Contributors to this thread:
My wife is expecting our first son in May. I'm 36 and in decent shape. Long term goal is to learn my way around elk and mulies by the time my son is old enough to go. I wish I'd started earlier. I want my son to have that available to him earlier in life.
I have some questions, but first let me make an offer.
My family has a nice place in the Smoky Mountians of east TN. I have fly-fished since I was big enough to walk the creeks with dad. If somebody could help me out, I'll gladly put you and yours up for however long with free accommodations fifteen minutes from Gatlinburg and guide you for 3-5 days of free fly-fishing in the Smokies, Watauga, South Holston, Clinch rivers, and/or Cherokee NC areas. We can even do float trips out of my 16' Clackacraft Eddy.
I'm looking to diy elk during archery. Most of my research so far has been centered on Colorado. I've read mostly on the Flat Tops area. Honestly, I just feel overwhelmed the more research I'm doing.
I've been in the Weminuche, but not for hunting. I've never been above treeline there though and would figure a pack service would be necessary there.
If anybody is willing talk, I'd be happy to exchange information via PM. We are clean living, honest folks who love momma and fear God. I'd treat you right on my offer.
Do you have points In any states? If not, you should start accumulating, as even a couple points can help you out. If you are brand new to western hunting, PM me what your looking for and i can help get you started in the right direction.
The options are extensive. Go hunting! You will learn a lot by just doing it!
Funny, wife and just got thru watching a video on southern Appalacia, Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smokies, all the caverns, Biltmore, etc. Gatlinburg park was in it. Consider hunting Washington over-the-counter western WA elk, but you choose your weapon and season. Archery elk is usually the first two weeks of October. You can drive to and backpack/walk in many places. The habitat and terrain there would be very similar to where you live, densly forested mountains. Elk are present, not in great numbers, but if you learn to hunt them there, you can bave success hunting them anywhere. They are big bodied and bulls not as vocal as Rocky elk. They stay in smaller individual ranges, dont migrate as much and run as far if spooked. I have spent considerable time fly fishing and elk hunting the west when I lived there for 30 yrs. I can offer advice and tips. Maybe even rendevous for a hunting/fishing trip in the future. I am in good shape and still very capable in those mountains, at 62. Still very much pbysically active, work out, and bike, run, and hike. Start researching SW Wash., Gifford Pinchot NF. Got lots of places, not hard hunted esp.,off road.
How far is your place from the Dragons Tail?
Mule, our place is less than an hour from the dragon. You would drive through Gatlinburg and get on the Foothills Parkway outside of Townsend.
Thanks for all the messages and replies, fellas.
I'm in an annual managerial planning meeting for the next two days. I'll get back to everybody with more details on my end after this work jazz is done.
If you are going to get into the points race, I recommend researching how much it will REALLY cost and what type of hunt you will realistically be able to get by the time you accrue enough of them.
I'm on the fence with the points race. I'm thinking just start this year OTC and do those kinds of hunts, or private land hunts if able, long-term.
From my limited experience. Getting to know an OTC unit can yield a great hunt. The value of really knowing an area can be higher than a limited entry tag that takes forever to draw...and you get to hunt whenever (and learn the unit for a one time hunt). In most cases, investing time in an area to learn what the elk do, where they rut, where they go when pressured and where the hunters go can consistently provide a "limited entry" type experience. Sure, the size of the mature bulls might not be there...but the action most likely will.
If you want to go this year I would suggest applying to New Mexico. No points needed it is a random lottery. If you don't draw fall back is Colorado OTC. I would still buy a point or 2 in both CO and Wyoming in the next few years as a few points can help a lot. After that not as much. As a father with small kids I would also suggest buying points for deer and maybe antelope in Wyoming. The reason is you can share points in Wyoming. If you start now when your child turns 12 you can split them and each have 6.
Wyoming sells pref points for those under 18 for a greatly reduced rate. Not sure what age you can start buying them for him, (don't forget her if you get a "her" eventually) but you can call and ask them.
Started doing it for my granddaughter and when she graduates college in 2 years we'll have enough for some good units.
You do not need someone to "guide" you. My first elk hunt was a DIY drop camp. I read all I could on BS elk forum, asked questions, did research on elk hunting, watched youtube vids. Bought some calls and got confident. The drop camp was in an OC tag area. I went, found elk, first day called in a big bull (no shot). Saw several not legal bulls through the week. I did kill a cow on the 3rd eve. I learned a ton that week. You can do it and be successful with some planning.
Gear Question: I've got Monarch ATB 8x42's. Would these be sufficient if I just added a spotting scope? I'm not sure a spotter is even necessary.
No need to be intimidated by all the information. Doing an elk trip is actually easy. Killing elk usually isn't, but its really just camping and you spend all day hiking and sneaking around the woods. You can be far from help so be prepared to navigate and take care of yourself and be prepared for 200-300 pounds of packing to do if you get lucky.
You need to eat, sleep, stay dry, and hike a lot. You don't need a lot of fancy gear. Good boots, rain gear and normal hunting clothes and equipment. If you do a backpack trip and you aren't already a backpacker, you need some gear but I would hunt from the truck your first time. Most elk are killed by guys who started from a road that morning.
The camping, clothing, and gear is mostly common sense. The successful hunting part usually takes some experience and persistence but gaining that experience is a blast. In the end a lot of folks realize the journey and mistakes were just as important as the successes, even if it didn't feel that way at the moment.
I figure I'm going to invest in high end boots and a Stone Glaciar 5900. Other than that, I think I'm fine on gear. Whether or not I should upgrade my binos I'm on the fence about.
I'm gonna be somewhere chasing elk with a bow this year...learning and enjoying the western country. For sure.
Thanks for all the messages and comments, fellas.
Your whitetail stuff will work. My last elk hunt I used glass on day 1 and that’s it. If you walking to glassed elk you’re probably walking by elk you didn’t see. Your feet are more important than your boots. I’ve elk hunted in Wolverines, Danners, Keens, all steel toe and never had a blister or hot spot, but I wear them every day to work in and my feet are used to them. Condition your feet to your boots and you shouldn’t have any problems. You’ve got what 12 years until your son is elk hunting? Just go and you’ll get it figured out. People have success in lots of units but they know the unit. Pick one or two units and stick with them until you figure the elk out. Read all you can on here and learn to bugle. Most important thing is just to go, and go every year if you can. It takes time and experience but it’s a blast chasing elk even when you don’t know what you’re doing. ;)
Great advice from Glunt!
Started bowhunting elk with not much more than a decent pair of boots, sleeping bag, a pawnshop Groves recurve, and second (or most likely 3rd) hand army surplus camo and backpack. Used recycled plastic bottles for water and just drank directly from the streams. Took candy bars, granola bars and tuna fish for "backpack food".
Gawd, we had a lot of fun! Killed a few elk as well:)
If you decide to get a spotting scope, don't forget to get a window mount. Eventually you will want to look at some country from the road and the mounts are pretty cheap.
Panther, The time to start is now... Actually the time to start is age 25 but nothing we can do about that now. I say we because I only wish I would have started hunting elk with a bow earlier than age 42, I am now 48. I rifle hunted my younger years which was great but now that I have made the switch I cant help but think how great it would have been to bow hunt elk in the early years. It seems like a huge task to start out but really its as simple as just go. We camp out and its the best week of the year hands down! good boots, rain gear and GPS are a must. Otherwise the focus is on hiking, figuring out where one is hanging around and see if he is interested in playing along... I started having kids later than most and I can only hope that I can share the Rocky mountain with them and pass it on!
Check the stats - the Flat Tops are private land only for OTC. The herd is large, the access is relatively easy, the county is gorgeous. The Wilderness area gets a lot of pressure - from both individuals & outfitters ( reliable 2nd hand info). It might be over-run if the number of tags wasn't somewhat limited. Last year, many residents drew the Flat Tops with zero points; NR's needed 2 points. Check the stats. Look around. There are "zero point" opportunities for NR's willing to do the homework.
You do not need a spotting scope to hunt elk. Most elk country you can't see 30 yards. The bulk of glassing can be done with binoculars. If this is your first elk hunt, you shouldn't be that picky anyways.
8x42's will work just fine. Not much need for a spotter in my opinion, just an added weight and expense. You will know looking through binos if the bull is worth going after. For your first few hunts, I would shoot the first legal animal that presents an opportunity. Get a few under your belt before you worry about horns. Yearling cows are particularly tasty.
Don't honestly think that I've ever got to see an elk I killed with binoculars or a spotting scope. I do bring binoculars along, just don't get to use them much.
My hunt pack is as spartan as Tavis' camp. Ounces can quickly add up to pounds. My son packs the bino's. His pack probably weighs 10-20 lbs more than mine. We often seek overlooks, where the vista can be miles, and take turns glassing. It's interesting how often those same high points are covered in elk tracks.
Lots of guys stick to the dark timber for elk and don't use optics.
I do tend to hunt the more open country up at treeline for the most part. My hunting partners and I might have killed one or two bulls that we didn't see first from long distance with my binoculars, but those were the rarities. Glass from a distance, spot the elk, figure out where they are going, bust tail to get into position, use the right calls at the right time when you are in their living room, and shoot the bull when he comes to check you out.
Hate wandering aimlessly in the endless woods in hopes of stumbling on an elk.
I use my glass to save my @ss!
I started out like Tavis. Used Black Widow recurve, garage sale tent, leather work boots, cotton woodland camo and wool shirt-pants from Goodwill, cheap plastic poncho for when it rained. Garage sale Coleman stove and gas lantern. My elk "hunting rigs" before I was 30 were a Mercury Capri, then a Volvo, then a 2WD Chevy pickup with a leaky camper shell. Didn't own binoculars. Our cooking shelter was a blue tarp over poles wired to trees.
Our success rate on elk was phenomenal. Some years we were 5 for 5, 6 for 6, 6 for 7.
Imagine how well we would have done with Sitka, Kifaru, Kuiu and Swarovskis!
First elk I killed, I parked my old Buick Regal by the main highway and started hiking. I like Jaquomo's post. I think his point is, that it's not the gear you buy, it's more to do with how much time and effort you put in, and of course luck. I would say that apart from the bow, the next most important thing is some footwear that you can hike a lot in. After that I would say a rangefinder is next most important. As far as expensive camo goes, I still don't own any, just cheap stuff, and half the time I'm wearing blue jeans.
Irishman, yes - we hunted HARD. We hiked a couple hours in the dark in and out, often with hangovers. Then we started spike camping with "floorless" shelters (visqueen sheet over a rope between trees) but bears ripped our camp apart while out hunting so we went back to hunting from base camps, being more mobile, driving further to start hiking.
We didn't know anything. There was no "how-to" info available besides other guys at the bow shop. Used coiled gas pipe and wooden flutes to bugle. Never thought of cow-calling.
There were a lot fewer elk back then. We killed elk more by brute force and sheer luck than hunting technique and top-notch equipment.
You’ve gotten a lot of good advice here. I’d throw in hooking up with a local RMEF Chapter. Help out with the banquet and projects. The guys and gals I’ve met through this are more than willing to help you out. All the advice will go out the window on about day 4 in the mountains. Stay positive.
Good idea, JStephens. Joined RMEF and will attend the local banquet. I also figure if I'm gonna hunt elk, I should support conserving them and lands they roam.
Question: I've got an iPhone 6. Should I just purchase GAIA for $40 as opposed to a handheld Delorme?
IPhone and GAIA vs InReach are two different animals. If you want to communicate with someone where there's no cell service then the InReach is the ticket. If you just want to navigate with GPS overlayed into topos and satellite maps and have a means to charge the iPhone, then the GAIA basic for a one time $19.95 charge will work great so long as you download your maps ahead of time.
I use a small tablet with GAIA Premium, small GPS with chip for backup (lithium batteries that last a season) and SPOT. This year I may ditch the GPS and SPOT and go with InReach. Love the little LG tablet with the GAIA satellite and topo overlays, though.
“IPhone and GAIA vs InReach are two different animals.”
Lou, When I use my inreach it stays in my pack. It’s bluetoothed to my phone in which I’m using the Garmin Earthmate App with aerial, topo, etc. just like GAIA. Yes, you can text, SOS, and get weather updates but you can also use it as a pretty darn good GPS with pre-downloaded maps too. I’ve never used GAIA but I think the Garmin Earthmate app is pretty similar.
Also, have Brad show you the setup. I think you will go inreach after seeing that capability.
Have you checked out elk101
Old goat, yes, I did. I joined that and started it yesterday. Trying to spend an hour a day researching elk hunting advice and strategies.