Sitka Mountain Gear
How do you hunt.....???
Elk
Contributors to this thread:
jordanathome 19-Sep-17
jordanathome 19-Sep-17
Lark Bunting 19-Sep-17
Franzen 19-Sep-17
Dyjack 19-Sep-17
jordanathome 19-Sep-17
WapitiBob 19-Sep-17
APauls 19-Sep-17
squirrel 19-Sep-17
jordanathome 19-Sep-17
Missouribreaks 19-Sep-17
WapitiBob 19-Sep-17
HUNT MAN 19-Sep-17
squirrel 19-Sep-17
jordanathome 19-Sep-17
GF 19-Sep-17
squirrel 20-Sep-17
crazyhawksfan 20-Sep-17
Ucsdryder 20-Sep-17
From: jordanathome
19-Sep-17
I know...kinda late in the game for this kind of question.....but I'm curious.

First off, I tend to find locations for ambush set ups to hunt. A heavily used trail on the way to/from bedding and feed/water/social areas. A wallow area....rarely hunt over a wallow but pick spots on the way to/from. I generally like open areas with lots of shooting lanes and sight lanes. I rarely sit in tight cover....I wants shots from 20 out to 50 yards in multiple directions. I focus on first light to about 10'ish then usually break for the day until 4-5 pm then go find an evening spot to sit. I will sit a spot for hours unless the wind shifts or other factors indicate I need to move and pick a new spot.

Rarely do I creep and peek.....but now I'm thinking that might be a mistake. I certainly do on my way to and from spots....but I don't move all day from spot to spot looking for elk. I try to stay out of bedding areas.

So I'm thinking here at the end.....I am happy to stay out all day but should I mix some sneak and peek style hunting into the ambush setups through the mid day....and if so.....where? Bedding areas? Most elk will be down and napping between 10 and 4...right? I suppose I should expect more day time movement with the rut.....

You experiences and preferences are appreciated as I try to expand my quiver of strategies.

Thx!

From: jordanathome
19-Sep-17
I forgot to mention calling.....I tend to call every 20-30 mins either cow calling, raking trees, imitate a cow harassed by an immature bull....that one is fun and has been effective before, etc. I can't stand to sit and just wait and listen without trying to throw out some attractive noise.......

I tend to call alot less when sneaking and peeking......probably should do alot more....maybe every 100 yards or so?

From: Lark Bunting
19-Sep-17
Permission to post my anecdotal experiences? I can't guarantee that they'll help or hurt but you may find something in there that helps... (Warning, it's long)

From: Franzen
19-Sep-17
If they are talking, chase bugles... don't necessarily have to call.

If they aren't, do what you do and also glass openings to get a general location for setups. Creep and peek in the patchy areas, but only as a last resort in the thick stuff.

From: Dyjack
19-Sep-17
I like to run and gun elk. It's hard for me to sit especially when there's bugling happening. Until this past week I've never even found a spot with wind that allowed me to sit without swirling hard. No elk tag, but had a raghorn at ten yards wallowing in the water. He barked after he realized the imaginary slick trick in his lungs. Haha!

I think if there's no way to locate them then ambushing on a trail or wallow would have to do, but I really prefer being on the move. But that'd also explain why I spook a whole lot of shit.

From: jordanathome
19-Sep-17
Lark...PM will do. LOL I read your story so I have that.......

Bugling is after shooting hours and not too helpful other than a reference for where the elk had been at the night before the hunt. That educates some ideas on set up and approach based on educated guesses of where they are going (to bed) and how they might get there.

I have had very little daytime bugling and that was in response to elk calling/noises I was making during an ambush setup. One came in, another didn't......you never know. I suppose in hindsight I should be more aggressive and not static in my position when I get these responses......rush forward to a new position to where the bull was and hope for the best.

I do some glassing early morning before heading to potential ambush sites. If I see an elk I will change plans and try to intercept it. So far that produced one bull who did not follow my plan and I never intercepted him.

From: WapitiBob
19-Sep-17
"First off, I tend to find locations for ambush set ups to hunt. A heavily used trail on the way to/from bedding and feed/water/social areas. A wallow area....rarely hunt over a wallow but pick spots on the way to/from. I generally like open areas with lots of shooting lanes and sight lanes. I rarely sit in tight cover....I wants shots from 20 out to 50 yards in multiple directions. I focus on first light to about 10'ish then usually break for the day until 4-5 pm then go find an evening spot to sit. I will sit a spot for hours unless the wind shifts or other factors indicate I need to move and pick a new spot. "

That's not how I hunt nor do I recommend my friends hunt that way.

If you sit and wait for an Elk to walk by or bugle, you might be sitting a long time. If I want things to happen, the majority of the time, I make them happen. I'm not a believer in the Internet Elk Expert theories of "it's too early, it's too hot, or the Moon isn't right". We were bugling multiple Bulls from the 25 of August.

From: APauls
19-Sep-17
C'mon Wapiti it's easy to tell someone they're doing it wrong, but then follow it up with some tips maybe. I also don't hunt that way, but I've only been drawn 4 times, killed 3 and hit one shoulder so while I read these threads, I sure don't feel qualified to tell people the right way to hunt elk. I also live and hunt in flat flat flat wet wet wet country, completely different than the US. But I do enjoy reading the advice thrown out on here, and like to gleam information from them. So much good information.

From: squirrel
19-Sep-17
I hunt to have fun. Do whatever allows you to have fun. I could never sit as an ambush. (As a wheeze break, yes!). Techniques vary depending on quarry. If only a herd bull will do your approach will not be the same as if any satellite bull would be great. If you kill a big boy using satellite options you are very fortunate indeed.

When your heart is pounding and breathing in gasps and you can't wait till tomorrow s hunt... you are doing it right!

From: jordanathome
19-Sep-17
How do you make things happen if elk are not bugling in response? If you are glassing and don't see them? I know they are there. I find them....using my methods. I am trying to learn new methods. Your experience and suggestions are very much appreciated.

19-Sep-17
Don't rely on one method, use them all...but at the appropriate times and under the right conditions.

From: WapitiBob
19-Sep-17
I should have phrased it better; I don't hunt that way and I don't recommend that my friends hunt that way.

I call Elk. If they're there, they'll answer or I move on. I don't go 400 yards without calling no matter where I'm at. I rarely glass for Elk. I'll glass next week in WY but the country lends itself to it and I'm scouting for my 2018 tag. I've snuck up on a few but I called them first and followed them to their beds. I've sat water/wallows a few times and it proved to be a waste of time.

This year was no different; we started calling bulls before season. The other guys I know who had the tag were complaining about the non bugling Elk. I asked how much they called, "sparingly" was the answer. My response was the same as above, "If you sit and wait for an Elk to bugle, you might be sitting a long time". We rode 20 miles avg every morning, 10 in the evening, bugling every 400 yards and were into bugling bulls almost every morning and evening hunt. We bugled over 100 Bulls. Partner tagged out last saturday and that is the last Bull I know of getting tagged in that unit. I'm an aggressive bugler. It's how I learned and it's continued to work for me.

From: HUNT MAN
19-Sep-17
I am always on the move. I call a lot and make things happen. Follow those trails into there bedroom. Get the wind right and start calling while moving with the wind. Sometimes you have to get the party started! Good luck . Hunt

From: squirrel
19-Sep-17
What is in your quiver? In mine is a cow call a bugle a variety of reeds an elk antler binocs and a scope. With these tools and boot leather all things are possible. Calling... remember you cannot un-ring a bell. Before doing it make sure it is your strategy because after you do it it IS YOUR STRATEGY!

Sneaking into a bedded herd and closing to archery range is not a high success venture for most nimrods, especially for shooting a chosen individual (the herd bull). Can it be done? Yep!! Is it exciting?? Absolutely!!

Learn the country Learn the animals Use your quiver Have fun

From: jordanathome
19-Sep-17
Thx....just looking to expand my quiver of strategies. Very helpful!

From: GF
19-Sep-17
My brother and specialize in the fine art of sitting down to eat lunch with a cow-only tag in your pocket. One year he "called in" a long, heavy 7X8 that way - on public land. After the bull left, he stepped it off at 17.

Another time we were clomping along - walking way too fast & making way too much noise, so I was literally chucking pine cones at the back of his head to get his attention and slow him down when we walked right up on top of a VERY nice bull and the cow he was following. We froze and the bull circled up-hill of us, stopping behind a thin screen of brush at well under 20 yards. Cow Tag Magic again, but we did learn that 2 guys sound a lot like one Elk. That bull never spooked - he just left. Cow must've been REALLY hot!

Best trick I know, though… You've got to learn to work the thermals. If you hear them talking, you can determine whether they're moving or not and either slip in on them or figure out where you should set up an ambush. My brother sweetens the deal with a cow-butt deke and some cow-calling.

So the big question is... what do you do if they're down-wind? And my answer is: Ride the thermals. If they're uphill from you and the thermals are rising... you're screwed. Except that if you know there is one of those cool, wet patches that surround a little-bitty stream and follow it all the way to the bottom of the valley, you've got an elevator. Thermals in those microclimates run counter to everywhere else - just like a spring-fed stream that's prized by trout-fishers in hot weather and duck-hunters in the cold.

So you can always find a way to keep your scent drifting in the right direction, and if you're fit enough, I suppose you could just about bump a herd by letting your scent drift up to them and then ambush them by racing across the hillside and getting on the right side of them. I never managed to pull that off, but one time I did get seen by a few that were uphill and maybe 100 yards up ahead, so I doubled back to a cool spot, gained some altitude, and was able to loop around and come back down on top of them while they were still expecting a threat from below, I suppose. I stepped out from behind a big Doug Fir and had a big cow feeding about a dozen yards down-hill from me, just as relaxed as could be.

Another time I was working up to a herd from below, moving along the edge of a cool/wet patch - but not right IN IT because of the morning thermals - and a herd bull chased a satellite right across in front of me inside of 20 yards. He wasn't "big", but he was clearly the Boss.

Unfortunately, I was not at all prepared for the shot and then I got pinned down by a cow and laid there on my belly, listening to him kick the satellite's ass from hell to breakfast.... right until the thermals switched and the whole herd blew right out o' there. My better move would've been to belly-crawl back down-hill, out of sight of the herd, and sneak up through the thick stuff while the bulls worked out the Dominance Hierarchy. They sounded pretty distracted.

Anyway, that's what I figured out in about 3 seasons (and probably 50-60 days and several hundred miles of sneaking around) before I met a girl and moved out east. Still have an unchecked box on the bucket list and a Date With Destiny (I hope!), but if out-flanking a herd that's just about to catch wind of you doesn't qualify as a helpful hunting tactic, I don't know what would. And that girl I met still wants me to go hunting, as long as it doesn't prevent us from paying the rest of the bills, so 20 years later I really can't complain.

From: squirrel
20-Sep-17
If just killing a legal bull elk is your driving motivation and u r young and fit I would do exactly as wapitibob described above. Cover huge amounts of ground (on foot) and call endlessly till you find a young lonely dumb one. It's a mileage/ numbers game. Not easy physically tho

20-Sep-17
When there not talking we do lots of blind calling in dark north facing slopes mid day. Wait till the winds in your face, start high and work those calls. Might not be everyone's style but has worked well for us.

From: Ucsdryder
20-Sep-17
Squirrel what's that have to do with young elk? Mature bulls answer just the same. Or you could sit on a wallow and poop in a bag. Put a camera on a wallow and watch the dates, often they will go days without getting hit. I'd rather poke my eyeballs out.

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