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Hello all, quick question. As a general rule I understand that elk will usually bed on eastern or south eastern facing slopes. However, during hotter than normal conditions (like you may occasionally have during archery) will they tend to bed more on western or north facing slopes to get away from the heat?
Thanks for your assistance and info
Yes I think they prefer north slopes for bedding myself.
I'm not sure where you got your general rule about elk bedding on eastern or south eastern facing slopes. Elk may bed anywhere but as rule they will normally bed on cooler, shaded north facing slopes.
Western facing slopes are not cooler, but rather western facing slopes can be very hot due to exposure to afternoon sun.
In my experience, it’s seasonal. When it’s hot during the day (archery season) they tend to use North Facing slopes because there is less direct sun exposure, making it cooler. In late fall / winter, the opposite is often true.
I think he was referring to during archery season...
For rifle hunting yes your southern faces will generally have less snow so feed is more accessible than the colder north, northeast & northwest faces where snows can stay deep & make feeding a hassle & generally relocate elk & depending on the depths it can drive them to lower elevations.
For archery elk hunting we seek out any face that has abundant older growth timber whether it's pines, firs, aspens or a combination of these that can provide the needed shade & all around cooler environment. The more desirable spots will have feed & water nearby to these bedding areas.
I know for myself I do not discount any area or face, I've found elk on every face at one time or another. I will say finding them in their bedding areas no matter where that may be has led to much of our success. Once they are there you have a captive audience & elk are much more apt to approach your calls etc.! I let my bugle do my locating & then hunt them from there! -- In a nutshell you are on the right track in your research, find those bedding areas!
For early fall I find elk bedding on north facing slopes, especially here in NM. Main reason in addition to less direct sunlight the north face typically has thick mixed conifer whereas the other slopes typically have more open ponderosa pine/less shade. If I can find a saddle where they like to move from the bedding areas to the more open feeding areas I've found something worth writting home about. As mentioned, come later seasons they might be looking for more sunlight.