Elk hunting is a sport that dates back to the beginnings of human civilization wherever elk roamed. They have been hunted for hundreds of years for their antlers, their meat, and their hides. Hunting elk is a way to connect with the generations that hunted before us. Today, you can find a variety of guides, outfitters, and even online elk hunting trips to help you plan out the hunting adventure of a lifetime. Whether you are a veteran or a first time hunter, here are five tips to help you achieve elk hunting success.
Elk hunting is not for everyone. The hunt can last day and night, and may take several days to complete. You will be traversing miles of terrain in flat expanses or rugged hills, through plains, and forests in order to track that elusive bull. In the meantime, you are also carrying pounds of gear, as well as food. You will be walking and squatting at various times throughout the day, for days on end. Be sure that you are physically ready to keep up with this. If you want to find the strongest and biggest bull, you will need to match its resilience by keeping up with it. Before your trip, perform strength and endurance exercises several days a week. Practice walking on a stair master with the backpack strapped to your back and gain endurance. Raise your cardiovascular health and start eating healthier to raise your energy for the hunt.
Elk hunting is all about patience. The adage “slow and steady wins the race” applies here. If you want to find the prized elk of your dreams, you will have to wait until you both are in the perfect position. Instead of charging after a bull head on, you will have to use subtler tactics. Track the elk by finding telltale signs of their presence. Learn how to identify elk tracks in the snow and dirt. Discover how to find their rubs, wallows, and droppings. Know the difference between an elk’s droppings and the droppings of another animal. Take the time to scout the territory you will be in the day before prior to when you jump into the hunt.
Hunt Smarter, Not Harder
It is true that you will likely have to do a lot of trekking to find your prized bull, but there are many times you may be able to sit still. The experienced hunter understands that there are times when it is more practical to hunt in a single area near a food source, a spring, fences, wallows, or other terrain where elk are sure to tread. If you seek to find an elk in mountainous terrain, it may be more difficult to target a food source because their food ranges far and wide. However, in the lower fields, elk are easier to find as they concentrate in groups in a particular area. While this may not be the best for cover, you are more likely to find a bull, and therefore make a good hunt.
Never Scare a Lead Cow
Elk live in a matriarchal society. This means that elk rely on a system of lead females for protection. The eldest is always designated the lead cow, and she directs the herd. It is her sole responsibility to make sure the herd is kept from danger at all times, and that all calves are protected. While the bull elk get preoccupied during the rut, the lead cow is instinctually in tune with their environment. When you hunt elk, be wary of the lead cow lest you run after a herd that has disappeared in the blink of an eye.
Some hunters believe that bugling has been so overused to the point of ineffectiveness. The truth is, hunting over the centuries has made elk wiser to the tactics of hunters. There is nothing more thrilling than making a bugle call and hearing an elk reply in return. However, repeatedly calling can have the opposite effect. It may be wise to bugle at first, to know if a bull is in your area. You may even get a hint as to their direction. However, bugling too much can cause the bull to lead away with his cows to avoid confrontation. They may believe a bull is being too aggressive and they would rather leave quietly.
Elk hunting should be an adventurous and thrilling experience. Experts spend years refining their craft, but nothing compares to the first hunt. Follow these tips to improve your elk hunting experience and make the most of your 2017 adventure.