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I drew a KY archery cow tag this year and wanted to ask a few questions about what cow elk might be doing in mid October through the end of the year. My tag is valid from October 13- the end of December. I have talked to a handful of guys with elk experience in KY and they tell me that this is typically a tough tag to fill because they say that once the elk rut they tend to lay low until December.
Basically...if you don't kill one within the first few days of season then don't waste you time until December. I'm not comfortable with that personally as I know the elk are somewhere. Just sitting on this tag for a month would kill me. I have to lenty of public Access (that is going to be marginal for my tag), 2 small pieces of private to hunt and a much larger tract of almost 9k acres that is a voucher area. Voucher areas are private property that is entered into a program with KDFWR that allows the property owner to gain elk tags for allowing people to hunt. There are different points assigned for a bull or cow killed or whatever and after they get so many points they get a tag. I know this voucher area is a good area but I am not sure about archery cow season. Most of these areas are reclaimed strip mine land and from what I understand this area is about 50-50 timber to open land.
My main question would be.....where would you look for cows to be hanging out in mid October? I assume water would still be somewhat productive but I won't know anything really until I start hunting. I do however plan to get some boots on the ground next weekend.
Don’t forget your whitie tactics for late season food. Freezing cold maybe some snow? Bingo!
Congrats on the tag!
Lay low? Like they leave and go to Tahiti? The elk are out there. I agree with you, Why would you wait? Cow elk are big grass eating herd animals. They need water, grass and a place they can relax and chew their cud. Use glass or boots on the ground to figure out where they find that in October. Pattern a herd and work your way in to them (or be where they are going and let them work their way to you). As always, wind is critical. When working your way to a herd use a cow call very sparingly so they think your noise is another elk.
I agree Aspen. I'm just telling you what I have been told. There is at least some truth to it (I agree they are definitely somewhere) as this tag typically has the lowest success rates for KY.
One thing that might be overlooked is that KY elk have developed a pretty big appetite for acorns. My friend who is a biologist for KDFWR says they were actually surprised as to how much the elk key on acorns.
I think you just answered your own question. Find the acorns and find the cows!
The reason that post rut can be tough is that most of the elk begin to herd up again. I can’t speak for Kentucky but in November for most of the West you are hunting essentially one elk in an area because they will be herded up in large groups up to several hundred animals. With that being said you will be following Charlie’s advice. Use some WT tactics, set up on food or travel routes and wait. Congrats on the tag and good luck!
My wife has had some mid Oct rifle cow tags so I get out after archery season. We chase bugles as the bulls are still bugling and like others above said, they are herded up. If we set up it will be in transition areas between water/bedding or bedding/feeding. Through experience in my hunting areas, I have a few transition areas that produce well. I have area that looks like the rest of the forest however I have had many elk pass within a 20 yard "lane" year after year. Don't know why but either where there coming from or where they are heading is contributing to elk passing through this small patch consistently. Good luck to you.
Any time hunting is tough I keep telling myself one thing..... elk eat about 20 pounds of food daily. They have to eat.
There is more than one reason why that is the easiest elk tag to draw in KY......
I give....what are the other reasons?
Success ratios are poor and it is the least "desirable" tag of the 4 options that you have to pick from when you apply. I think it would be a fun hunt but it is a tough hunt for the reasons listed above plus it appears as if our elk herd may not be as strong as once thought. Why else is the commission reducing the number of tags available? I've also heard that lot of the cow tag holders don't even hunt, I guess because they wanted a bull tag???? Seems stupid to me as you have to apply for the tag, it's not like you get that as a consolation prize. Anyway, I hope you have a great hunt! FWIW, I have been applying as a resident for the Bull tags since inception and have never been drawn,,, maybe some day! Let us know how your hunt goes.
I assumed that was what you meant but wasn't sure. I suspect that many people aren't gung ho about cow hunting too, which I think is silly, but it is what it is. I'll go at it hard and hope to fill my tag. I will focus on this tag solely this fall, other than about 3 weeks for whitetails. It will be fun regardless.
Kentucky is different than out here in the west, but the elk are still elk and will do what elk do.
Find where the food sources and figure out their travel routine in and out of the food source.
Set up with the wind in your favor in the cover. It is really tough to sneak up on them in the wide open.
You can use a tree stand or ground blind if you’re more comfortable hunting that way. I prefer mobility for elk hunting so I can make adjustments on the fly to get the right position.
Elk are not fairies to vanish in thin air. Use Google Earth and elk migration maps/layers, if available for KY, to narrow down their travel corridors for October thru December.
Bowfreak, it's like having a Mule Deer tag in your pocket that's good for 1 Buck or Doe. After putting down 2-4 Doe's in as many years to gain some experience it seems most raise the bar & now prefer Bucks, it's the same with elk in most areas for guys who've been elk hunting for many years.
Might cost some time and money, but try a few game cameras. Also, if the elk have used certain areas in the past you should expect them to do so again.
As stated earlier, they still bugle a lot in October, especially around the 10 th. Second estrous.