I draw as they're coming in, going thru or behind some cover but before they get too close. Phelps on the bro video is a good example of waiting too long. Your setup will be a big factor too. If you're standing up 2 feet from a tree, in a direct line from Elk to caller, he's gonna peg the hunter most of the time or see any movement as he comes in. The Elk you're hunting can play into it also. Heavy otc areas I've hunted, those bulls typically run. My hunt in your state this year, they tended to walk off like they were bored if things weren't right when they came in.
Drawing on elk can be considered an "Art" when all is considered-- It requires skill, nerve & timing! All 3 can come into play on nearly every drawing situation whether you're solo or tag teaming! Your best odds stem from having the elks head hidden through your draw cycle, this can mean his head is in the grass or he could be raking a tree/brush, his head is behind tree/rock, maybe he's walking in & he's went by you in range & you're waiting for his eyes to go by you giving you a quartering away shot, you can now draw or give a soft grunt & draw simultaneously, this works great with both trad bows or compounds!
The sound & draw movement will generally freeze him in his tracks allowing you the precious few seconds it will take to slip an arrow in him! In other instances the elk comes in & stops at the 5yd to 30yd range facing you & locked on to the area he heard the calling & sees nothing, this means you had a great setup! Don't blow it now, stay calm cool & collected & wait for him to turn to leave, as soon as he turns his head & body, draw instantly & give him a voice grunt or do it with a mouth reed that's already in your mouth. This single note is deadly, it freezes them in their tracks as they turn back to see this elk they must not have seen at first! This is our # 1 sound & situation that arises so frequently.
It's nice to also be able to draw on incoming elk, as you hear or see them do not draw to early, you could be holding way longer than expected & thus having to let down. It can ruin the whole encounter if this happens, let elk get closer as long as they still have to travel through cover on their way in or if you can tell they're rushing in fast then that too must be taken into consideration! The closer the elk the tougher to draw on them especially when solo, you look for that little crease by evaluating his movement & direction where your best odds are to draw!
We have been in these situations many times over the years! This has been done in heavy cover, in front of cover, next to cover & with myself caught right out in the open, as open as a Walmart parking lot! We've taken several bulls in that situation, we do not move a muscle until the Timing is right to draw, aim, and fire!!! When caught in the open be patient, elk will look at you & try to figure out what you are but generally will tolerate you there as long as you do not move!!!! As soon as they let their guard down for that one instant it's time to ACT!!! I've drawn on bulls where I've had them alone as well as have their cows 10yd-15yd from me for several minutes with the wind in my favor just waiting for the bull to turn or anything where I could draw without him seeing the motion. The cows would look up quickly as you do draw but don't run off as quickly as you may think, by then the arrow is gone!! I've done this with both longbow & compound!
In most cases if I tried to draw while the bull was staring in our direction our odds are low he would have stayed for the draw aim & shoot! I too have found that if a bulls head is hidden as you draw & all of a sudden he looks up or moves his head that was once behind the tree to continue the smooth draw motion, you have little chance of drawing with him staring you down & you're already half cocked. If you stop, 30 seconds to a minute go by, you will be shaking like a leaf from adrenaline & muscle exhaustion! Food for thought!
When you should is not the same as when you can.
But if I'm wearing the cow elk hat and he expects to see an elk, I've had them just stand there, watch me draw, and take the arrow. Compound guys can do this with a bow-mounted Heads Up or an Ultimate Predator as well.
Typically, I see the legs coming thru timber first. If its an elk I decide Im going to shoot, I try to position myself perpendicular to the way they are coming in - to the left or right - but once again, I only move when they move.
Ive found that in most of my scenarios, I cant shoot beyond 30yds because of thick timber, so when they come into that range, thats when I draw. But I only draw when they are moving.
I look ahead for a couple shooting lanes that I can stop them in, and stop them there. If they happening to be traveling to fast and dont stop, I have another one already picked out.
If they happen to stop out at 30yds, I will see if I have a shot at that distance.
In 2015, a bull came into the 30 yds and stood there while I was at full draw facing me. I held for a couple minutes and then slowly put my bow elbow down on my knee and waited him out at full draw.
He finally moved to the right and all I had to was lift my bow, settle the pin and shoot.
Finding shooting lanes on an elk that is searching for you takes some practice. Its not something you study for, its more like a 'pop quiz' :)
I've been busted through brush/ scrub oaks/ etc. many times, but if his head is behind a tree, I can usually pull it off.
Best advice....dont get caught up in this 80 pound bow shit......65 pounds is more than plenty.........and all you guys that want to tell me you need 80 pounds to kill an elk when you hit them bad save it......get em close shoot them right and most will be dead inside 100 yards
Sorry if i derailed your thread a little....but don't believe everything you see on Youtube.
You can time things as the situation unfold. The biggest thing I've seen that busts elk out is an uncontrolled draw. My partner busted two elk last year both on crappy draws cycles. As long as your bow is up, a smooth draw back while tracking doesn't seem to get picked up. Much like swinging with an elk that is coming into your spot.
I've also noticed, if an elk is coming 90 degrees to you, and you wait and hit the draw wrong, this is when they seem to really pick you up.
This years bull was killed steps from me. In that case, there were three giant trees between him and I. I drew when he was behind the trees and when he stepped out, I frontal shot him at less than 8 steps away.
You really have to be careful when drawing when you think they're behind something when they're not in a "shootable" position i.e brush. If they pick you up, they will peg you and then it normally becomes a stand off. I see alot of elk pick people off when they think they're eye is behind the tree. It may have been, but the timing was off and he got you before you were settled in.
For best odds draw when an oncoming elk can not see you draw your bow. Be at full draw before he shows himself!
When that happens, they usually end up turning around and going back the way they came if you just try to stay still. It's too late for that. The time to be still is between when they can catch movement (which can be farther out than you'd think) and when you can release the arrow.
And this is another reason to not be overbowed. I see so many guys that have like a 3 second draw cycle as they lift their bow skyward and strain to get to anchor. You need to be able to draw quickly and smoothly if you're hunting off the ground.
In 2003 or 04, I called this bull right down a wide open draw to me. He ran right to me without stopping. As he was coming I remember thinking “he’ll stop”.
He never did and I never got to draw. He finally was 10ft away and stopped facing me.
I decided to draw and almost did it before he exploded out.
The whole ordeal took less than 15 seconds.
Experience is the best teacher.
This is a good discussion with lots of good suggestions by most & should be considered as they cover most of the elk encounters new ones will be faced with.
What if you were taking a newer elk hunter out in the morning & the evening prior he asked you when to draw as a bull is approaching or what to look for before he draws or where to setup. Are you going to offer him as much instruction as possible to prep him for the 'just in case' or are you going to tell him just wait till you have more encounters & you'll figure it out on your own?
This is what this thread is about. I was in this very situation this year with a hunter that had never heard or seen an elk in his life at 49 years old. What do you think I offered him, instruction or did I skirt his sincere question? Most here would have done as I did!
The very next morning he killed his bull & thanked me a 100 fold for sharing info on when to draw & said he would have never killed him with our talk! Food for thought!