Sitka Mountain Gear
elk at higher elevation in Sept.
Contributors to this thread:
bigmartbowhunter 26-May-18
Paul@thefort 26-May-18
HDE 26-May-18
elkmtngear 26-May-18
GF 26-May-18
Treeline 26-May-18
bigmartbowhunter 26-May-18
wyobullshooter 27-May-18
Cheesehead Mike 29-May-18
HDE 29-May-18
Kodiak 29-May-18
Outdoordan 29-May-18
LaGriz 29-May-18
Jaquomo 29-May-18
ElkNut1 29-May-18
WapitiBob 29-May-18
BULELK1 30-May-18
WapitiBob 30-May-18
Cheesehead Mike 30-May-18
I have always hunted elk at the 5 to 7000 foot elevation, This year I will be in Idaho base camp at 7600 feet, I have found several groups of elk in this area at 8500 to 9600 feet on google earth in July. I know elk are where you find them, but is this typical throughout Sept for elk to be at these elevations.

From: Paul@thefort
This time of year and into the summer, elk seem to follow the "green line" of new vegetation, (there preferred food), to higher elevations. Also it is cooler up there and with a lot less fly pests to content with.

Will they be up there throughout Sept?. Yea, some at and above tree line but can be force down with a heavy snow storm. As frost kills the grasses up there, the elk will migrate down some to find better food. Also hunting pressure in early Sept. will cause them to seek refuge in the timber at a lower elevation. When the rut comes in strong, all bet are off as to where they might be, as they were earlier.

From: HDE
Best way to hunt bulls in Sept is to "hunt" cows. Find out where the cows are and will be and you'll find the bugles. Depends on the area you're hunting, usually around 8,000' +/- 500 in bigger mtns.

From: elkmtngear
Typical in my normal areas, to see more elk at higher elevations, in the first week (s) of the Season.

As the rut fires up, elk seem to start to concentrate lower (around 8500 where I hunt...tops are 10,500). I'm not sure how that applies to areas with generally lower elevations, this is just my experience where I hunt.

From: GF
Totally temperature dependent. In September, the bulls, especially, are going to be as big and heavy as at any time during the year, and it takes a tremendous amount of energy for them just to keep cool. Even more so as winter coats start coming in.. I think the rule of thumb is that it takes as much energy for them to keep cool at 70° as it takes one of us to keep warm at about freezing. They’ll drop down at night, especially if water is harder to find up high, of course.

In which case it probably pays to figure out an ambush spot that puts the thermals in your favor.... though I never seemed to be quite high enough, early enough...

From: Treeline
See elk above treeline all thru archery and even thru October in Colorado. They will feed in the open and drop down into the trees to bed. Tough getting close to them above treeline.

Thank you for all your info. Bigmartbowhunter.

HTE +1. During the late spring/summer months, the majority of bulls are miles away from where I hunt, but when the rut's approaching, like clockwork they start showing up where the cows are.

As Paul points out, elk follow the snowline up from their wintering grounds. In the areas I hunt, many, if not the majority of cows remain quite a bit lower than the bigger bulls. During the spring and summer months, the only elk I'll see are cows, calves, a few spikes, and even fewer young bulls. Around the 3rd-4th week of August, the satellites and wannabe herd bulls start showing up. They'll gather up a few cows/calves and think they're King of the Hill. Around the end of the 1st week of September, the big boys start showing up and take over the harems that the little guys were so kind to start rounding up for them.

No doubt, there are elk higher up than where I hunt, but I've made my living hunting elk in the 7500-8500' range.

I think it depends partially on how high the tops are where you hunt and if there's suitable habitat up high. In some areas, 5000 - 7000 feet might be too low on the mountain but in other areas it might be a lot closer to the top.

One area I hunt, all of my hunting is above 10,000 and I killed a bull at 11,600.

From: HDE
11k? Better shape than me.

From: Kodiak
For me, killing elk low in the Aspens usually happens the first week. Then the elk start getting pushed out and up.


From: Outdoordan
I would say the top 1/3 of the mountains up. But, it depends on what kind of habitat you are hunting in. I think you are on the right track in Idaho if the peaks are at 9-10k, hunting from 7500 to 9500'. Good luck.

From: LaGriz

LaGriz's embedded Photo
San Juan NF mid elevation
LaGriz's embedded Photo
San Juan NF mid elevation
I hunted Idaho's Middle Fork with a rifle in September "97". Killed my bull late on day 1 at around 8,000'. He answered & came to a bugle in a classic approach. Like the others said he was plump and well nourished at this early time of the season.

Early 2000's: My experience in the San Juan NF I was into elk (bulls and cows) at 8500' near a water source. They had 12,000' mountains near by. The wallows I hunted were 1 1/4" miles from a main road on the east-northeast side of a 9400' peak. lots of blow downs and pretty thick with oak brush near the ridges. Elk seemed very fond of some benches just above the water where I killed a cow (muzzy) at 1:30 PM. Cover was broken here and the terrain was much more forgiving. My buddy took a cow with his bow the following year on trail descending from those same benches to the water source. They routinely came down to water from the bedding area on those side-hill benches. Two years later on a late afternoon hunt, the same friend killed a fine 330 bull not 50 yards from the location of his shot at the cow. The elk spent the majority of their time on the benches and near the water just below. The steepness, distance from the road, and the nasty cover all around this spot gave the elk some peace. We tried to have a low impact on them, and that seemed to work for the most part. This unit is OTC and gets hammered by hunters for bow and 2nd & 3rd rifle. It all when to crap when the ranch that rented us cabins was sold. With out the access from the private land, it limited the approach to the long-way-around and a potential uphill pack out. Did not fully understand how good we had it! LaGriz

From: Jaquomo
I don't pay attention to elevation because in N. CO the elk can be found anywhere between 5,000-12,000 feet. Its really more about identifying elk habitat wherever you are, then learning how best to hunt that habitat.

They don't seem to care much about temperature either. I have a photo of a herd of 150 feeding out in the foothills sagebrush in mid-afternoon in July at 6000' when the truck thermometer read 93. The nearest tree was miles away.

Find the cows and hunt them, and the bulls will come. Bulls travel many miles to where the rut happens, and often return to the same place year after year.

From: ElkNut1


From: WapitiBob

I too am on the Habitat Team for hunting elk.

Water, eats, bedding shelter and seclusion.

I have hunted elk in the sage and pj/cedars of Az. (3,000--6,000ft)to the High treeless/krumholz basins in Colo.(10,500--11,500)



From: WapitiBob
They stand in the surf on the OR coast, elevation 0.0'. I have no idea what elevation I hunt.

I've probably made the mistake of hunting too high at times...

Nice to know I should be looking lower... especially as I get a little older...

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