Contributors to this thread:
How about a thread related to hunting, that some of us could actually learn something. Full disclaimer: I’m no expert and don’t claim to be, so use at your own risk.
Seems like in the last several years everyone and their brother is headed west in search of the September dream- elk hunting. And for the last several years I’ve been one of them, but find myself hunting solo for 10 plus days. It seems I spend more time dodging other hunters than actually hunting. But that’s the game, this public land hunting.
So I’ll start and add more later.
-be friendly be respectful: should go without saying right, but as a non resident you are a guest. One year at a small town gas station. Another hunter was filling next to me. We exchanged a few words like “are they talking yet”. After bumping into each other a couple more times, I knew we we’re hunting the same general area. Turns out he was hunting solo as well and as a resident knew the area pretty well. One day he stopped me and asked me how it was going. I said “not worth a $hit” but told him where I’d been hunting. At the end of our conversation I said, “hey if you get one down, stop by my camp I’ll help you pack him out”. He said likewise. In the end no elk were packed but I still get one text a year from him every September asking how it’s going! Good dude
-buy your groceries etc. in the local small town. I usually get a couple 1” thick fresh cut ribeyes for a victory feast-but more often then not I end up eating them without the victory LOL but... I’ve got some great tips from the locals that drive the same roads I’m hunting off of.
Last but not least -don’t park your dang camp trailer in front of a locked gate to lay claim to the area then get pissed if I walk around it. I won’t if there’s a pickup or quad parked, to avoid bumping into another hunter...but a camp trailer, come on man.
Nothing ground breaking here I know... I’d like to hear some of your tips tricks or general pet peeves
Always be curious and helpful is a good start.
That's some beautiful country Kelly. Good luck.
Good post! Apparently it's still allowed to talk about hunting here... who knew?
Bearman nailed it!
ALWAYS be ready. Some years back during a late morning break, 3 of us had our boots off and pointed toward the sun. Socks off hanging on bushes (dewy morning) and a big 6x6 strolled on by us chirping like a cow. Nobody was ready and he walked right out of our lives.
"-buy your groceries etc. in the local small town."
If there's a small sporting goods store or hardware store stop in and drop a few $$. Even if you don't 'need' a back-up flashlight, drop ten dollars - and then stop back in on the way home.
I drew a NM unit 17 tag. After months of online research, talking to previous tag holders. I had a base camp spot picked. When I arrived late at night there were 2 wall tents and an elaborate camp set up. I just sprawled out next to my truck for that night. The next morning a man approached and asked where I was hunting. He introduced himself as a local unit 13, 15, 17 outfitter. I let him know I plan to go into the wilderness and spike camp and of course that was right where he wanted to go and he had been keeping an eye on a very large bull in the area I told him I was going. He was obviously frustrated but very polite so I said listen, my second and third choices were not very good. if he could point me in to a solid back up direction I would go there. He asked for my map and circled a lot of places to go. the first place he told me to go. I hunted it and it was a great spot with a lot of action and I killed a nice bull.
So sometimes. Not always of course it helps to communicate and work it out. I usually defer to locals.
Avoid plastering your truck with hunting stickers so as not to broadcast your public land honey hole to everyone and their dog. Same with wearing orange while in a truck!
-what do you have to lose:
One year hunting a new to me unit, (general tag) in Montana. I found a spot e-scouting that looked good. First evening I crossed a river next to busy highway and hiked up one of the long deep drainages coming off the mountain. There was decent elk sign in the area but nothing crazy fresh. So I crossed into the next drainage and so on. These drains were separated by mostly treeless sage brush and pasture.
After bumbling around for a few hours I started heading back down to the river. I’d stop every now and then to glass back on the sage flats between drains. Well wouldn’t you know it with 15-20 minutes of light left I spotted a single cow running with a nice framed bull dogging her. So they are across a deep drainage easily 1.5 - 2 miles away. While watching them I was trying to figure out what had spooked them or where they were headed. One thing was apparent the cow was looking for more elk. She would run a ways, stop and listen then run again. That bull was on her like a good bird dog on a rooster. With light fading fast, I ask myself what are the chances I could call her across that sage flat, down though a drainage up to me? One in a million...oh what the hell. I pulled my bow off my pack, attached my cow decoy and took cover in a cut leading down into the drainage.
I’m definitely not a good caller but I did my best impression of a group of cows having a party. I sit and impatiently wait, throwing out an occasional mew over my shoulder. Well nothing shows up, go figure! I put my arrow back in my quiver and started to take the decoy off my bow and.... you guessed it here comes the lonely cow dragging the bull with her! At 25yards she turns and runs out to about 40. I do my best to stop them but no dice!
If I’d given it one more minute I would have had a close shot at a nice bull the first day of my hunt. Dude wth!
After thinking about it, that cow told me everything I needed to do. The chances of caller her over were really pretty high. Another one for the old mental notebook.
Thanks for the responses this far guys!
That must have been one loud cow call to be heard 1.5-2 miles away!
Tricks? None really.
Tips? Don't be overly discouraged by seeing high numbers of competition at the trailhead. If you have plenty of time and effort, you can usually find a huntable area even though it may require a day or two.
Indeed it was John! But there was no wind dead calm. I suppose I could measure it on onX. But at any rate it was a long way and at first thought, this was never going to work LOL
Humans love to extrapolate and assume. Myself included, definitely. In my truck I have two stickers—the Audubon Society, and another local conservation organization. Both of which I support. And tossed on my passenger seat there’s often a bird identification book. I like to think this has served me well in terms of parking along the road, in some environments. I call the stickers my “parking pass.”
If you are doing any type calling in a spot where an elk could pop out with in bow range, have an arrow knocked with bow in hand.
Never bugle/call from a spot where you are out in the wide open with no cover. A bull could walk out beyond bow range and away your pretty much screwed.
Look around before you bugle/call and have an idea what you will do if a bull answers or comes to the call. Make sure you’re in a spot where you can capitalize on the situation.
Some good advise above. The best tip I can give is to keep your hopes and expectations realistic. Remember, 9 out of 10 bowhunters eat elk tag soup in most areas, especially in OTC public areas. Hunt hard and smart, enjoy your time in the woods, and if you happen to kill an elk, consider it a bonus.
If you have a 3D archery course near by practice shooting at different angles on the animals. Also the good ones in my opinion have 3D target with branches blocking the animals leaving portions of the vitals exposed for a shot. This is some of the best practice you can get if your hunting thicker areas.
You will learn if your arrow will arch enuff to clear branches, or if you will hit them. Also just practicing shooting through the branches gets you prepared in the moment of truth on a real animal.
I see quite a few guys at the 3D range that end up shooting the trees/branches blocking parts of the animal even though the vitals themselves are wide open. They are so focused on not hitting the tree, they don’t focus on the vitals and miss.
Where I elk hunt it’s extremely rare to get a bull perfectly broadside in the wide open that just stops on his own where you want him to.
More often than not we have to stop them in a small window where there is a clean shot of the vitals.
This all happens very fast fast, and if you don’t practice it these situations are just close calls, that could easily be notched tags.
You have a very short time frame to stop the bull and judge if the angle of the body is good for a kill.
I would guess at least half the bulls my buddy I hunt with the most and I shoot are in these scenarios, and we wouldn’t have killed them if we didn’t practice for it.
This might sound crazy, but I like to attend church during my longer hunts, if I can find a Lutheran church anywhere nearby. On four occasions when the church-goers learned that I was hunting nearby, they offered to help. Once in Montana when I floated a stretch of the Missouri River, somebody from church was nice enough to move my truck from the put in to take out spot. Another time in UT, the pastor was a hunter himself with pack stock and insisted that I call him if I got an elk down. Unfortunately the year we had an elk down 5 miles into the wilderness, he wasn’t available. One year in Casper WY, some members told me to call them if I needed help packing but I lost their numbers, and it took me 3 days to get my bull out of the hellhole canyon I was hunting. On a moose hunt near Pinedale WY, the pastor and several members offered to help me but my bull fell only 1/2 mile from the truck and it was an easy pack. The point is, those church members offered to help, and they also made good suggestions on places to hunt.
Get to know or talk with the local game wardens when you get the chance in the field. Some are good guys or gals that can be helpful.
Ain't that the truth badbull! Some years back I was backpack solo hunting in a wilderness every year. The local game warden asked where i camp and I said I wouldn't tell her. She said she'd find me. Told her I paint up and become part of the mountain. At end of season was having a beer with her in town and she said she spent a couple days up there riding and camping and didn't find me. Next summer she called one day and asked if I wanted her to pack me in with her horse and mule. Said hell yah! She did and said now I know where you camp. Packed me in a couple years and offered to pack meat out. So yup, knowing the local Conservation Officer can be helpful. End of story.
Whocares, what is it with these female officers ? While bowhunting elk in Wyoming a few years back, I encountered a young female game warden that reminded me of and looked like my granddaughter (cute as a button and made me feel like I wanted to protect her from someone or something). She was on the lookout for some poacher with a crossbow that was wounding does and leaving them be. She ended up telling me where to do some bugling where we got a bull a couple days later. It was not the first time that I got good advice from a Wyoming or Colorado Warden.
Does anybody ever try not calling? All I hear are guys talking about how educated the bulls get during early archery.
Pretty good one Danc
The course I shoot at has the vitals even more covered on the more challenging shoots.
Basketball size spots over the vitals
Really great practice hunting any animal in thick cover
Cute game wardens that will help pack elk? What kind of dream world.... apparently I’m hunting the wrong areas ;)
Here’s one for the younger fellas still of breeding age. Use a rubber In December/January. Think about where you want to be in 9 months ;)
I killed a bull in Wyoming on the 19th and raced home...and welcomed our 3rd daughter on the 22nd. Too close for comfort...luckily I have a good wife LOL
Good stuff fellas thanks
If I have a bull sound off close to me I like to be pretty passive at least at first. I may give a little chip then like to rake a tree for a few minutes. Not just once or twice but for like 3 minutes. This works especially good in early season before the main rut kicks in.
When hunting with a buddy and the shooter let's loose an arrow, KEEP HUNTING as there have been multiple times that we could have shot 2 in same spot. Just got too pumped that we got an arrow in one and forgot to keep hunting. The possibility is always there that another shooter is close by. Good luck to all.
Let elk call you in instead of trying to call them in.
Michael, how's this? trust me it's way uglier from the compound stakes ;-)
DanaC, I bet that log had a nice U shape notch in it after everyone went through. While I love those type of scenarios because it really makes you concentrate, it usually causes a bottle up with at least one person in most groups looking for a skipped arrow.
Just pulled from above...don't let a truck or quad keep you from going in somewhere if they were there first. I hunt several places where there might be 6-8 trucks at various trailheads. Sometimes never run into a soul and get into game. Of course this isn't the ideal situation but sometimes it works.
Totally agree with the comments about being friendly, genuine, curious, and offering to help others (within reason). Most folks will quickly let you know how they want to be treated....and some apparently want to be treated like chit.....LOL
Just remember to have the time of your life no matter what....it is an adventure!
Every year I berate myself....don't hesitate. And I always hesitate. Sigh.......that is why I am way more successful with a camera than a bow.
Buy the best quality gear you can afford. You get what you pay for in this game.....for the most part.....but don't bypass the cheap and effective gear that is proven itself.
If you think you are moving too slow....you are probably moving too fast. Hunt fast until it is time to hunt slow....when you hit sign it is time to stop and evaluate and proceed with extreme caution. Until then there is no time to waste.
Stop the bull with a hard grunt. Not a cow call. I use a voice grunt made by sucking air in and tightening the base of my tongue against the palate. Same as a voice bugle. If a bull stopped dead in his tracks every time he heard a cow mew, he wouldn't get very far.