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Up a tree stand with no exit
The woods where I hunt have been so dry and full of blowdowns that it made it almost impossible to sneak in on anything so I just set a tree stand in a location where I have had elk on my cameras a daily basis using a trail. They had been going down in the evening and coming up in the morning. I have been busted on the ground 3 times prior to setting the stand but they kept coming back. So I set the stand and have been sitting it for three evenings now and have not had the volume of flow I thought I would have on the trail. The cameras are showing use at the bottom of the trail during the early morning hours. 2:30am to 6:45 am. Before they were coming down the trail to the bedding areas at about 4:00pm - 6:00pm. Maybe the moon being out at has changed their pattern some. Last night was the first time I saw elk from the stand. A black bear came down the trail at about 7:00pm then about 25 minutes later a spike came up the trail looking for the cows that my calls belong to. The spike did not come past where I was calling however. He kept looking then would go back to 20 yards below me and then after some more quiet calls he came in looking again and then back to where he came from. It wasn't until just after I could not see my pins anymore that I started getting a chuckle behind and above me. So now I have the spike at about 25 yards trying his best to bugle and growl which almost sounds like a nervous grunt but had some growling after the noise, and also have a bull about 75-100 yards off chuckling to every cow call I make but it is too late to shoot. I stopped calling and waited until it was too dark to see the spike that was still standing there and then lowered my bow and pack. I broke a branch lowering it and the spike threw out another growl. I climbed down the tree and packed up my stuff and tried to head off in the dark but started stumbling over dead fall 30 seconds from my tree and had to turn on the headlamp to see. I assume that is when the spike finally decided he would take his leave and leave me alone. I don't know where the bull that was chuckling went.
Couple questions I have since I have not used a tree stand much. 1. When there are elk around you and if they bed down, how do you get out of your stand at night. 2. if you have to walk into your stand in the morning and have to walk adjacent to the possible bedding area, what should you do to avoid dislocating the elk. I will need a light to walk in and there really is no other way to get to the stand without going through a possible bedding area.
The thought crossed my mind to just sleep at the bottom of the tree and climb back up a couple hours early in the morning but it is supposed to start raining tonight and don’t want to bring in too much stuff that will make noise for wet conditions. I may just start hunting the ground again as soon as this rain shows up as the ground will be much quieter now but I will take anybody's thoughts on this situation
We had a stand this year that was similar, had to walk adjacent to where the elk were to get to it. One of the guys in our camp that hunted it actually busted a small bunch of elk out getting to it, about an hour later a cow came by and he shot her. They packed her out by 11 am. Same day another guy in camp walks back in there around 2 pm Shot a bull in another stand 100 yards away at 4 pm. Same group of elk? Probably not. Probably a different group. But maybe not.
I was in a stand opening day, had a group of cows and two small bulls come in at 11 am. They winded me and busted out. An hour later 3 cows and calf came by at 20 yards behind my stand. Differrent group? Maybe...probably. At 2 pm a bull came by, I shot him.
If there are multiple groups of elk coming by that trail, and there is obvious sign of elk in the area, no other way to access the stand and no other options to hunt, I say hunt the stand even if you bump some out going in. Maybe a different group will come in.
We go 25-30 feet up to help keep our scent higher, sometimes it works sometimes not. Depends on the terrain and other factors.
If you know where the elk are when you get down, just make a downwind pass of them, they don't really know what a headlamp is, but they know what your odor is!
Use a green light headlamp I've been told they don't see that as well as a white light.
I don't call at all from my elk tree stands. I just lay and wait to make ambush.
Good luck keep us posted.
I use the app Antler Insanity and make a trail on it to my stands. The trails are pretty accurate and generally don't need a light unless I get completely tangled up in something. Once you have your trail and stand marked on the app you can figure out your relation to bedding areas and skirt them. Then just work your way back to your trail.
I don't know about elk, but for whitetails I have a coyote call on my iPhone. A couple calls and they ease on out usually. Normally don't have to do this except on food plots. Wolf call maybe, or would you be scared they wouldn't come back ?
Red lense filter so you can see where you are going. Its much better for your night vision and animal tend to not notice it. Most headlamps now have it built in for just that reason.