View Full Version : Bivouac Camping: How close is too close?

02-23-2011, 05:12 PM
So your sleeping under you siltarp or in your bivy sac under a tree. You want to be close to the elk, deer, moose, sheep, goat, etc for morning. How far out do you trek from where you last saw the animals to where you sleep? Any lessons learned?

Elk: 500-750 yards downwind. So I can hear them move all night and relocate in the dark if need be.
Deer: 3/4 mile and uphill.
Sheep: Close as I can get and not be winded as they tend not to move at night.
Goat: Close as I can get and not be wind as the tend not to move at night.
Other: Most things around 1/2 mile except turkey, then only 100 yards from my morning set up.

I've found that a bivouac any farther than 750 yards from elk leaves me behind in the morning. I've had groups of hot elk that were moving all night wander off from me.

02-23-2011, 07:10 PM
For elk do you see any advantages to being camped above them as well? I am ready to spend the night with them. Too many years of 4:00am hikes from base camp. Is there any special piece of equipment that you are sure to take along besides bag, bivy, food and water?

02-23-2011, 11:31 PM
I always try to stay above and on the downwind (prevailing wind) side of elk. So if I'm on a ridge that runs west/east with elk on the north face, I will stay above them and to the east. Prevailing wind around here is always W by NW to E by SE. I always pack my bivy, thermarest, sleeping bag, siltarp and some thin rope to make a little shelter for myself. If I know I am camping close I will have cold food or eat someplace else so I'm not cooking too close to them after dark.
The one key thing I always have is an alarm clock that I can set to go off at specific intervals. Not much fun when your tired, but I like to wake up every couple hours to listen and see if the elk are moving. I only do this nights when they are rutting hard in the dark. If they bed quiet I will sleep the night. Lots of times I have had to move my camp to follow them in the middle of the night.
Other than that nothing special jumps to mind for gear. A good headlamp with a red light option, but most people have that already.

02-24-2011, 02:46 PM
For elk i like to try to find a little hole that is out of the way and that the elk wont come through. Preferably something downwind, maybe in a nook somewhere that is very unattractive to them. I have just had too many experiences of them moving and circling and waking up to an elk stampede in the night. Ill move up to a mile away because I know in the morning I can cover a mile in 20 mins easily and be right back on them.

02-25-2011, 11:59 AM
Sounds like great advise. I am sure looking forward to it!!!

02-28-2011, 02:00 PM
Just a little bit out of sight seems to be perfect for me. I they can see my camp, I get nervous. I think about a mile or so is about perfect. Elk can be much tougher because they tend to move around so much. You can be a mile or two away from them when you hit the sack and wake up to them walking through your camp in the morning.

03-02-2011, 02:22 PM
last year was my first DIY backpack Elk hunt friday night before the opener I heard one bugle very exciting on saturday night I heard several bugles all night still need to learn alot not sure were they went may have been to close.

03-02-2011, 04:27 PM
In areas where there aren't that many elk or they aren't really bugling through the day I will stay up the night and just listen. I stay back a few hundred yards downwind and listen to them bugle and move all night. That way I am on them in the morning. It is hard on you but you can always sleep away the afternoon like the elk do.

03-02-2011, 04:52 PM
I had elk almost run over me one night. I bivy'd out in a scree field under a pine tree as I didn't think elk would be silly enough to walk across loose rock. I woke up to what sounded like a heard of elephants crunching rocks together, sat up, put on the headlamp and saw elk all over the place. I was glad I had the tree next to me if I had to take cover. They bolted shortly after that. Found them the next day though...

I also had some cow elk walk 40yrds under me the night before the opener as I was sitting on top of my bivy eating a mountain house contemplating the next mornings activities. That was a nice way to open up the season.

These two instances are areas I would have never thought I would've seen them. They are nomadic I guess...

03-04-2011, 10:52 AM
I really like the idea of staying up through the night when they are active. Saves having to roll out the sleeping bag. I think this will surely be my first night strategy as I will be packing into the area at night anyway. Gets my heart rate up just pondering it!!

03-05-2011, 08:46 PM
I slept on a ridge that runs east to west and the elk stayed on the north side in the bottom of the draw...about 500 yards.. nice and easy to roll out of the sack and get on them

03-05-2011, 09:22 PM
I find it is great to stay up the night when the elk aren't that active in the day, but are rutting hard at night. I have had some wild nights making bulls go nuts in the dark. Defiantly worth doing once just to experience the bulls raging at night with reckless abandon.

08-04-2011, 01:38 PM
I think one of the things that needs to be considered is moon light. I would avoid ridges because these are travel cooridors at night. If moon light is poor I think they have trouble moving in the dark timber. Consider other elk on the move not the ones you are after. We use to have a spike camp on a ridge that we thought was off far enough from the elk we were targeting which was true. What we learned over the years was several times we woke up hearing elk move through but they were new elk moving in. The next morning we would see a different bull or group of cows that were not there the previous day. Think of it those terms if you stampede those elk will they also take the elk you are targeting off the mountain also. I would choose down wind but in heavy timber at least 200 yards into it.