Hunting an elk can be considerably more complex, and hunters can be put through some of the most challenging circumstances of their life while hunting one. You may have to camp hundreds of feet above the earth or in the vast wilderness, which is considerably more complex than regularly hunting more minor games.
However, hunting elks can be a tough challenge since they require more skills, perseverance, and tactics when it comes to beginners. Elk hunting secrets include the area of the hunt, time of year, topography, weather conditions, and just understanding the ins and outs of elk life. Here are some beginner-friendly Elk hunting tips to help you with your big game:
Top 10 Tips for Your First Elk Hunting Trip:
1. Stay fit
Elk hunting becomes considerably more difficult since they often dwell in mountainous areas that need extensive hiking. Climbing the hills will become a daily task if you go elk hunting since they are tough to locate. Most times, you’ll go elk hunting blind and continue ascending mountains without ever seeing an elk.
If you happen to see an elk, it may be 400-500 yards distant but on a different mountain. So the fact is that if you don’t have the strength and stamina to climb mountains, it will be impossible to hunt elks successfully.
That is why you must be in good condition to walk at least six kilometers each day in steep terrain. Professional hunters advise beginners to get into a jogging program, exercise weights, and ride bikes before hunting.
In general, the better physical shape you are in, the greater your chances are of having a successful elk hunting experience. It is possible that by the second or third day of a 10-day hunt, your body will have acclimated to the elevation, and you will have days of trekking that are not as difficult.
2. Know the animal
Elk are some of the unique creatures on earth. And hunting Elk isn’t something you can master through knowing other hunters’ experiences; Elk hunting can only be grasped by hands-on experience in the field and having good knowledge about the animal before you go hunting.
Elk have a wide kill zone, yet they may run very far after being struck with a solid shot. Male Elks may weigh up to 900 pounds, while female Elks can weigh up to 700 pounds. They have magnificent racking and antler arrangements.
Elks, in particular, have a distinct pattern of wandering, eating, and resting. If you want to have a good hunt right away, you must know vastly about Elks to search for elks and understand how they travel.
To spot and hunt the Elk, spotting where they drink water will help bigtime as Elk needs water at least twice a day, so if you locate a nice drinking hole with many signs, keep a watch on it since they will most certainly return after mealtimes. The best times of seeing the Elks grazing will be at first and last light. Pay close attention if you’re up there as they wander through wooden planks in alpine meadows and nooks to find fodder.
Dusk and Dawn is the time for the highest likelihood of you seeing them. Lower elevation hunters would see them in grazing fields and open grasslands with timbered regions surrounding them for protection.
Elks may not be ingenious animals in the conventional sense, but they do, however, have unique senses and highly protective instinctual behaviors and responses. Elk can see a great distance away, even a half-mile or more. Elks detect movement fast because they see human activity as a danger and run immediately to protect themselves.
However, they don’t necessarily know how to process the detected movement. They have difficulty distinguishing between what is and isn’t alive without seeing motion, detecting fragrance, or hearing proof, such as a human voice, unusual noises, etc.
3. Hunt in the right location
If you’re not hunting in the right location, there’s no point preparing for your big Elk hunting experience. Hunting in the locations where there is a mass number of Elks will increase your chances of a successful hunt.
It comes naturally that the farther you go away from public places and the deeper you get into pure wilderness, the greater your chances of finding elk in elk-rich areas. Elks are mostly found in – Alaska, Michigan, Colorado, Wyoming, Washington, Montana, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Idaho, Utah, and New Mexico.
Besides hunting in the mentioned states, always have a lookout for rivers or usual places where Elks may come to drink. Elks usually need to drink water twice a day, and keeping an eye out for signs of Elks near rivers will increase your chance of spotting an Elk and maybe luckily hunting it.
4. Know your area of hunting
Whichever state you plan to hunt in, knowing the area of hunting well will help you immensely. Hence, we recommend that you set aside some time to go exploring before your hunting. You can visit the area where you plan to hunt elk earlier in summer before going Elk hunting in fall.
Analyze maps to determine where you want to set up camp, which area you will have to walk across, and where you hope to spot Elk. For non-residents, you should be able to hire a guide or an outfitter to perform the necessary reconnaissance for you.
Alternatively, seek a companion in the area who can assist you in getting started and giving you an idea of where to look for the game. Once you are acquainted with the locations, you can go on.
Additionally, before your hunting, research the Elk’s movement patterns to make sure you’re prepared. Before going on an early-season hunt, look for great wallows. And make sure to make a note of where they are on your maps as well.
Nowadays, there are so many apps that are easily accessible, and you can download them on your mobile phone even if you are not in range of cell phone network, which is especially useful when you are traveling further into the wilderness where cell phone service is limited or non-existent.
5. Choosing the right hunter bow or rifle
Hunting an elk is not as simple as chasing a rabbit or a sheep; an elk is considerably larger and more challenging to bring down. It would be best to use a decent bow or a rifle; no other equipment or hunters will suffice.
If you are hunting with a bow, you should have spent several months shooting it before your elk hunt. It’s essential to know the bow’s strength and have enough of it to bring down the Elk. It would be ideal if you were sure that your sights were placed at the ranges you may need to fire at. You have to be at ease with your draw weight.
Before your hunt, go to the ranges and discover how far you can fire correctly and securely with a rifle. You must be aware that when you press the trigger, and the aim is in the middle of your night vision, the bullet will fall precisely where you expect it to. You don’t want to go out in the field, spot the Elk, and attempt to push the boundaries of precision shooting.
When selecting a rifle, make sure it is a bolt action rifle with both finger and palm action. Elk hunting may be accomplished with a bow weighing 400 to 500 grains. Experts also recommend using a stiff arrow to make a shot with high penetration.
6. Calling the Elk
While you don’t have to be a great caller to call for Elks, You still can’t underestimate this part. Consider practicing your Cow, Bull, and Calf calls and improve over time as calling for the Elk will play a vital role.
To simulate a herd, you need to use a variety of noises. If there is just one kind of call, the elk will notice something is amiss. As a general rule, according to professional hunters, cow calling and chirping are your best options.
Before arriving at elk camp, any hunter must have a cow elk call and learn how to blow it. So, regardless of what occurs during the hunt, you’ll have an option – the cow elk call, to attract a bull elk to you.
For example, you may get disconnected from your hunting partner/guide and come upon a bull. You might be able to draw the bull to you by just making a few cow sounds.
7. Careful first hunt
Elks have a specific routine of wandering, eating, and resting, typically between the south and the north. If you want to have a good hunt right away, you must learn to scout for elks and understand how they travel.
Elks typically look for food on the southern slopes and then migrate to the northern forests to rest in the night. You may discover maps that show where the elks typically travel; the maps will assist you in comprehending the nature of the movement.
If you’re on high terrain, a decent set of binoculars may also help you scout for the best leads of the elks surrounding you. You can track their excrement and footprints to see how far they’ve traveled and how many of them were present.
8. Right hunting gear
Hunting may necessitate a large amount of gear to land a good shot or track correctly. But, once beginners realize this, they prefer to pack every piece of equipment they can find in their bag and dive in just in case they need anything.
When hunting Elk, you have to climb mountains, and it is necessary to be as light as you possibly can. Keeping your backpack clear will benefit you in two ways: it will aid in your ascent of the mountain, and a clear bag will be necessary for the search.
A hunting tent, packable sleeping bag, a sharp knife, a rain jacket, a set of binoculars with a tripod, latex gloves, cow calls, a long bungee rope, and license documents are all essentials for an elk hunt. Make sure to assemble the documents and tags in an airtight bag, seal the knife with plastic bubble wrap, and your rucksack.
9. Dressing for the Elk hunting
When it comes down to dressing for Elk hunting, hunters are often confused if Camo is necessary. The answer is simple. Camo isn’t a prerequisite for successful Elk hunting, but it can help you blend in with your environment as Camo are designed for that exact purpose.
You can go for Camo, but if you choose not to spend on Camo, make sure to go for clothing you are comfortable in and make sure that the color/tone of your dress matches your hunting environment.
If you go for something bright, you will stand out in nature, and it can be a considerable drawback, so it is suggested you wear earthy, natural tones that help you blend in the wilderness.
But more important than your clothing, ensure steady moves so that Elks cannot detect your movement. Because clothing will hardly help if you are constantly moving and the game detects your motion.
10. Professional hunting partner
There is a lot to learn about elk hunting practically in the wild that you cannot learn through manuals or coaching. Make a plan to go elk hunting with an experienced elk hunter if this is your first time. His previous hunting experiences will lead you through the complex procedure that may assist you on the scene.
Hire a professional guide earlier on in your hunting ventures. Prepare to take notes and ask your guide questions about hunting. Find out what the ideal elk hunting and tracking techniques are in your region of hunting.
When you find yourself in a difficult position when hunting your first Elk, he will assist you with his knowledge and expertise. Some issues can be complicated for you to deal with as a beginner, particularly if you’re tracking or scouting. The lessons learned on the first day with an experienced hunter will far outweigh weeks of hunting alone.
Elk hunting may be challenging, but your hunt can be less stressful and more effective with these tips. So, make sure to keep these tips in consideration, and good luck with your successful big game!
Pavel is a true outdoor enthusiast with a passion for nature and a love for the great outdoors. He started Outdoor Fun Mag to introduce people from all walks of life to everything the outdoors has to offer and hopes that you’ll find something that excites you every time you stop by.
When not exploring nature Pavel works as an Electronics Engineer — a job that gets him thinking and makes sure he pays attention to all those fine details. This means that when he leaves work for the week, there’s no better contrast than the calmness and serenity of the natural world. By giving Pavel the chance to switch off and relax, his time spent camping and hiking allows him to feel refreshed.
In the future, Pavel plans to explore new areas and corners of the world with nothing more than a backpack and a tent. It’s an authentic way of seeing new places that allow him to de-stress and enjoy life, and he wants you to make the most of your life too.