New Mexico Hunter Harvests Extremely Rare Piebald Elk

Records & Rarities
New Mexico Hunter Harvests Extremely Rare Piebald Elk

In Corey Sexton’s nearly two decades of guiding, he had never seen anything like the piebald cow elk that stepped into view while glassing this fall. But getting close enough to shoot this uniquely-colored elk would prove more difficult than expected.

Sexton started guiding at Land of Enchantment Trophy Hunts at 18. Now, at 37, he is the owner of the outfitting business. With the help of Trenton Small, William VanHuss, and James Lott, Sexton searched for three days, looking for an opportunity to shoot this cow.

“Never in my life did I think shooting a cow elk would take that long,” Sexton told MeatEater.

piebald elk

Piebaldism is a genetic condition where certain areas of skin and hair lack melanocytes (melanin-producing cells). According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), the odds of an elk having the piebald mutation is about 1 in 100,000 (and there are about (100,000 elk in the state of New Mexico). It differs from albinism, where most animals will appear completely white with reddish-pink eyes. Instead, piebaldism can make its mark on an animal in different ways.

The first documented piebald elk in Pennsylvania only shows the unique coloration on its face. And this elk photographed by CPW, is primarily white with some brown patches of fur. The cow Sexton shot had interesting patches of white and brown throughout its coat, making it a perfect camouflage for the dry, grassy New Mexico habitat.

piebald cow

This cow's coat almost seemed to be specially adapted to the arid climate. But when she stood in front of a juniper tree, her silhouette became more distinguished from the surrounding landscape. Sexton made a clean 525-yard shot with his Gunwerks .28 Nosler.

“My heart raced as I watched her fall, knowing this was a shot of a lifetime,” Sexton said. “Walking up to her and getting to put my hands on her was an absolute dream come true. My heart was pounding out of my chest!”

As rare as this cow was, it might not be the only piebald elk in the herd. “We also located a bull that isn’t as colored, but has some white on him as well,” Sexton said. “I decided to pass on him this year and shoot the cow.”

Sexton is getting a full-body mount of the elk done at The Wildlife Art Studio. He’s also sending her teeth in to be aged. “She had hardly any teeth at all,” Sexton said. “I’m guessing she’s upwards of 15 years.”

Sexton has been hunting since he was six years old, but he called this “one of the most rewarding hunts of my life.”

corey sexton piebald cow

Congrats on the super cool cow, Corey!

Images via Corey Sexton.

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