Contributors to this thread:
Just wondering how many of you regularly use your nose to locate elk. I know it sounds crazy, but last year I smelled the elk before virtually every encounter we had all season. It's a great tool for me while hunting. Contrarily, my partner almost never smells them, but his hearing is much better than mine, so he generally hears distant bugles way better than I do. We make a good team in this respect. Just wondering if your sense of smell is a key tool in your arsenal...
When I get a whiff of elk, I immediately stop, and go into "ghost mode". It's reactive...you know you've become a true predator when you "freeze up".
I've never elk hunted, but I use my nose when hog hunting. I usually always smell them before I see or hear them.
Absolutely! I regularly come to a screeching halt while navigating areas when I detect elk stank. Not just smell.......I can taste that stank in the air sometimes I swear.
I think carefully look around to see if there is a bed, pee spot, pile of fresh poo........if not I start scanning hard to see if there is an animal in the direction from where the stank came from on the wind. Many times this has been my first indicator there is an animal close by.
If I can smell them it generally means they can't smell me, and that is a very good thing! The odor of elk is one of the best smells in the world!
Definitely, my last buddy I was hunting with couldn't smell or hear a fart if it occurred 2" from his face. Every time I'd smell elk I'd stop, "smell that".. huh?... distant bugles... "hear that".. just a blank stare every time. It helps if you can put 2 more ears on a bugle to help determine the direction, he wasn't much help. Either way it was still a fun hunt.
Yes. Smelling elk is a big deal when I'm hunting and guiding. I often smell elk when they're close and also can smell where they recently bedded. Both are very valuable bits of information.
I find it's a mixed bag. Certainly smelling them is a good sign!! But I've also smelled them and couldn't locate them. I guess the point is that it means the elk were there but it doesn't mean that they still are there. That smell can stick around for a fairly long time. I certainly go on alert when I smell it and slow down a bit. Definitely don't ignore the smell though!
Like Swampbuck, I don't elk hunt, but I have a very good nose, which is good because I have poor eyesight and even poorer hearing. I regularly smell hogs upwind, and even deer at times, in the rut. I can usually see the deer when I smell them though. As a boy, I smelled squirrels sometimes before I saw them. I suspect that they were on the ground in the vicinity and that's why I smelled them. That usually only occurred in wet conditions early in the morning. My theory is, that maybe they give off more odor when they're excited or scared. I don't know, but cottonmouth snakes will definitely give off a very nasty odor when disturbed, and I couldn't count the times I've smelled one prior to seeing him.
Never. I can't smell skunk, or elk. Or other "skunky " smells. Some people can really do this, but not me.
Absolutely. I've always wondered why some wear an elk cover scent. By doing so, you basically eliminate 1 of the 3 senses we use to locate elk.
Yes, and a rutty bull stinks different than the rest. The cows seem to have a "sweeter" smell and the bulls are just plain nasty. I get fired up when I smell a nasty bull.
Smelling elk is a good sign that you've got the wind in your favor.
Yes. Slow down or stop depending on terrain, maybe glass any dark thick areas.
Yes smelling elk is a good thing
But.... usually when I do smell elk it's because they have been there, either bedding or feeding and not necessarily standing upwind.
I have also located my dead elk by smelling them before actually seeing them as I follow the blood trail.
Once I finally figured out what I was smelling for, it really helps now. Brother is better at it than I am but it sure is a good tool to have.
In 2014, I was hunting with a buddy and a cameraman, making our way on the best elk trails we could find through deadfall timber.
Got a whiff of elk, put up my hand for the other guys to stop. 10 seconds later, a bull jumps up from his bed about 15 yards ahead of us. I "bark" at him, and he stops, giving my buddy what I thought was a clear 40 yard quartering away shot...apparently there were limbs in the way so he lived another day. Close, but no cigar. Someday, it's gonna happen!
Like Brad, I also rely on my nose to find a bull when it's down. We've recovered quite a few over the years that way.
Best of Luck, Jeff
Most definitely. It is key. Stop and scan.
When you smell elk, how long does the smell linger?
Brian, someone posted earlier there are different "aromas". I agree. To me, if it has a barnyard smell, then it could be a day or two old...possibly longer if there were a lot of elk. Maybe there's elk nearby, maybe not. However, when I get a whiff of a rutting bull elk so pungent it darn near burns my eyes, I know he's close!
Yes and yes... I've used my nose many times to locate live elk but it really comes in handy to locate a downed bull in heavy cover... if light is low or the blood trail is scarce I will mark my last known location and begin making loops downwind of where I expect the animal to be... I keep a puffer or lighter in my hand and when I catch a whiff I'll immediately check the wind.. work into it in a zigzag pattern... just like my lab does searching for birds... and a dead bull has a smell all his own...
Absolutely. In the Gila one year, I was hiking with my buddy along the "lee" side of a high saddle. My friend motioned that he smelled elk (he was upwind, closer to the saddle than me) and eased into the wind crossing over the ridge into the saddle. Saw a bull and cows bedded (midday) and made a killing shot. Never a word spoken. He reminded me of a german shorthair pointer drifting wind to find a covey of quail.