Elk Hunting Tricks

JimP

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So today I got to thinking about some of the tricks that I used to use to be successful in bringing home a elk every year. I had a great run for a long time and brought home a lot of meat, so much so that I would end up giving away quite a bit of it to keep fresh elk meat in the freezer.

One of the best things that I did was to go sleep with the elk the night before the season opened. I knew where the elk would water or feed and then the path back to the dark timber where they would settle down for the rest of the day before they started the loop that they would take the next evening. The only problem was trying to figure out a way to get within range of them early on opening day.

Well one year my brother in law said "why don't we go sleep with them." I looked at him with the look that your dog gives you when he has no idea of what you want to do. Well, we loaded up our packs with a days worth of food a sleeping pad and bag and headed up into the elk woods around noon the day before the season started. We decided against a fire figuring that we might scare them away so we just hunkered down under some trees and waited for daylight. Well daylight came and shortly afterwards we had one elk on the ground with the rest of the herd scattered. We figured that we needed to improve on our methods.

The next year we just took a ground cloth and a couple of wool blankets for the night. Daylight found us surrounded by elk, I mean we were right in the middle of the herd with our rifles a very long 5' away from us leaning against a tree. We figured that we needed to improve on our methods. We did get elk that year but it took a few more days.

The third year we figured that we knew what we were doing. We packed in the day before and ate sandwiches and cold twice baked potato's for dinner. After a restless nights sleep we both dropped bulls as the sun was trying to bake the frost off of the far hillside.

Over the years we did improve on our methods and I switched from using a high power rifle to a .44 magnum and then a .357 Herrett Thompson Center Contender. There were a few years that one thing or another would happen but we were usually home come Saturday night with elk hanging in the garage. There were years when we just were not in the correct place, but most years the elk were within shooting range of a rifle as they made they way back to the timber. Some years we had to wait a couple of days before they would show up in the mornings but most of the time we were home on Monday morning with elk hanging in the garages. We got so good at it we actually quit taking time off of work except for the Friday or Tuesday before the season opened. Utah did have a Saturday opening day until they decided to change it to a Wednesday quite a while ago, at that time we did have to start taking time off again.

It is often said that to be a successful elk hunter you need to know elk, you need to live with them, learn their habits, and then adapt. We managed quite well for a long time doing this.

Anymore my bones don't take well to sleeping on the hard cold earth. If I tried to sleep with the elk again it would take me a hour before I could be up and moving around on a cold morning. But those days of my youth were fun.

So what are some tricks that you might be willing to share?
 

Colorado Cowboy

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As I have said before on this forum, I am primarily a deer hunter, specifically mule deer. I have said (and completely believe) that to really be successful (like you are hunting elk), you need to be very familiar with the area you are hunting. I hunted the same area in the High Sierras in California for over 40 years. I knew exactly where I wanted to be at dawn on opening morning. That involved a serious 2 hour hike up a mountain before daylight. For several years my Dad and I would go up the afternoon before opening and stay the night. we took space blankets, sandwiches and a thermos of coffee. Several times I have seen a big buck I wanted the evening before opening and he would be in the same place as the evening before.

Like I mentioned, I believe in scouting/hunting the same area year after year. Over the years, I found a small spring where they watered, knew where they prefered to bed down in different types of weather, especially when it was windy and their escape routes when disturbed.

It has gotten harder every year to draw the tag I want, but the same rules apply, I have just expanded my hunting area to cover several areas in several states. When I retired 20 years ago, it was a lot easier to scout.

The majority of the deer shown here came from the same area, within a 1/2 mile or so of each other.
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kidoggy

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don't be afraid of the dark. most hunters are and must be in camp by nightfall. stay on the mtn till last shooting light ,then head for camp. same goes for morning. be where you want to be before it is light enough to shoot. many hunters must have a big breakfast that they end up puking up later while hiking. have walked many a friend to the puking stage they never seem to get it that biuscuts an gravy upset their tummies :ROFLMAO:
 

Hilltop

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Feb 25, 2014
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Stay determined and be willing to do what is necessary. Over the years I have talked to so many people that were unwilling to go where they really needed to to find elk. I personally would rather pack for 2 days than hunt for 5 unsuccessfully.
 

kidoggy

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I felt that way in my youth. there was no place and nothing I would not do to get an elk. still will but these days I don't mind an easy hunt or tag soup.
 

go_deep

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Nov 30, 2014
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A very smart hunter told me once, you'll find elk where you find them.
I've found elk in sage brush antelope country, low river bottoms that looked more like whitetail deer country, all the way up to what would be the more traditional elk country.
Guess my tip would be just that, just because it doesn't look like the cover of elk hunter magazine, doesn't mean it's not elk country.
 

dan maule

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Jan 3, 2015
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On a trip about 7 years ago in Wyoming we were hunting hard for three days. The weather was really warm and there was a lot of hunting pressure, at a loss for what to do next I told my brother let's just go where everybody else is not going. It didn't look like great elk country but about a mile up a trail that nobody was taking we found a herd of about 70 elk and my brother killed a 6x6. I do the same thing deer hunting here in Michigan, when the hunting pressure get's heavy I just go to areas that are either overlooked or take too much effort for other people.
 
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mallardsx2

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I am no expert, but I have been involved in more than a few elk dying over the years...

- Get up early.
- Stay out late.
- Play the wind and the thermals the best you can.
- Don't call until your in eminent range.
- There are many other noises one can make in the woods (other than bugles and cow calls) that will bring an elk into range.
 

ScottR

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On a trip about 7 years ago in Wyoming we were hunting hard for three days. The weather was really warm and there was a lot of hunting pressure, at a loss for what to do next I told my brother let's just go where everybody else is not going. It didn't look like great elk country but about a mile up a trail that nobody was taking we found a herd of about 70 elk and my brother killed a 6x6. I do the same thing deer hunting here in Michigan, when the hunting pressure get's heavy I just go to areas that are either overlooked or take too much effort for other people.
Elk move, and move, and move until the pressure ends. When I can't find elk in my general area I hike in about 4 miles to a spot where I can literally glass 5 different mountains. From there I note where the elk are and then also the elevations. Elevation many times separates a lot of the competition, the question then becomes how good do your knees feel? LOL
 

mallardsx2

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hunt exactly where you have killed elk before. i have a spot that 3 bulls have fallen with in a 100 yard circle. another hill side with multiple kills, ect.
Lot of truth to this.

I shot my elk 475 yards from where my buddy killed his and missed another the night before. My wife killed her bull 50 yards from where I missed one back in 2010. Lots of other examples I could come up with as well but often times the elk are in fact in the same place year after year if all things are equal. Pressure, numbers, ect ect.
 

kidoggy

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elk are much like humans in that they are creatures of habit. learn what they are addicted to . learn where they go to get their fix. :D
 
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taskswap

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All great advice. I'd also say for beginning hunters, don't use the "it's a sea of orange" as an excuse to avoid an area. An area packed with hunters isn't by accident, all those guys jockeying to get a shot at a single elk. If you see 45 trucks in a parking lot there's a good reason, and you could do a lot worse than spending a season or two exploring an area like that while you learn the ropes.
 
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kidoggy

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went out this morning and killed a cow elk. there were lots of hunters around so I just walked up a ridge about 500 or so yards ,sat down where I could watch one of the elks escape routes and sure enough half hour after light here they come right to me.

roughly a 200 yard shot with my win.70 .270, gotta love those easy packouts
 

JimP

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That's the smart way of doing it.

At my favorite hunting spot for elk I can do the same thing. Only problem is drawing a cow tag anymore.
 
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kidoggy

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this is an over the counter hunt. last year f&g got tired of paying the farmers crop damage, so they decided to wipe out the herds ;) :ROFLMAO:. they took 600 tags that was split across oct 300 tags and november 300 tags and in their infinite wisdom increased tag numbers to 3500 but all in november .

don't really mind the tag increase if the herds really need to be downsized but I sure wish they would have split all those tags across two seperate seasons instead of throwing everyone on top of each other.

OH well , maybe they will change it up again next year after hearing some hunters comments.

in the meantime ,I guess I still manage to get one.
 
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