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Elknut hunting vs elk killing
This is more of a broad-spectrum question for you elk killers to help us elk hunters. I know that elk are where you find them and 90% of the elk are killed by 10%. What is your opinion on why you are successful ( and by successful I mean shooting an elk). Is it you know where they are, how they move in different times of year, how they move with hunting pressure. Or do you believe you work harder, call better, possibly live closer to the elk (being able to scout). Which might give you the advatage. Or is the wind/thermals your big break. I ask cause my dad and I have been on 4 unsuccessful OTC Colorado elk hunts. We generally hunt around timberline and have seen several mule deer and could have shot several of them. Got within 50yds without really even trying. So I believe it's not that we can't get close enough to a critter to get a shot. Just can't seem to find the elk it huntable areas, and by that I mean right GMU, private property. We have seen some elk but it's always a mile away, by the time we get over there, no elk around. I just can't figure it out. I have readon a thread here that timerline muleys can be as hard to kill as an elk. Well it's not the case for me. Now granted, I haven't killed a muley up at timberline. But from my experience hunting it would have been pretty easy to kill one the past several years where we hunt. So I guess my main question is why do you think it is that you 10% kill 90% of the elk, and the rest of us just hunt / camp?
Sorry for not having paragraphs. I thought I put enough spaces in on my phone, but I guess not
Get a Mulie tag and maybe you’ll start seeing those elk:)
Pretty neat you are hunting with your Dad! Keep after em and it will happen.
Cause I don't hunt in Colorado. I hunt my back yard here in AZ and I know where the elk should be. However out of 4 tags over the years I have gotten 3 elk.
Much of OTC elk hunting in CO is a tough hunt with low bull:cow ratios and very pressured elk that know how to avoid human hunters.
As to what you're doing wrong? It could be anyone's guess. You might sound/move like human hunters and tip them off. You might be hunting a lousy place to hunt.
Personally, I think the #1 reason most people don't kill elk is because they're not hunting them like elk need to be hunted in order to produce results. Many hunt them like white tails. Many give themselves up and make it easy for the elk. I'd guess the #2 reason is location.
You say you get to where you've seen elk and then they're gone. Try just watching them and seeing what they do next time and then try being at that same spot before first light the next day instead of hiking over there when you see them. Keep in mind the wind as you go in and have it going to somewhere that they're not going to be coming from - ie: hike in on the ridge, not the creek bottom, or whatever the area dictates. If they're gone, they've probably gone to bed and you saw them in transition.
My top 3 elk hunting tips. Time , time and more time.
Big mule deer are alot harder to hunt than average mule deer. You also hunt elk different than you do deer.
We are not the best shots or the fittest group but we work hard, whether scouting online( even though we know our area well last fall we found a new little spot we never hunted before and found and killed elk there), getting up and out well before light every day. We also work with the wind religiously. We have had other people hunt with us that have been noisy walking through the woods. Also those deer don’t feel you as a predator
Killing one is easy once you find the right location. Location is the most important thing in any thing you hunt. If you get into elk everyday you will kill one. Take white mountain Apache herd for example. If you could hunt there you would kill one every year. Find a place where there is a lot of elk and you will kill one
10% of hunters killing 90% of elk killed... I’ve heard this before. But is this even a real statistic? Does that even compute???
The Colo stats provide survey results for percent of success. The last number I saw was something like 15 (bow) elk hunters out of every 100 fill a tag each year. 'Haven't checked in a while. 10% harvesting 90% = a little over 11 out of 100.
Work harder than 9 out of 10 guys and you'll be successful. That could be whatever is appropriate to your area. Scout more, hike farther, be more aggressive, be more patient, shoot better, leave earlier, return later, etc. Try things until you find what works.
1.) Decide on an area that you know holds at least a reasonable population of elk, then dedicate the time to learn that area intimately. By doing so, you'll also learn about the elk that live there. You'll eventually not only figure out where the elk are most likely to be...but why. Once you do, you'll spend your time hunting elk, not hunting FOR elk.
2.) As HUNT says, the more time you have, the better. You only need one time for all that preparation to pay off with opportunity, but you never know when that opportunity is going to present itself. If you're not there when it comes along, doesn't matter whether you're back at camp or back home, that opportunity is lost forever.
3.) Practice as much as you can. It's imperative that you develop supreme confidence in your equipment, and yourself as well. When s**t happens fast and we have an adrenaline overload, we don't always think clearly. That's when the muscle memory we've gained, through thousands of shots preparing for that exact instant, pays off in spades. Unless you can execute a proper shot at the moment of truth, all you'll be eating is tag soup.
I think the stat the OP was thinking of was the 10% of the elk hunters kill elk every year which I've heard bounced around but don't know how accurate it is.
You can't chase elk, you have to get in front of them. In that sense it is pretty similar to whitetails and really anything, but elk make a ton of noise and stink to high heaven. The downside is their home ranges can be about 100x larger, and they are a herd animal so you can go a week without seeing any then see 100 all holed up in some steep dark craphole. Being willing to dive right into such crapholes is in my opinion what weeds out quite a few elk watchers from the elk slayers.
It’s like the fisherman that catch’s more fish than his “share”. He probably spends everyday working on it one way or another
Often times, mid west guys hunt elk like white tails, can't do that.. in my experience, either killing elk or having awesome encounters, it's about finding the elk first then coming up with a plan to get on em.. don't walk through the woods "looking" for elk.. glass them or hear them first... but the other part to that is looking for them in "elky" spots, ie benches, bowls, drainages, etc.. I was told by a guy once in an OTC unit, "the elk are all over, ya just have to know where to look".. in camp, I've gotten up in the middle of the night to piss and thrown out a bugle, if I get s response, I make a plan for the morning, or glass the elk the night before on a ridge and made a plan to go after them the next morning.. just my two cents
In order to kill any animal consistently like a Elk you MUST be where Elk are. You can put the worlds greatest Elk hunter where there are no Elk and he will fare the same as you. Guys out West know where the Elk are just like you know where your Whitetail are.
Knowing the herds locations and movements/patterns put you in the ballgame. But you still have to close the deal. If you are covered up in Elk and fail to kill one then you are doing something wrong....they are not the most difficult to kill. The hard part is getting into them....the mileage and terrain. For Midwesterners luck plays a important part....
Hunt nailed it. X2. Time is YUGE. Guys giving themselves 5 days to hunt with 20 hour drives on each end are IMO cutting their odds by two thirds vs 10 days in the field. If their odds were 15% now they are 5% on a five day hunt. If all you have is 5 days to hunt then maybe spending the coin on a private ranch or some such would be worth a look. (money and time tend to be proportional to each other, the more money the less time needed.... the more time the less money, it's the rare individual that has both....) On public land it can take 5 days just to get into them.... unless you have some inside info or..... just get lucky.
Lucky does happen though. It's a fact lucky gets far luckier with twice as much time to get lucky.....
More often than not we go into an area we've never seen before. We've killed elk pretty much every trip (but for the last one..... we actually passed on bulls and in the end it bit us. No regerts.....) But we plan 10 days IN THE FIELD minimum. Two days travel each way. In reality..... that "last" day has to be tempered with the possibility of having to deal with a really large animal and maybe a couple hundred lbs of meat a long ways from transportation. In reality the "last day in most cases is the "next to last day". Keep that in mind as well.
X2 with Hunt on time!
X2 with Idyl if you are going to be successful in Colorado OTC units then by gawd you better be an elk hunter!
Elk for me is the most adaptive on the fly hunting that I have done. Calling, stalking, setting stands on trailss, wallowed, and water holes. Typically I needed to be somewhere different morning, noon, and evenings.
Lastly, get into the point game and go to a premium elk area with very different herd dynamics and you may find killing not that hard but killing is herd bull very hard..
Elk are nomads in the Rockies and often you need to hunt for days just to find them. And when you do and you spook them, you may need more days to re-find them. The ones I hunted in MT on public land were anything but easy. And the biggest mulies there were even more difficult to see let alone shoot, outside of their rut anyway. Cascades elk stay closer to their 'home range' and in my opinion are easier to kill than Rocky elk, but still never a gimme on public land.
Hunter success stats are skewed upward by lumping private/outfitted hunters with regular public land hunters. In the units I hunt, actual public land archery success rates are around 5-6% for any elk.
Those who are consistently successful are in my area are highly mobile, have some pockets where elk hang out more consistently than in other places, and keep hitting those high percentage pockets. They don't randomly wander the woods throwing out bugles and cowcalls. Often they are on the elk prior to opening day and make it happen the first weekend before elk are blown up. That, or they have found a waterhole tucked in a pocket and sit it day after day while leaving the elk alone in the bedding and transition areas.
I'd also add this.....most guys aren't willing or motivated enough to do what it takes to be consistently successful every year on public land with your bow. It's a life changing commitment to make that happen and even then....no guarantees. You gotta love the whole process of it. It's year long effort if your an idiot like me....you'll need all year and a helping of being in the right place at the right time....which doesn't happen on accident. If you get a chance to hunt elk with a "killer" you need to go. You will learn more in that one day with them then in a year of making your own mistakes. There's guys that just flat out get it done, but you would never know what goes into it behind the scenes until you hang out with them a bit and see what it takes.
Killed elk way back in the wilderness, and killed 'em within sight of a busy highway, so if I had to put a finger on my success I'd have to say it boiled down to simply being in the right place at the right time. "Lucky" for lack of a better term, as anticlimactic and unexciting as it may be..
Hunt nails it, time, time , and time, I would say that that does not necessarily mean time in the field for one hunt, I think aggregate time in the field chasing elk is the most important factor in success, you can be in killer shape, in a great area, and surrounded by elk but if you don't have past experience to draw from you will not recognize opportunity's, you will not capitalize on tiny mistakes a bull makes that a person with years of time in the elk woods will spot and know how to use to his advantage..
on the other hand that person with experience can usually pull elk out in a tough area as well, they have good instinct on where elk will be in a huge area that looks all the same to someone new to the game, and they know when to move, when to hang back and let the situation become more favorable before making a play, they don't need a ton of elk because they can kill almost any bull they find...
the one thing that I think new elk hunters get stuck on is hunting too small, picking an area that looks elky and just staying there, waiting for the elk.. I find that covering as much ground as possible via glassing or calling until you find huntable elk usually pays off, I don't understand people who go whole hunts without seeing elk, if i'm not seeing multiple elk in a day I figure I am in the wrong spot and move on.
its not how you hunt, its where you hunt, in many cases............. also most unsuccessful guys are not mobile enough, and do not put enough time away to hunt...
If your not a local, and are coming in from out of state, you should have put away enough days to hunt,,,, if that means giving up your deer season at home vacation time, do it,,,,,,,, even than no guarantee......
Your best off, really hunting out of your truck, truck camping, and being ready to bivy hunt at any time,,,,,,,
getting into an area, to find no elk or lots of hunters, who are already dug in for a week or so, time to move,,,,,,,
is it more work sure it is, but do you want to find elk, or look at sceneary
Mine will be just like wyobullshooters.
My core otc area is approx 100 sq miles. Rarely do I use my gps. I’ve killed 4 elk standing by the tree and calling.
I have circuits that I do each morning and evenings I scout/hunt, maybe sit in a tree stand.
After hunting the same core area for 28 years there isn’t hardly a place I go and not get into elk But I’m fortunate to be able to spend many summer weekends finding those spots close to the road
As others have mentioned:
Time is crucial. Every day, hour or minute can make a difference.
Persistence. Hunting every day no matter how tired you are or what the weather is doing.
Attitude. Always hunt with the mindset of being successful, but never get down when you aren't. That just means you are edging ever closer to when it will happen.
Aggressiveness. Make your chances happen. Don't hunt recklessly, but when you see or hear elk, close the distance. That factor alone will eventually make chances for you.
Be mobile. You need to find elk before you start hunting them.
Hunt where there is elk. (seems obvious but you can't kill what's not there) Be patient and not disturb and blow everything out by blindly walking all over. Know how to call elk (at least basic tactics). Have good/decent optics. Be able to make the shot when it counts. When you do find elk - take your time and put yourself in a position to be successful - I stalked a lot of mule deer successfully before I started hunting elk - took me a while to realize what you can and can't get away with elk (for example - I've found I can often times get away with more noise with elk but almost zero tolerance for bad/swirling wind) Keep grinding it out - even when you want to quit. Be in the best shape possible.
As stated before I personally limit myself to premium hunts with little competition. If I give myself enough time killing any elk in this situation is not that difficult. If I were hunting OTC Colorado that would not be the case.
Elbow grease, and boot leather...which all leads to experience.
Get busted by elk enough, and you'll eventually figure out how to get the best of them, and capitalize on different encounters/ scenarios. Always keep the wind in your face, and if that's not possible, back out, or take a nap.
There are two speeds to elk hunting. One is covering lots of ground to find them. #2 is going at a snails pace when you are into them. And possibly going back and forth. Knowing when to switch is key. This comes from experience. I usually fail. Greg
I agree with what has been said so far...
8 of the bulls I have killed were killed in units that I was hunting for the first time, all on public land and all either OTC units or low point units. In fact, my success rate is actually better the first time I hunt a unit.
For me, I believe the biggest key to success is understanding topo maps and the way topography affects elk bedding, feeding and movement between those areas. Once you have that basic understanding, it's not that difficult to study a topo map and predict where you will find elk. I may be fortunate in that I'm a Land Surveyor and have worked with topo maps for 40 years and have actually done the field work to create them, I have drawn them by hand and when I look at a topo map I visualize a 3D image of the ground.
When I'm studying a topo map I mark the areas that I believe elk will either bed in, feed in or travel through. When I pick an area to hunt I try not to limit myself to an area that has only one drainage. Preferably the area will have multiple drainages intersecting the main drainage so all my eggs are not in one basket and I have multiple options in case one or more drainages are dead. I identify multiple "elky" looking areas in multiple drainages or tributary drainages. You need to have multiple options and the flexibility to move if you're not into elk.
Once I'm out there hunting, time is valuable and I don't wander around aimlessly hoping to bump into elk. I make a plan for where I'm headed that day and how I'm going to get there to maximize my chances of elk encounters throughout the day. I try to hunt all day in the right areas based on where I think the elk will be in their daily travels. My plan often changes during the day if bugles or elk pull me in a different direction, and I've killed a large percentage of bulls around midday.
As others have said, time is very important and you should give yourself at least 2 weeks for an elk hunt.
You have to stay positive and motivated. You have to work very hard, often hunt (wisely) all day and not be afraid to walk to and from your hunting area in the dark. I've talked to a lot of negative hunters at the trailheads who were either not hunting hard enough or who were leaving too late in the morning or getting back way too early in the afternoon and missing the best times to hunt.
Unless you've hunted there before or have a very good reason to believe you will find elk in a certain location, don't commit to that location until you're sure elk are there. I like to pick a distant location near the top of a drainage that I can hunt my way to and back in a day, moving fairly fast and looking for elk and elk sign. I like to be fairly high in the afternoon when the elk will be getting out of their beds and getting active. That usually means a fairly long walk back to camp after dark. Once I find elk, I may or may not pack in and set up a spike camp depending on logistics. Or I might pack a spike camp into an area right off the bat if I have multiple options from the spike camp location and if I'm relatively confident I will find elk somewhere nearby.
I think a lot of guys are afraid to get very far off of the pack trails. There are rare places where elk are unpressured and you can have success on or near pack trails but in my experience, encounters go up exponentially the farther you get from the pack trails. I believe elk get accustomed to hunters walking on and bugling from pack trails. That's where studying your maps, planning your routes to minimize daytime travel on pack trails and wise use of maps, compass and GPS and confidence in your off-trail navigation can really pay off.
I agree that Midwestern whitetail hunters will struggle if they try to hunt elk the way they hunt whitetails but I take a certain amount of exception to stereotyping Midwestern whitetail hunters. Granted, if you're a whitetail hunter who is used to walking 200 yards and climbing into a pre-set tree stand over a cornfield and you intend to expend the same amount of energy on elk, you are in for disappointment and/or rude awakening. However if you are a whitetail hunter who hunts without bait in the northwoods in low deer density areas while competing with wolves, then a lot of what you learned about finding deer may apply to finding elk. It's just on a larger scale and with more topography.
I killed my first bull on my first elk hunt in a 0-1 point Colorado public land unit by hunting hard out of the trailhead basecamp and covering as much ground as I physically could in a day. After finding good elk sign a few miles in, we packed in and set up a spike camp. The first or second evening out of the spike camp I missed a nice bull and I killed one the next morning on about day 9 of a 2-week hunt.
Of course luck also plays a role in elk hunting success, and for some reason the harder you work the luckier you seem to be. ;^) I remember returning to work, worn out and 15 pounds lighter after a successful elk hunt and after showing the photos of my bull to my boss, he just said "you are so damn lucky!"
Well, that's my 2-cents for what it's worth...
I was once told by a very successful elk hunter to hunt the flat benches on steep mountains and when hunting the flats spend more time hunting the steep holes. Seems real simple but I found it to be so true. I started concentrating on hunting areas where Elk like to spend the majority of their time and my kill rate went way up. Also find out what Elk like to eat in the areas you hunt and they will be close by. One spot in Utah I hunt elk in has a lot of bigger more mature oak and when the Acorns get ripe the Elk flock to the area. I once put an arrow through a nice 5 point while he was busy standing on his hind legs plucking the nuts off the higher branches!
That reminds me. We found a lot plants like these right at treeline. But very few with the top left on them. Is this something the elk were eating, or would it have been the mule deer. We were hunting the first week of archery and the ones we found that were ate off didn't seem to be freshly eaten. Guessing a week or two. Is this something we need to hunt around?
That reminds me. We found a lot plants like these right at treeline. But very few with the top left on them. Is this something the elk were eating, or would it have been the mule deer. We were hunting the first week of archery and the ones we found that were ate off didn't seem to be freshly eaten. Guessing a week or two. Is this something we need to hunt around?
I killed around 36 elk with the bow, all but 2 in CO. I liked to hunt them silently, no bugles or even cow talk in the later years. I’d try to ambush them (mobile ambush) between feeding and bedding areas in the morning when the thermals were still steady. I stayed out of bedding areas during the day. I did water hole a couple of big bulls on evening hunts up in the NW corner of CO. I called in a few and shot them too but spooked more elk than I called.
Learn where your elk feed and bed. Don’t let them wind you. Learn how thermals work and use them to your advantage.
Good luck and enjoy your elk meat. It is the best.
You have a lot of good advice above from some of the best elk bow hunters I know of.
I have hunted elk in a lot of different states on public land and seem to always get into elk.
I don't typically even think about hunting water or food sources. I keep moving and glassing to locate elk, then figure out how to get to them. Elk tend to feed out in the open and will be visible early in the morning and late in the evening. I use 10's, 15x56's and a spotting scope on a tripod and use my glass to save my @ss! I prefer to find elk within striking distance in the morning, watch where they go into the trees and then move in to hunt them through the day. Many times, they will travel quite a ways in the timber - much further than you would expect. They like to bed in thicker timber with good shade where it is cooler on flat benches. Most of my bulls have been shot between 11:00 and 4:00.
They don't all live in the trees.......and by that i mean don't be in as big of hurry to get up in the woods if you know what i mean.........quite a few elk live in desert type country;)
We could more easily diagnose what you're doing wrong with a little info rather than telling you how we do it. So many different strategies for killing elk. Not everyone is cut out for using all of them
KsRancher, unless you actually saw the elk eating them, I would guess it was just as easily the bears eating them. I don't know what those are called, but I did see a mule deer doe eat the top off of one once, but there were several more right next to them and she didn't eat anymore, instead, went back to digging in pine litter for young sprouts.
I wouldn't know......sob.......LOL
Love the thread title by the way.....chortle......
Using the definition given for success (killing an elk) I would go with a properly set tree stand, where several actively used trails come together. Water holes in fairly dry country are excellent. You don't need to work hard at hunting. Just be persistent. Be careful that you are not looking at a spot that got hit once and may not get used again for weeks. If you are going to be an Elknut, be a smart one. Going around with a grunt tube and diaphragm does not necessarily make you the Pied Piper of elk. Run and gun hunting with a bugle is not a universal ticket to "success". 90% of the archery elk hunters are still going home with no elk. Match your tools and techniques to your hunting area. I have found tree stand hunting works in a lot of the elk country, but you need to find the right spots.
KsRancher, I hope you are soaking all this in. You are getting advise from some of the best elk killers on the planet. The one thing I've noticed about successful killers of any species is they all have their own style of hunting that they've developed over many years of hunting.
being in elk is "the key factor" i have never killed an elk when i was not in them.
I would offer a slightly different take on this paradox. yes all the aforementioned factors are true,you need to be in shape hunt where elk are etc.I have a lot of elk experience and success. I have taken bull elk on public land the past nine years in a row, and have taken 23 bulls with a bow. For me it was learning how to deal with the chances I had, that helped me turn "another close encounter" to an elk to pack out. I was lucky to start hunting elk hunting as a colo resident in the 80s. I did not harvest a bull the first three years of chasing elk ,despite getting into bulls almost every weekend. I would say two things make a BIG difference in elk hunting success. The first is Learning to stay calm and shoot well under pressure . You can improve this skill by getting serious about competitive archery.I think experience in Both 3 d and Indoor NFAA type shooting are necessary to develop consistent form under pressure. The second is learning how to deal with the opportunities you get. Knowing when to move aggressive up to get a shot, or when to wait . same with knowing When to draw and when to remain motionless. This is for me, what only experience in these situations has taught me. For to long I was to tentative in my response to close encounters. And this past year I think I was again to tentative when close to bugling bulls, and failed to get a shot on a couple of big bulls because I did not move into position to get the shot when I should have.So I took home a young good eating bull on the last day for which my wife was especially pleased. I am lucky to be a NM resident. and able to buy LO tags, or go to unlimited colo areas when I dont draw here at home. Good luck to all ...
Ksrancher, I'll bet you & your Dad have had a great time together hunting those elusive elk, sure it would be awesome to eventually have some meat on the ground for all your hard work but don't forget to stop & smell the roses along the way, enjoy your times together bud, putting down elk together is only a matter of time! Stay positive!
Many here have shared their preferred ways in hunting elk, keep in mind it took several years for these hunters to find their 'strengths' & then they applied more focus on what they enjoyed doing most & perfected it! What they enjoy or have a 'strength' in may not be what you enjoy! It will take you some time to find what you're passionate about, when you do you will focus heavily on that method as we all have.
For instance, I've taken elk Spot & Stalk, Stand & Ground Blinds, Ambush at Water Sources, Calling, etc. All have their place, for myself Calling trumps all of them. Even though I have experience in them; Calling stands out in a huge way for me, it's my preferred method so I've attributed the majority of my hunting time dedicated to it! It doesn't mean it will be yours but it could be! The more time you spend in the elkwoods you will start to carve your niche just as most of us have, you will see!
In the meantime I would like to share two methods for you to consider that can lead you towards success this year, you want to keep things simple & have goals that are achievable yet produce results, this will build your confidence that you can do it! Don't concern yourself with what we do, focus on methods & when to use them that will increase your odds. In time as you see results from these two methods you can broaden your skills to other avenues that may interest you, but you do not want too much on your plate until your confidence is built, you need a good foundation to build on!
Simple Calling Setups! For calling I would suggest two types of setups! Either can be productive no matter the Sept dates you are hunting as long as you are hunting timber or some type of cover that can offer a similar setup as in this Sequence. Do your best to seek out areas with few to no hunters, there are places a 1/2 mile from a road or trail that can be found, no need to exceed 2 GPS miles at anytime.
Trolling For Elk # 1 - This refers to not knowing where the elk are! This is best carried out using the Cold Calling Sequence! Find fresh sign such as lots of rubs in one area or tracks, scat if possible, these can be good places to start . Once setup, rustle branches/brush simulating natural elk movement along with your calling. At times because of being unfamiliar with the country fresh sign isn't the easiest to stumble upon for new elk hunters so by Trolling this implies ones to do this calling setup for 30-45 minutes in one spot, if nothing shows up then move approximately a 1/2 mile and repeat. Keep doing these setups until you find elk! Your sounds can travel upwards to a 1/2 mile, you will eventually have elk come to check you out so be very watchful for them to slip in silent! This Trolling is best utilized the first two and a half hours of daylight near meadows, parks, benches or where sound can travel! After that time consider the Bedding Area Tactic below!
Calling Near Bedding Areas! # 2 - After 9:30 a.m. elk are in or very near their bedding area, this is their destination for the rest of the day. However they can get up early afternoon to stretch, feed, water and relocate as needed but generally remain nearby. Take advantage of the 9:30 a.m. to early afternoon time to hunt and call from the perimeter of the bedding area before they get up early afternoon. No need to get inside of it. Watch the wind carefully as it can become unpredictable, seek out setup spots that wind is in your favor, flat ground is generally not suitable at this time. (if it cannot be done back out and try another time of day or another day all together!) -- Once it's determined all is OK and you're setup you will want to incorporate the Creative Cow Calling Sequence! Be prepared to sit there for several hours using this technique. This is a very deadly technique! Key to these setups is that they are are easily imitated & you have the elk coming to you! Good setups will produce close encounters!
If elk are spotted as in your original post and they move into good cover/timber to bed then get within earshot to use one of the above Sequences & of course setup with the wind in your favor! Between these two setups you will have close encounters & shot opportunities, be prepared to have a blast! (grin)
If unsure of these methods, let me know & I'll be happy to share them with you! Good Luck!
Getting started with Paul's (Elknut) stuff can't be understated. Cut my learning curve way way down and killed my second hunt and first after getting the PlayBook! Since then I've had opportunities every year and killed in most years with a 70% rate. I should mention I'm an equal opportunity killer so cows aren't safe. I've also been fortunate enough to have a few great mentors. And from what I've learned from them and Paul has reaped benefits. I'll also mention that no 2 hunters are alike and over time, I've developed my own hybrid style that's been very good to me. I had a guy on A/T (Stickstalker) tell me to keep putting myself in position and get used to the process of killing. Don't be afraid to blow it, because with each opportunity, you gain knowledge and experience. As a solo hunter mostly, it's been a helluva ride!
Elknut/Paul, assuming a hunter has limited calling skills. What calls would you focus on for these two setups with a Cold Calling Sequence or a Creative Cow Calling Sequence. When I say limited calling skills what would be the minimum type/number of calls to do in each Sequence for it to be effective? I know all these calls can be found on your awesome app, a guy just can't learn them all at once.
With all elk hunting luck is always a factor, and even the most experienced hunter can make a mistake. Still; the experienced elk killer goes into the hunt with a totally different mind set that the person that has had little or no success. The continuously successful hunter knows what works, and what to do to make things work out for them. They pretty much know the odds they are dealing with. If it does not work this time, they move on, but they are not second guessing what they should have done. They have played the game many times and have things settled in their mind. I have gone home empty handed a few times, but I am not trying to reinvent myself as an elk hunter over the winter. The successful elk hunters here are not reinventing themselves either. They just buy another tag and go hunting again. I think real success is not getting one elk or an elk every once in a while. It is getting elk on a regular basis being confident you can get-er-done on the next hunt too.
If you can't be on the ground scouting a lot in the preseason make your game plan with topos and Google earth. When you get boots on the ground be efficient at spot checking the most likely travel routes. Elk leave a lot of sign. If you don't find fresh sign keep moving till you do find it. If the terrain is glassable use your binos to save your feet. Again , be efficient. Get a good vantage point and be there before light. Do not count on elk being vocal. Way too many TV shows make it seem like elk are bugling all the time . Maybe on private and landlocked or gated public land , but pressured public land bulls are good at being sneaky. Be mobile and don't settle into an area until you know the elk are using it at present. Last thing I will say is that a good hunter will beat a great caller every time. Wishing you much success on your next hunt. So much good info in this thread ! Have enjoyed it !!
Once you have found elk and gotten in close, slow way down and use the tactics that Elknut outlined above.
Paul has some great systems for conversing with elk and it would be worth while to contact him to get those resources! Then, you will need to get out and get amongst 'em:)
Dang guys! This turned out way better than I thought. A lot of very useful information. I sent the link to this thread to my dad, so he will be getting all of it first hand. Thanks to everyone!
"Once you have found elk and gotten in close, slow way down and use the tactics that Elknut outlined above." I am sorry, but that is not true in many areas. I know of people trying to hunt the Elknut way in different areas, and having zero success. As with anything else, calling is a tool. Spot and stalk hunting and ambushing work better in many areas. I have watched elk run from some excellent location bugles, because they had learned to associate calling with hunters. Someone above wrote that "a good hunter will beat a great caller every time." I agree. Many people think they are good hunters with no significant evidence to back it up. Ten years experience is not sufficient to make the case you know elk hunting. If I were to advise people, the recommendation would be to learn elk and elk hunting before you ever pick up a bugle. This may sound radicle, but if you need an app on your I-phone about calling elk, or how to hunt them; you are no skilled elk hunter.
I need a projection speaker for my calling app....jus' sayin'.
As mentioned above.... time. A guy can always get lucky in a few days, but 2 solid weeks will up your chances exponentially. Be willing to out work everyone else. It can be an exhausting grind day after day for 2 weeks, but you can sleep when you're dead. Be willing to go the extra mile, literally and figuratively.
Also I can really second Dave K's advice. You have to be able to finish. One year I blew 3 chances on great bulls in a 5 day stretch. It taught me some valuable lessons. Elk are big and one would think they would be much harder to miss than a whitetail. The trouble is you are physically exhausted, you are often mentally drained, you are on a limited time frame (as opposed to hunting deer for 3 months straight), and there is usually some decent financial expense on the line. All that adds up to extra pressure to make the shot, and often causes a guy to rush the shot. When you are in a treestand you often have time to stop the deer, settle your pin, and execute the shot. It may be rushed at times, but in a very different way than when you're on an elk. I have found I usually have more time than I think I do on elk.
If you're from Kansas you are probably used to hunting whitetails, and know how little movement it takes to get busted. Not so with elk. It is actually incredible how much movement I have gotten away with at times.
All in all I would say time, effort, and the ability to finish are the 3 factors I would focus on. The elk are there. Once you find them you can often expect to find them in the same general area year after year. They are using that place for a reason. Until you kill one it can seem like winning the lottery, but it's not. They really are not exceptionally difficult to kill once you get it figured out.
I hope to read an awesome success thread about your hunt this time next year!
I live in West Virginia and go to Colorado every year. My best recommendation would be to hunt the same place every year out west. Get used to the land if you are not a local resident. Hunting the same location year after year will let you become familiar of the elk movement and give you pertinant information how to set up for them. It will help your chances. Every year I plan on going to a new location to expand my hunting area but rely on my old spots to see my elk. I use Google Maps to do my scouting through the off season. I hope this helps.
Mike, the needed sounds for both Sequences are nearly the same! With the Cold Calling Sequence you Troll with no more than 45 minutes per setup & adding a random short bugle & raking is what I generally use. The Creative Calling Sequence is one we stay with for as long as possible. (wind direction is a big factor here) Both Sequences we use Social mews, Excited mews, Soft Contact buzzes and Calf chirps. The more the caller understands the message he's sending with each sound the easier to use them in a respectable order! These 4 sounds can be learned & imitated in no time once you can perform a simple cow mew!
Treeline, thanks, you've obviously been around the block, thank you!
Jordan, that would be illegal in most states! (grin)
Deerslayer, you make some great points! KS rancher & his dad are not at the level to handle many of those thoughts! They do not want to over think things, at present they need to focus on good setups & simple calling strategies! As their confidence rises they can entertain the next levels! Right now we need to help them get their sea-legs under them!
I will add, most hunters do not have issues finding elk, it's what to do with them once found? Those with years of elk hunting experience have a good idea, those without that experience are still in limbo. These Sequences can aid them to get over the first hurdle! Learning how to elk hunt on your own is a journey!
Knowledge and experience with in my unit of choice.
Over the years I have my Fav unit (s) in Wyoming, Az., Nv, Idaho and my home state Utah. I haven't gone back to my Fav in Colo for a few years but I share 'intel' on them with other fellow bow-siters.
You can get knowledge and experience also by hunting/drawing another species tag with in the unit/area that you bow hunt elk.
Chasing muleys will give you a lot of experience and knowledge for when you draw the elk tag in draw states.
Good luck, Robb
"knowing" a unit helps but not the end all be all. Knowing elk though is huge. But it is a life long education ;) case and point, I've hunted as many units as tags I've gotten. The elk are doing the same thing in one unit as they are the next in any given year. You still have to find them ;)
Agreed on a lot of great advice from some of the best above.
I didn't read all of the replies, so maybe it was mentioned. Don't over-complicate things. They're just animals. They want to eat, sleep, drink, and screw. find them and kill one.
Trying to sit here and think exactly why I've been successful myself over the years ? I guess Id disagree with some here and say that time isn't so important. I live in Colorado and I'm usually hunting within a couple hours from home so that makes a difference I know but I rarely take more than a few days off and usually either kill an elk or I get into them. I think knowing an area and frequent elk whereabouts are more important than time. Maybe ? I'm not the best caller or the best shot either probably but I do feel like I'm good at doing what needs to be done to make the kill. Yes, I've called elk in and killed them but more often Id say I've spotted them and got in front of them, stalked in close being quiet, or watched their pattern and put myself in a position to kill them the next day. You should be seeing elk regularly or hearing them. If you aren't then you need to move, sometimes a drainage or two away, sometimes miles away, maybe even a different unit ? Being where they are, or where they're going to be at first and last light when they're moving is also key. Sometimes this means walking for quite awhile in the dark. Persistence is more important to me than anything. Its easy to sleep in and take it easy a day or two. I never take it easy and never give up until its dark on the last day. All these were learned from years of experience and lots of TIME ! lol
Lots of good info here. Many hunters have found ways to be successful. There's more than one way. My advice would be find a way that works for you. If you're not being successful do something different.
For me, I attribute my success to two things. One, I've hunted the same unit 30 years. I know the country and I KNOW ELK ARE THERE. Two, I started killing elk when I stopped talking to them. I can call but rarely do... My method is simple, cover ground until I hear bugles and then get on them. Aggressive stealth mode. I let them bugle ME in. I don't want them to know I'm there. I average a shot every 5-6 encounters.
Here's another option you could try.
My hunting style is a bit different than most on here. I can't hear worth a damn - especially that decibel level that is needed to hear a bugle or cow call - so "runn'n-N-gunn'n" doesn't work for me.
I have had MANY chances over the years and most of what I do is (after much Google Earth and then boot leather) find wallows and/or wet feeding areas that are adjacent to north face bedding areas. Then follow them back into the timber on the good access trails to where I normally find other trails crossing or joining these, what I call, feeder trails.
This is where I set up and almost every year I get close to closing the deal. My opportunities are about 90%, and success over the past 8 or 9 years has been right at 50% - i.e. taken an elk every other year. My success would be MUCH higher, but I suffer from Elk Fever, but that's another story/thread .... LOL.
'Many good options above - enough to fill a playbook. We've tried most & succeeded with many. Rather than repeat much of the above - a summary might be "Think like an elk, act like an elk, sound like an elk, smell like an elk, adapt like an elk. " Most of these points have already been pretty well addressed.
This is an excellent thread for those of us who have no or little elk hunting knowledge,,thanks for all of your contributions,,,and help ..its not so simple living on the east coast,,,maps,all of the Google earth in your world won't tell us a inkling of what this thread says,,,personally ill use every bit of help to make for a successful hunt....
TLS, GE can be very deceiving as well. I like to go to the terrain (topo) and jump back and forth to satellite view. It just seems easier to spot drainages this way. I like knowing where headwaters are and how the ridges and benches run. The topo's help identify this kind of stuff whereas the satellite view let's me see the vegetation and openings.
Where else can you find this kind of help and knowledge...Amazing!
There is a true wealth of information in this thread. From my perspective as an out of stater I do agree that time is a key that is necessary for all of the other suggestions to work. Obviously finding elk is critical, and that takes time. Multiple encounters gives experience on how to deal with them. When to move, calling effectively, how to set up - it all takes multiple encounters to really learn how to do it and what works for a given situation. And again, it takes time to have multiple encounters.
In my early years I and most of the people I knew from the Midwest would take a weeks worth of vacation for an out of state trip. Maybe add an extra day or two, but that was it. Out of a ten day trip for a midwesterner you can figure two days of driving and getting camp set up. Another two days to tear down and get home. Now you're down to 6 days of hunting. It always seemed like it would take at least 3-4 days just to learn the lay of the land and hopefully stumble across some elk. By the time you think you figure something out you're down to a day or two to make something happen. Add in any bad weather during the trip and it really is tough. Disappointed, your group decides to try a new spot next year, and the process repeats itself.
You really need to give yourself enough time to learn an area and still have enough time left to actually hunt the animals once they are found. Now, I much prefer to get to an area at least a couple of days before the season starts just to get a jump start on the process. Learning and hunting the same area year after year can really help, but even then things can change somewhat and it might take a few days of searching.
Mosssyhorn: "10% of hunters killing 90% of elk killed... I’ve heard this before. But is this even a real statistic? Does that even compute???"
10% is to high if you are talking specifically about archery elk hunting,(this is bowsite) and lower again if you only include DIY, public land hunters, and lower still if you are talking about specifically Bulls. I would say it is more like 95% of the Bulls are killed by 5% or less of the hunters.
For the OP: I would say the number one thing that kills Elk on public land, DIY is a relentless and driven mental approach, being very adaptive and multi dimensional. Not getting hung up on one single minded approach to killing elk. In order for the above tactics to be applied at a high level you must have TIME on the ground, with the Elk grinding out YOUR rhythm, and YOUR process. Once it clicks, it will grow if you are open minded enough to let it. PM if you have specific questions.
If you want to be good at something you practice. If you want to be great at something you become obsessed! Lots of guys I know who are excellent hunters revolve their lives around hunting and sacrifice things. I say time and mindset are huge for being good at hunting any species. And being proficient with your equipment. Can’t kill em if you get a golden opportunity and miss em. Make it a year round commitment like lots of these guys and hang with guys who are successful and I think you’ll see a different light. Guys get obsessed and elk hunting becomes 365/24/7. It’s not just a September hobby for them. There is a lot more that goes into success than jus punching a tag it’s a year round process to be consistent. Awesome advice on here from many highly respected guys.
Have killed a few with my bow, but still consider myself hunter vs killer.....my experience in otc Colorado is elk have certain pockets they like (sometimes little to no rhyme or reason i.e. no water, poor feed etc..). The more pockets you have, the better. Over a week, the elk will show up in a given pocket. ...
I would re read the post by Cheesehead Mike and commit that to memory.
In my limited experience but by observing another great elk hunter, finding them is number one. Knowing your area by scouting Google Earth and topo maps and where elk are likely to be gives you a place to start. Then covering ground relentlessly, leaving early and being persistent day after day is essential. Capitalizing on the often limited opportunities is key as well but you have to get one first. Best of luck, it's some of the toughest hunting in the lower 48. Dave