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Treestands on wallows
For 2020, I believe I'll be spending a considerable amount of time sitting a traditionally good wallow for the first week of September in WY. It is located about 10-15 yards inside a meadow in a relatively flat area. I have never hunted it, but I would suspect that prevailing wind will play a bigger issue than thermals due to it's location. For those of you with experience hunting spots like this, when would you set it? I think I would probably hunt in the general area in the morning and if I can't locate any bulls I'd move to the stand late morning. If there is a better, more productive way I'll do it.
I think that's a good plan, but only if the wind is cooperative in that area. If the wind is swirly, you'll do more damage than good by sitting there. Only one way to find out...
I’ve found that rarely wallows have good wind. Seems like they always favor the elk.
I’d put a camera on it and see if you can determine when and how they approach before you hunt it
I've always had my best luck sitting at wallows in the late afternoon/evening, but I have seen bulls wallow at all times of the day.
Also, I always use some sort of the urine cover scent around wallows, since they usually reek of urine, anyway. A few times I've even knelt down in the wallow to get the stinky mud all over the bottom of my pants and boots. My hunting buddies don't always appreciate the smell back at camp, but there's nothing better to mask your human scent with....but then, I haven't tried Nosejammer, yet. ;-)
I shot my first elk over a wallow. That was the last time that happened!
Like Cnelk said ... wallows are signs that there are (or were) elk in the area. Getting lucky at that exact spot isn't nearly as likely as using that intel for general confidence in the area.
Active wallows can be tough. I always consider the location, if it's halfway up the ridge into a bedding area, you can bet you'll be dealing with unpredictable winds at some point, and a lot of times, they will be visited anywhere from late morning, to mid-day.
I've had more luck on Wallows, that are hit in the early to late evening, and very early mornings. Usually they are close to feeding areas (where the elk are partying all night long). Oftentimes, the elk will drop into them, right before the thermals switch in the evenings...so your scent will be drifting uphill. I look at the contours, the most heavily-used trails, and try to get my stand as high up as possible... I've killed more than a few bulls from stands over waterholes/wallows that way. Worked out great for me last Season on this guy.
When I go to lunch at the local Mexican restaurant, they give me a mint with the check. I sure don't go there for the mint. It is the same with hunting wallows. The wallow at a tree stand location can be nice, but is rarely the main reason for going there. Set your stand at a location elk frequent. Wallows are often used very sporadically. Some don't even get used every year.
I'll think about that analogy for a bit. Plus I'm not that big on Mexican restaurants.
Tree stands for elk. My observations:
this treestand, in the background, is only 8 ft off the ground but tucked back into cover but with good shooting lanes outfront. I am on a wet meadow 40 yards wide and 60 yards long which runs NW to SE. THe treestand is set up on the downwind SE end for a morning and evening hunt, taking advantage of the cool morning thermals and the down hill breeze in the late afternoon, almost as the sun hits the tops of the trees. I can get to the stand without crossing the meadow.
A string wind indicator hanging from a nearby branch, shows me that I have until 9:10 am before the SW winds take over the cool downhill morning thermals and starts blowing my scent into the meadow and where the elk may show up. Time to get down and out. In the evening , I had to wait off site until the daily wind changed from the SW and the cooler evening currents were in my favor and then I would be in the stand. I might have an hour to an hour .5 to hunt.
I sat this stand the first morning and evening with no results, no elk or elk sounds. I was not discouraged as I had seen elk in the area and on my trail camera. The second morning, I was in the stand before first light but was very careful in my approach to the meadow, listening for elk sounds and coming in from downwind. First light came with the cool down hill thermals in my face and my wind string angling towards me. No bugles were heard but I did cow and calf call occasionally.
At 9: am the wind string was hanging straight down and I knew any moment, the daily winds would be at my back. OWell another day. I took the arrow off the bow, and replaced it in the bow quiver, my release was placed in my pocket, I hung up the bow and turned to pick up my pack hanging on a near by limb.
This bull show up 20 yards away but behind me and in the thicket. He advanced to the edge of the meadow to rake his antlers on a small tree giving me a few seconds to gather my bow, arrow and release. He steps out at 18 yards. 9:05 am
If I had gotten ready just a few minutes early or if he would have shown up a few minutes later also, this dead elk running would not have taken place. Forth yards farther the bull was down.
Tree stand hunt for elk, Hell yes. Just be smart, look for good sign, and do not scent up the place by staying too long.. my best, Paul
I've never hunted elk from a treestand....yet. But if I were planning on doing any amount of it, I would buy swede's book.
I'll probably buy it anyway. I'm sure I'll learn something.
It goes without saying that I would not just randomly hunt a hole of water in the woods. This wallow is traditionally a hot spot for bulls. In the past it's mostly raghorns but I am shooting anything legal so it is a spot to consider.
I looked for a link to your book yesterday online but could not find it. Is it still available?
Two years ago I was standing on my top climbing stick before pulling up my stand and a bull came in for a 10 minute mud bath. I stood up there with my pack, stand and bow on the ground the entire time. I was saved when two young bulls walked by and the muddy bull ran them off. I had cow tags so there was no real urgency but cool encounter.
I've hunted over wallows and never shot an elk. I usually hear them bugle in there beds and get down and sneak in. Do wallows work yes, but activity is sporadic.
I looked at a lot of websites, can't find a copy of swedes book. Anyone know where it might be available?
Only Elk I have shot from Treestand over a Wallow
Only Elk I have shot from Treestand over a Wallow
I have hunted this wallow many times and have had Deer, Bears and Elk come into it. This is the only elk I have shot on it.
The day after I shot the Elk above on the Wallow I shot this Bear.
+1 Swede. Regular waterholes, yes. At a "hot" wallow you may have an encounter in the first hour, or not for a week or three.
Also understand how afternoon thermals work at wallows. The air is rising, and where I hunt, usually swirling. Almost every wallow I know, and I know a LOT, is situated on a bench or draw below bedding areas. No matter how high I put a treestand, bulls would smell me when dropping down, and run off. (This was before I started using Nose Jammer, so not sure what effect that would have).
Roaming satellite bulls might hit a wallow and blow it up, get us all excited, and by the time we get a stand packed in and set, he might be three ridges over and headed dor Utah. Now I use wallows to know if a bull is in the area, and figure out a plan from there.
Awesome photo Paul@thefort!
That's a great bear, Rock!
I just started hunting elk last season as a target animal. I found a spot in a deep ravine where just below a very steep drop, there is a gentle slope for about one hundred yards and about forty yards wide with water in it. Lots of tracks and a good trail and it's almost always shaded and cool. I couldn't really identify a specific spot I'd say was a wallow. Good spot for a heated up bull to head to during the rut? I'm patient and I have lots of time. I'm pretty good on cow and calf calls, but can't bugle reliably worth a hoot.
Thanks for asking about the book. It is still available. There is a PayPal link on www.wapititalk.com where you can order it.
12yards, that bump behind the right shoulder, is the BH starting to come out. Thanks, ONe thing that makes this wet meadow unique is that not only does it have wallow spots, drinking spots but it is also situated as a travel route. Paul
Ambush, I almost never call from my stand. I may give a call while still on the ground, after I hang my bow on the drop line. The place you describe sounds good to me. To extrapolate on my earlier analogy, let me add: when I start my walk up to the restaurant cashier, sometimes I will give my mint to some big eyed little kid that is looking up at me. Just like the average wallow, the mint is quite unimportant. I would rather find a good spot where several trails come together, in a location where I can be partially hidden and have some good shooting lanes.
Thanks swede. These elk are moving from hay fields to thick bush ridges and they are pressured with hunting from September 1st to end of February. This spot is on a landlocked public 1/4 that I have access to. Lots of ATV pressure surrounding the private (and road hunters) and a few other hunters that don’t walk much.
I grew up out west and now live in the Midwest. Only way to hunt whitetails out here is to sit in a tree, so I sit in a tree. But, when I go out to hunt elk, it's not to sit in a tree.
“But, when I go out to hunt elk, it’s not to sit in a tree.”
When I go to hunt elk, I go to kill elk. With archery success rates running approximately 8-12%, I’m a big believer in being flexible. The more tools you have in the toolbox, the greater the odds of success.
“But, when I go out to hunt elk, it’s not to sit in a tree.”
“When I go to hunt elk, I go to kill elk.”
Bingo. This tree stand wasn’t on a wallow but in a good spot. :)
"When I go to hunt elk, I go to kill elk"
Well said, Rob!
Depending on vocal activity, the particular area, weather, etc...I could be doing anything, from running and gunning, stillhunting timber, ambushing trails, or sitting treestands over water. When one recipe starts to suck...you gotta change it up !
While I don't plan to hunt from a stand exclusively, I am a whitetail hunter. Treestand hunting is a strength for me. If I was Corey Jacobsen I would approach an elk hunt much differently. I am still in the "try to kill" phase now and am not to the point of being method picky yet.
Bowfreak, experience has absolutely nothing to do with it. As elkmtngear just pointed out, when one tactic isn’t working, try something else.
Case in point. For the first several years, I managed to kill exactly one elk in the evening. The winds in the areas I hunt are constantly switching in the late afternoon/early evening. After many “sure things” that got screwed up in the evenings due to swirling winds, I knew I had to do something different. I’d never been in a treestand in my life, but figured it was worth a shot. My treestand has been in the same tree for over 20 years. I’ve killed 8 elk out of it, and there’s only been 2 years that I couldn’t have killed one out of it if I hadn’t passed up cows and small bulls.
Is it my favorite way to hunt elk? No, but it damn sure beats beating my head against a wall when it just isn’t smart to be on the ground. Funny thing, elk don’t give a hoot what my favorite way to hunt them is. Neither do I. As long as it ends with a punched tag, it’s all good!;-)
One more point. It’s interesting the number of people that say they won’t hunt elk out of a treestand because it’s “boring”. In my 35 years of bowhunting elk, 2 of the top 5 most intense, heart-in-your-throat encounters have been in my treestand. To make it even better, the number of elk that have been directly under my stand number in the triple digits. Those are darn near as memorable!
BTW, my tree isn’t by a wallow. As others have mentioned, wallows are far too sporadic for my liking.
I get it. I totally respect everyone's choice to hunt how they want to hunt. And yes, I have sat waterholes for hours on end, both in a blind and in a tree. But for me, after spending so much time in a tree, it's so much more enjoyable to be on the ground and mobile.
Elk hunting from a treestand vs. on the ground calling is like comparing sex with a condom vs. without. Sure its fun but deep down we all know its not as good.
Actually I don't know (about the elk portion of your analogy) since I've never killed one by any method. At this point I'll be happy to shoot one regardless.
mulecreek, you forgot the flip side of your analogy. When elk aren’t responding to your on-the-ground calling, but are frequenting the area around your treestand, is like comparing sex with a condom to having a date with Rosy Palms. Just sayin...
I know my analogies can be pretty corny, but some here are a little too much. Saying that shooting an elk from a tree stand is not as satisfying as shooting one from the ground has to be just a personal point of view. It reminds me of the fellow that came to camp with a new long bow one year. He claimed he wanted it because it was "more challenging". The problem as I saw it was that he had never shot anything more animated with his compound bow than a bale of hay. Or it is like the fly fisherman that thinks his way of catching fish is for the "real" sportsmen.
I don't think an elk tastes differently if I chose to shoot it from a tree vs the ground. Ambush is an ambush. I would dig a pit blind for elk if I thought it would tip the odds in my favor.
I’ve arrowed three of my five archery elk from tree stands. I sat in one this year four nights and never saw an animal. But a day later, I shot a nice bull from the ground. However, another hunter in our camp did arrow a big six point from a tree stand. I’ll take them any way legal and I can’t say one method is more exciting than the other. All arrow taken elk are very exciting.
AS others have stated just another tool, ie treestand, to kill an elk. While I posted my treestand experience above, this was the first time using one and it accounted for my 12 elk with the bow. Spot and stalk, call in , rattle in, bang some brush, ambush on the ground, decoy, I have done them all and they all have provided a close encounter.
my best, Paul
Swede, Of course it's personal preference. There is no way to quantify "satisfaction". I am not questioning anyone's manhood or whether they are a "real" sportsman. Just stating my opinion. I have archery hunted elk always on the ground and I have archery hunted whiteys from a tree stand. To me the elk hunting is way more enjoyable. Not even a close comparison. While I still enjoyed the whitetail hunts, if given the choice I would pick elk, during the rut, face to face every time. YMMV.
And in reference to the condom analogy, I've rolled both ways and while that race is much closer than the on the ground vs. tree stand race, one is definetly better than the other. I suspect all can guess which one?
This thread was started to see what experienced tree stand hunters would have to say about when and how to hunt a wallow on a flat. Though some have shown that going up 8 feet in place where you are not easily seen is often adequate, I prefer to go higher. Going up 25+ feet is not foolproof either when you are dealing with swirling winds and downdrafts, but often it helps. More often your scent does not hit the ground close by when you have some elevation above the elk trail or spring. I also think I can get away with a little more movement. There is no guarantee here either, but height helps. When considering height include the additional ground elevation in your measurement, or if you are down in a basin and the trail is above, subtract.