Contributors to this thread:
Questions for biologist?
When you all call biologist for new areas you are researching what are questions that you all focus on? Based on research I have done, it looks like being specific is important (area, specific road numbers, drainages habitat, pressure, etc..) and not where can I kill and elk? Just looking for some feedback on do's and don'ts from elk hunting veterans. As always thanks in advance.
First off, I ask them if they have time to talk. (This bit of courtesy might set the tone for the conversation). I introduce myself then I ask them biological questions.
I ask them about wintering areas and migration routes. This leads into the conversation if the herd is resident, migratory, or "transitional or fringe" [elk hit ag fields low and then move to different country to bed. ])
Ask about winter mortality.
Ask them if they have any collared elk.
The most important question is where are the calving areas. These areas are key for an archer as these areas are likely to hold elk during the archer season. (Some states have this info publicly via GIS files, some do not)
I don't ask them about road numbers or trailheads. I save those questions for BLM/FS personel.
When you do call them, you'll probably get a voicemail. Leave a nice message asking them to call back at their convenience and you have some questions about Unit X.
Here is a tip. Have your questions written down and on your person because you dont know when they will call you back and you want to be prepared and not waste their time.
I ask bull:cow ratio; herd growing or decreasing; predators like wolves, bears, Mt. Lions on mortality, feed elk tend to like best in the area, etc.. I also ask if it is more convenient to answer an e-mail or phone call. One other thing I ask first is if they are busy can they steer me in a direction where I might find the information on line or in books.
If it is a limited entry area, one question I might ask would be have the quotas issued been trending up or down the last few years. That would suggest if the target animal population is trending up or down in that particular area. If the quota numbers are trending down, another area may offer better success odds if the quotas there are trending up.
Here is my tip. Don't call the area WILDLIFE biologist. They get tons of calls and based on experience they often give everyone that calls the same answer. They sometimes have certain areas they want to see harvested and send all the hunters to the spot. Instead call the area FORESTRY biologist. They don't ever get hunting calls, are usually hunters too and are eager to share some of their info. They are often more familiar with recent developments and actually spend more time in the field than wildlife counterparts who depend mostly on "computer models".
I always want to know if there's free-range sheep in the area. Sheep piss me off, no pun intended, cattle I can tolerate. Sheep will obliterate any sign of elk, not to mention you can't smell 100 rutting bulls over the smell of sheep piss!