Don’t you just love the thrill of hunting? Fewer things feel as good as being the hunter that eventually conquers their prey. Still, if there’s one thing hunters can agree on, it’s that elk hunting is hard. Inadequate research and gear, as well as lack of physical preparation, are among the things that make it demanding.
That said, elk hunting is just about the biggest game animal hunting you can experience. Elks have well-defined habits that will require some well-thought-out hunting strategies, and if you prepare accordingly, you could have your most rewarding hunt yet.
So how exactly do you prepare for elk hunting? You understand elk habitat and behavior, plan ahead, get your hunting tags, and follow these elk hunting tips I am about to share with you.
Get in Shape
If there’s one thing you should get ready for, it’s the hike. ATVs can only go so far, and elk country is anything but flat.
You should be prepared to walk miles in your gear and boots through forests and up and down the hills, which is no easy feat. If or when you do fill your tag, you’ll have to carry the pounds of meat on your back.
No! Shooting the elk will not be the hardest part. The real job will start when you start dressing. Weather and terrain play a significant role in elk hunting, so you must have a plan of action. Having a partner helps a lot because carrying a 600 pound of meat alone is certainly not easy, if at all possible.
Being in shape is one of the most important things you can do to prepare for a successful hunt. If you can get into a running routine and lift weights, the better. If you plan a 10-day hunting trip, your body will adjust to the altitude in the first two days, then things will get easier from there. It is recommended to bring or wear your best gear with you always. Having a reliable gun, clothing, and comfy insoles for worker boots can make the difference in your performance in the wild. Lilly Harvey of ShoeAdviser once said that “If you do suffer from quite painful feet, then you won’t want anything else to affect them, which is why you must consider purchasing a pair of insoles that do have a shock absorber.” The little things will turn out very helpful in the long run.
Plan Your Hunt
Planning your elk hunting strategies ahead of time is crucial for a successful hunt. Do you plan on taking an outfitter with you, or is it just a fun hunting trip with some pals? If you feel you need an experienced guide with you, then ensure you check them out through the state wildlife agency.
Know your hunting ground and do some scouting ahead of the hunting trip so you know how to find elk. If you can visit the area and check out the terrain and study maps to see where you expect to find elk, you’ll have a better chance of a successful hunt. It’ll help if you know the migration routes of the elk and found good wallows before the hunt.
The Right Time to Hunt
Timing is everything when it comes to an elk hunting expedition. If you think that all you have to do is call out and the elk will come running, regardless of the time, then you seriously have to reconsider. If you don’t know this yet, bulls bugle during the breeding season, which is usually from late September in most places.
Most of the time, you’ll find that by mid-October bulls are silent, and the calling game is almost over. This is usually the firearms open season, so you may want to consider archery hunting during the breeding season.
Besides this, when the firearms seasons open, there’ll be hordes of hunters looking to make a kill, and the elk will hide in their security areas, which may be impossible to penetrate, or even find.
One the Right Equipment
One of the most important things you can have for your elk hunting is a cow call. If you make it during the breeding season, a cow call could easily attract either herds or solo bulls that may be reluctant to bugle calls. Solo bulls are likely to be intimidated by bugle calls but will gladly respond to a cow call.
Of course, you need to be very good at this, so practice beforehand and listen to elk sounds on video. Elks usually make a lot of noise, and you need to reassure them that you are indeed one of them and not a hunter.
You must be careful about your scent as they’ll flush as soon as they smell you, so wearing scent eliminating clothing is an excellent idea. You need to have the best binoculars, rifle, rifle scope, and bow depending on what you choose to use. It would be best if you also had the right pack to carry all your gear, the meat, and possibly enormous antlers once you are successful.
Talking About the Right Hunting Clothes
The base layer is essentially the most important. Merino wool is one of the most suitable because it has adequate moisture-wicking qualities. Beyond that, it has incredible odor control. You need quality insulation on top of that, and this will depend mostly on the season.
If you go bow hunting, which mostly starts in August, lightweight merino wool will be suitable. By the beginning of October, you’ll need mid-weight merino wool and possibly a rain jacket close by. It may help you have some extra clothes in the pack just in case the weather changes unexpectedly.
If there is one thing you can’t afford to overlook, it’s your feet. It would help if you had quality boots and quality socks because getting blisters in such terrain is easy but very inconvenient. Your feet need to be dry and well protected all through the hunt.
Practice With Your Bow or Rifle
One of the most essential archery hunting tips is that you need to practice. You need to be proficient before you can start hunting, otherwise, even if you encounter elk, it may as well be pointless if you can’t shoot. Spend several months prior to the hunting season practicing your craft and learning how far you can shoot comfortably.
Stay Hydrated and Carry Some Shelter