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How do elk use 2 year old burn
We are planning a potential return trip to an area we hunted several times through the years, last time in 2018. In 2020 there were scattered fires that burned much of the area. The area was mostly dark timber with scattered openings, most smaller than a football field but a few the size of several football fields. We had the best luck in the past hunting these small fields and the elk would bed up in the thick dark timber that was around them. I know there will be lots of new green grass growing in the burns but my question is this, without much of the dark timber bedding do they use these burned areas or fields much less now because cool bedding is no longer close by? Should we just focus on the fields or new growth that is near the areas that didn't burn and still have dark timber? I'm trying to see if, from a distance, we can mark off large chunks of burnt areas because the bedding cover is no longer there. Or, are they perfectly happy bedding in the more open burnt stands even in warm weather like September?
They'll bed on north slopes in burned timber. The edge areas are always the first places I look though, especially pockets of dark timber within the burned areas.
Depends on their mood, pressure and how hot it is. Even in burnt stands, there is often enough shade to bed down. If they like the spot and aren't pushed out of it, they will often stay there. However, they often get pushed out of spots like that because they are seen more easily. Before the fire, you couldn't glass them from the opposite ridge. Now guys find them, and push them out. The fire has likely created a lot more feed opportunities, but they still love the open parks when they aren't disturbed. Once pressured, they wait til later in the evening/night and leave earlier in the morning or even before daylight. Pressure is the biggest key in my experience.
Tough call on bedding. Pressure will affect where they bed. They will use the burns to feed. If you found them bedding in thick dark timber in the past it is likely they will do the same again. They are willing to cover ground from bedding to feeding areas if needed.
Usually there is excellent notorious feed in these burns. It will not go to waste.
The burn I hunted last year had elk from one end to the other. They’d bed in the open burn areas most of the time.
Nice Bull CFMuley. I’m gonna need those coordinates :>))))
Elk love those burns.......sorry for the crummy pic, pouring rain and I was solo.
I think it also depends on how hot the fire burned. One of my usual elk spots burned in 2020. The area was closed to hunting last year, but I did a fair amount of scouting during the season from the roads that remained open. Areas that didn't burn too hot had patches of burnt and unburnt trees similar to the pics above. Those areas already had new growth coming up, and I saw a few deer using them, but no elk.
Other areas looked like a nuclear bomb had exploded. Every tree and every bit of vegetation had burned to the ground. Those areas were still void of any new growth and wildlife, just scorched earth. The game warden/biologist I talked to said he didn't expect the elk to return to those areas for several years.
Overall, the fire changed the whole dynamics of hunting in this area. Entire timber covered hillsides, where wildlife could seek cover and protection, are completely exposed now, and can be glassed from miles away. Much of the beetle-kill blow down, which made hiking extremely difficult in the past, is no longer there. That should spread the hunters out a bit, instead of congregating on known hiking trails. Whether or not the elk will be back is left to be seen. I'm hopeful, but have my doubts.
A couple of my areas burned like what GG describes. Four years later the ground is still black dust with NO feed. Last summer a team of biologists were in there studying the soil chemistry to try to figure out if something could be seeded. When the wind blows, it is like smoke.
Lou, the fire burnt so hot it sterilized the soil. That happened in places in 76, where those bulls came out of, and some of the Mosca fire nw of here. We were told we'd probably never see stuff grow in those areas.
Matt and Jaq have a point. I was driving through sections of a burn in Co U7 last year and it burned so hot in some places there wasn’t a scrap of green.
I prefer a 2-5 year old burn for bow hunting that area.
New lush new growth vegetation.
The only Pain in the Azz is more blow down each year for packing out an elk.
Good luck, Robb