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Elk senses compared to WT???
I'm curious as to what you seasoned elk and WT hunters think? For those of you have hunted both,how do compare the keeness of sight,smell,and hearing from one to the other?? Thx
I think they're equivalent. How they react to a given sense at any given time may differ
They may have similar senses, but elk are a lot easier to get close to. Being more of a herd animal, they are used to having things moving around them and make a lot of noise themselves. You can work the wind if you are on foot and paying attention for elk and they don't seem to be bothered that much by a little noise here and there.
They will bust you a long way off if you move in the open, but so will whitetails.
It is almost impossible to sneak up on elk in the wide open, even if they are bedded because there are usually in a group and their heads are up pretty high and looking around. It is easier to stalk up on whitetails or mule deer in the open country because they will bed in areas where they have limited lines of sight.
IMO, there senses are very comparable. If either species smells human, game over. That said, you can "get away" with more on the hearing and sight fronts with elk....especially the hearing. We're talking about a herd animal that is used to hearing noise and seeing movement around them on a regular basis. Just my two cents...
Wind in your favor, you are virtually invisible to any animal. The amount of pressure from any activity will put them on edge as well, more so than normal.
They see you move, and they will key in on you no matter what until they determine what kind of threat you may be. If other elk are in the area, and they know it, you can get away with some noise. Regardless though, humans have a distinct pattern, or cadence, to their footfalls that are different from four legged animals.
Their senses are equivalent, or maybe the Elk has slightly better sense of smell, but it's their reactions to those senses that are vastly different...
Any deeper input elkman ?
Senses are very similar but pressure and terrain does not always give you a clear picture. Walking in leaves versus western terrain allows for biased comparisons. Someone that hunts for both where pressure and terrain could provide a much better perspective on the question. In my experience terrain and pressure has been completely different so I favor the whitetail’s senses. I know that this is somew uninformed.
I never drew a tag for elk when I live in New Mexico but I played around with them many times. It was much easier for me to get close to them than white tails. (They do make a lot of noise when walking around.) I think they would be more like turkey hunting. You call to them all the time and have to worry about all them eyes. You don't do that with white tails.
It is possible to shoot an elk from the ground by stalking but almost impossible to stalk a Whitetail. The main reason is the Whitetail lives “amongst us” and knows us much better than an elk does.
I think their senses are equal but their reaction patterns are vastly different.
Whitetails will put up with human scent from a distance. They have a smaller safety zone than elk. Deer live around humans everyday. Elk usually live in areas with less human activity. If the wind is right you can sneak in on elk much easier than whitetails. Hunting pressure plays a big role for both elk and deer. If they are wired good luck! Do not foul yourself into thinking elk are big slow lumbering animals. They are amazing athletes and will surprise whitetail hunters on just how fast and agile they are. Plus they melt into the mountains just like a whitetail disappears into thin air!
Most people hunt elk by tromping thru the woods. A lot. Combine that with indiscriminant bugling and cow calling that is obviously not elk. Heck, if I can tell its not an elk making all that noise, pretty sure the elk know it from a mile away. It blows me away sometimes watching someone marching blindly through the woods blowing out bedding areas, feeding areas, etc. and never even see an elk, much less get a shot.
One thing very different about elk versus whitetails is the distance they will travel when bumped. They may move several miles before they settle down again and that particular group may not use the area that they were bumped out of.
Typically, you will find more elk and calmer elk where the people are not - away from other hunters, mountain bikers, atvs, granola crunchers, dogs, etc. You would be surprised at some of the places we have gotten into elk! Have had a few that we were worried would run out into passing traffic after we shot them.
I prefer to use my optics. A lot. Saves a lot of miles of useless hiking in unproductive areas. The more time you can study the elk and what they are doing from a distance that they don't know you are there, the better. Have patience and wait till they move in a direction that will allow you to move yourself closer so that you can work the herd to your advantage and get shot.
I have used other hunters to our advantage a number of times - watch how they approach a herd of elk, blow them out and see where the elk hole up. Most of the time, the hunters that blew the elk out turn around and head back to the truck after screwing it up. Loop around, get the wind right and work into the timber where you see the elk hole up.
Do not over call! From what I have seen, about 95% to 98% of elk hunters would be much better off leaving those fancy calls on the shelves. If you have not been around elk a lot to get a feel for what their vocalizations mean and what you need to do in different situations, you are most likely blowing elk out of your hunting area by tooting your horn to let them know you are there.
For you eastern whitetail hunters (and a bunch of western hunters, too) - tree stands will work very well. Elk are very susceptible to hunting from treestands and don't seem to look up very often. If you slip into an area that the elk are using regularly and set a treestand, you would be surprised. Wallows can be good, but good trails near bedding areas may be better. Although I have never shot an elk out of a treestand, I have set up stands for guys that couldn't walk that far and have several buddies that kill elk every year out of stands.
I think a WT's hearing sense is better than an elk
not as much an expert as many on here but i have hunted elk for ten years or so and what i have noticed is man scent in the air the elk will pick up as good or better as any animal and spook. the difference between elk and whitetails is scent on the ground or on grass or trees etc the elk seem not to care while a whitetail will react to ground scent.
Then just like whitetails sometimes they just do not act with caution. Stupid even. Rut will do that sometimes. This one walked right in looking for us and then once spooked whirled and then stopped broadside at 35 yards. My son made sure it was the last mistake he made.
Great pic Joe ,,,I hear ya
Every year I hope to find a "stupid one"! LOL
Elk are easier to kill.... once you find them. The terrain they live in plays a big role in their survival. A whitetail deer can survive living in your neighborhood! In my opinion a mature buck is the most difficult animal to outsmart. If he knows you are onto him good luck!
Charlie, IMO, much of the reason whitetails are perceived to be difficult to "stalk" is because most whitetail hunters have never developed stalking skills. The old timers used to kill whitetails on the ground regularly. Here in the West we learn to stalk and hunt open country at an early age, and kill whitetails on the ground.
Like Elkman said, elk react differently. Noise doesn't bother them much because they live with noise. But a strong whiff may send them a couple miles, across sagebrush and highways. They may never be seen again during the season.
Elk are also used to big movement because antlers are large, bodies are large, and sometimes hunters can get away with some movement if the elk has been fooled and expects to see another elk. But elk that don't expect to see movement and catch a hunter moving will often bust and run into the next county. Whitetails don't leave their small home range, maybe dive in to the first patch of cover and hunker down. But as we all know, a mature whitetail buck will quickly change his pattern and behavior, where elk just carry on as always, though maybe four miles away.
Smell I think is equal, but sometimes whitetails will put up with human scent. Especially from a distance. Plus if you are midwestern flatlander used to steady wind directions with whitetails, you may not realize just how fickle wind currents and terrain can be. You get in the hills and it's amazing what wind currents can do.
Seems to me elk vision may be worse, or they are willing to put up with more movement when it comes to stalking. It is totally different how open it is though. I hunt big woods whitetails in PA and really spotting/stalking/still hunting isn't hardly an option if you actually want to kill something, just due to how much thicker the woods are. It's night and day. The name of the game when it comes to stalking animals is see the animal before it sees you. You accomplish that, you have a chance. That aspect is just far easier with elk due to the terrain being more open, you can see longer distances.
I'll have to agree with Jaq, spot and stalk whitetail is not as difficult for some western hunters who learned to hunt game that way. I've shot north of 50 whitetails and exactly 6 from tree stands. I've spent quite a bit of time with them at ground level.
That said, I believe a whitetails vision and hearing is much more acute than elk, as well as their immediate reaction. Elk will tolerate much more movement and sound than the whitetails I've hunted. As far as the nose, the reaction of elk seems more significant than whitetails.
I hunt both. Shot a lot of whitetails still hunting. Generally, I'd say whitetails are more difficult to get close to. The smaller size and how they blend in a little better in the bush is part of it. And they are more wary, with keen hearing, vision and sense of smell. The "social" or herd sense of elk can work against them at times. I've certainly blown it on my share of elk due to their wariness and keen senses as well, or my careless stumbling around! Two different critters both well adapted to survival and fun to hunt. I do find myself in a bit different hunting mode for each.
As stated previously, elk may move a mile or several when bothered, while a whitetail tends to live where it lives even when bothered but go nocturnal so much so it seems they disappeared. Trail cameras prove that. I hunt northern Minnesota where the bush is extensive and thick and deer not plentiful as other areas of the State. But fun!!
I agree with what's above . Elk are much easier to get close to. White tails are much more high strung . Elk make so much noise when they are relaxed that it covers up any noise you make. Elk can smell very very well. Maybe better than a whitetail.
Excellent beta gentleman...I appreciate every word.I get an elk on the heels of you all..Thanks
When I first started hunting elk, an old timer told me..elk will hear you three times, see you twice but only smell you once.. this had proven true more than once for me.. that's why when planning a stalk, I always let the wind tell me where to go...
Agree with whats been said. The BIG difference I've noticed is the ground scent.
When I first began elk hunting (1993) I always wore tall rubber boots sprayed with scent shield, being VERY careful to keep them as scent free as possible, for walking around, and always stepping in fresh elk droppings at every opportunity. (I will say, walking around in the mountains in rubber boots REALLY, REALLY, sucked)
After watching shows and looking at hero shots, I noticed that almost everyone was just wearing leather boots (or at least not rubber boots) or tennis shoes, etc...
In the world of whitetails if they crossed where you walked in leather boots - 99% of the time they would bust out. On the contrary, I've watched elk walk down the same trail as me when I was wearing leather boots and not spook in the least.
Whitetails seem to have the ability to pick you out potentially visually. Never had that happen with an elk. I think visually WT's may have the edge. One could also attest that to a WT living in a small area and knowing what everything is supposed to look like and now there is something new, where elk use a much larger territory, but I "feel" like WT have better vision.
We are hunting elk in the rut...you can't compare a September whitetail to a September elk.
A better comparison might be a 10 year old cow...to an old wily whitetail. I've seen some smart cows that could navigate their way out of danger.
I think the edge goes to a wily old whitetail. They just seem to be more in tune with their surroundings than elk.
Pressure has a lot to do with it. I've hunted and shot mature whitetails that walked right up the same trail I walked in on, on public land no less, but the deer were not hunted that hard. I've also hunted elk on highly pressured OTC units and had a heck of a time even finding elk and the ones we saw were as cagy as any whitetail I've ever seen. I was told that you can get away with noise and some movement with elk, but if I ever go again, I will still try to minimize both.