vehicle was essential in enabling the four hunters to transport Cowan’s kill back to the hunters’ camp base site.
“We had taken an all-terrain vehicle with us on the trip, so we were able to get the carcass to the vehicle, and we were able to drag it to the road with that,” Cowan said. “Then we cut it, and got it back to camp.”
The foursome’s camp site was located about five miles from the site of Cowan’s kill.
“(Transporting the elk) was a pretty big challenge, just because of its size and weight,” Cowan said.
Cowan said that elk meat is a delicacy.
“It’s about as delicious a meat as you can taste,” Cowan said. “Better than venison, even better than beef.”
Four days prior to Cowan’s kill, Cowan’s relative shot and killed his first bull elk in nearly the same location. That elk weighed approximately 500 pounds and sported four points on each side of its head.
“He had been to Colorado maybe 10 years ago and had killed a mule deer on that trip, but was not successful in hunting for elk,” Cowan said of the relative.
Cowan’s older brother, Josh, 34, — a 2005 Bellwood-Antis graduate who now lives in Ellwood City and who the Mirror tried unsuccessfully to contact – killed his first bull elk with a compound bow during a visit to Colorado Sept. 17.
Josh Cowan’s kill weighed approximately 850pounds and sported six points on each side of its head.
“Hunting elk with a bow and arrow is tougher than it is with a rifle because you have to get closer to the elk,” Jared Cowan said. “He had to call his elk in, and shoot it from a distance of about 40 yards.”
Jared and Josh Cowan’s father, Joe, 59, who lives in Tipton, initially had the opportunity to go on the New Mexico trip but had to decline because of work commitments. Joe Cowan gave his spot on the deer tag to the family relative.
“It was really great to see all three of them get a bull elk this year,” Joe said of his two sons and his relative.
Jared Cowan would love to go elk hunting again, but realizes how fortunate he was just to get this year’s opportunity due to the lucky random drawing.
“It’s just random,” Jared said of the New Mexico drawing. “They draw their tags just like Pennsylvania draws their tags – they put all the applications into a hat and basically give just so many out. They give so many to New Mexico residents, so many to hunters that go with outfitters (guides), and the remaining six percent go to non-residents with no outfitters.
“The success of drawing a tag is only six percent, so it’s unlikely that I will go every year, but I will probably apply every year or every other year,” Jared added. “It’s definitely something that I want to do again. Once you’re hooked, you’re hooked.”