View Full Version : Topo Maps

03-16-2011, 03:32 PM

I am in the process of trying to figure out how to locate potential elk holding areas using 7.5 min topo maps.
I figure water is an obvious place to start with feed close by.
I am new to elk hunting so any tips or advice would be much appreciated.

03-17-2011, 09:59 AM
Water is a great indicator of elk and they like dark timber for the afternoon naps. Water, quakies and pine are generally a great mixture for a good elk location. Also, getting off the beaten path is probably just as important as well. Find some spots on your topo map that look promising and then use Google Earth to study the drainage even closer for types of vegetation, water sources and clearings.

03-17-2011, 04:50 PM
Look for ridges, elk love ridges especially during warm weather. A nice trick with google earth is that you can change between terrain and satellite images. Look for isolated openings away from any kind of road. Good luck!

03-18-2011, 12:50 AM
this is a good thread, I'd like to hear some tips too.

03-19-2011, 01:11 PM
One of the best ways, is to start with your map, lace up your boots and hit a few of these spots as soon as you can get into the country to look for sign from the previous year. Rubs, wallows, feeding areas and beds. You can also get in a good workout while your at it.

03-21-2011, 01:17 AM
Let's talk feeding areas, what are you guys looking for? I've got some of the puzzle put together for a area i hunt, just can't seem to find a feeding area. It sure has everything thing else though. I need some more time in the woods!

03-22-2011, 07:29 AM
Stickn- most of the areas I have been hunting the elk are feeding in the bottoms on the lush grasses. There is water there and small open parks to feed in. Then they start back up to bed for the day before or at first light.

03-25-2011, 04:56 PM
Thanks for the tip! Now if we can just get that snow outta here... Guess we'll be able to get into the high country this year.

03-26-2011, 05:10 PM
Where I hunt elk (at 10,400 ft elev.) It's almost the end of May before I can get in there, with the snow this year I probably won't get in there until the end of June. Come on Summer!

03-29-2011, 11:08 AM
A few other things I look for; an area where there aren't a lot of roads (less hunting pressure) and midslope benches especially in rough country. I typically draw for the second rifle hunt here in southwest NM. The rut tends to hit it's peak the last week in September and by mid October (the 2nd rifle hunt), the herd bulls have pulled off the cows and are moving back into their hidie holes in the steep nasty stuff. If you are hunting during the rut, the bulls are in the cows more gentle country. Don't forget about springs/wallows.

08-14-2012, 01:48 PM
Thought I would revive this thread for this season so people can see it and add more comments.

Darrin Stark
08-15-2012, 03:08 PM
One thing i will remind you is you are not hunting whitetails so the elk won't feed in the same place everyday and they don't always use the same trails to enter the feeding area. Where i hunt i have found the elk have about three different areas and they rotate through them every few days so they don't stay in a area too long and attract too many prey animals and they also like to move to different feed areas depending on what they want to eat. What i would do if i were you is find a good vantage point via your topo map and get up there first light and start glassing all day try not to move much so you don't give your position away and just hang out pack a lunch and a bunch of water. It may seem like you are there forever but i will promise you that you will see more elk if you let the glass do the walking. I located three herds one day and i made a move and i called in a little spike for my dad. Good luck and hopefully this helps.

08-15-2012, 03:19 PM
Darrin nailed it on the head. alot of your thick timbered ridges will have pockets,(small openings, meadow so to speak), that you will only find by putting your boots to work, this is where your mature bulls will be feeding. as far as water goes top only shows you a good place to start looking. topo will show water where water is in early spring but doesnt show ur isolated springs and wallows. again along with what darrin said, glass glass glass!

08-15-2012, 03:33 PM
I definitely agree with Darrin. I have found that the elk to like to change locations. One of my favorite elk spots last year was a big canyon and in the bottom, there was a lot of vegetation and a little creek.. Then there was a few other spots on the sides of the canyon that had clearings.. It seemed like the elk were on a rotation of which clearing they ate in that night. I usually went to the bottom of the canyon and waited to hear bugles and glass the spots that I could. It put me in a ton of elk last year. You can definitely pattern them, it's just not quite as easy as whitetails and such. When looking at maps definitely look in the not so heavily human populated areas.. You definitely have better luck when getting off the beaten path!

08-16-2012, 04:56 PM
Here in Oregon, when looking at new areas on my 7.5 minute maps, the first thing I look for are the biggest roadless north facing areas I can find. I have almost never been let down by these areas.