Home Forums Campfire Forum first elk hunt!

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    • Ron Roettger
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      Post count: 52

      Hi all, I have drawn my first ever elk tag. It is a cow/calf tag for Eastern WY. I have hunted deer and turkeys in the SD blackhills for many years, and been near many elk. But I have never hunted them or tried to call them in.
      Any advise on calling in a cow elk would be much appreciated.
      I will be going the last 8 days of Sept. in the foothills of the blackhills. As of now I plan to hunt from a tree stand near water (I have been close to many elk while hunting deer like this)but if the weather is wet and they are not hitting water I hope to learn more on calling the antlerless of the species. Thanks Ron

    • David Petersen
      Member
      Post count: 2749

      Hi Ron — Since you have this identical post in two forums I’ve deleted the one in Campfire, to prevent confusion and repetition. No Biggie.

      Congrats on your elk draw. While I have never attempted purposely to call in a cow or calf, I have inadvertently done so many times. Most “cow talk” is between cows and calves, esp. when a herd is moving through cover and they lose sight of one another. That’s why biologists use the term “coalescence” calls … they’re intended to keep elk together. If you listen closely it won’t take long to distinguish between cow and calf, as the latter is more bleating, higher-pitched and just “more calf-life” in every way. A calf that’s been separated from it’s mother and/or the herd is quite easy to call in with cow calls. Likewise and more productive is to make rather urgent calf calls to call in cows, since any elk cow that hears it is inclinded to come check, even if she has her calf with her. If I were going to use this tactic I’d wait until I hear some cow talk, move in as close as possible, then set up and do some persistent (but not panicked) calf calling. At this time of year the calfs are weaned and bigger than big deer, so no worries about killing either calves or “orphaning” them by killing Mom. I went through a “trophy calf” hunting stage but decided I don’t like the meat as much, and of course there is less of it, so now my meat elk of choice is a yearling cow. On the down side is that late in Sept., when you’ll be hunting, most elk are in big herds, meaning you’ll most likely either call in nothing or really have your hands full. An evening ambush over remote water is an excellent way to kill elk, esp. if you’re willing to sit it out until full dark and risk tracking and field dressing by flashlight. I killed most of my elk in early years this way, but have since quite hunting about half an hour before dark to lessen the risk of losing a wounded animal. Elk cannot go overnight without field dressing and not lose meat to souring, starting around the ball joint in the down-side ham; prime meat. I prefer not to call when sitting in ambush on water. Be very careful about shot placement and vertical shooting angle when shooting at elk from a tree. It’s hard enough to get an arrow past the shoulder and between the ribs and through both lungs and preferably into the heart even with a perfect broadside shot when you’re on the ground. A steep shot down at elk greatly increases odds of a one-lung hit and the consequences can be nasty indeed. It is done successfully, but you have to be a lot more selective than with deer, using imaginary X-ray vision to concentrate on where you want the arrow to emerge from the far side when you aim. Place you stand as low as possible. Hope some of this helps. dp

    • Chad Sivertsen
      Post count: 84

      Ron,
      Elkheart himself said it all. I will just add have fun and practice regularly. the anticipation is half the enjoyment.

    • wildschwein
      Post count: 581

      Congratulations on drawing your Elk tag. Mr.Petereson said it all, except he left out my favorite time tested tactic to finding Elk. Don’t buy a tag. Do that and you’ll have Elk up to your elbows 15 minutes into opening day. Works every time :wink:.

    • Ron Roettger
      Member
      Member
      Post count: 52

      David and others, thank you for taking the time to give the great info. I go to the SD Blackhills each fall the same week as this hunt (work, and teaching hunter, bowhunter Ed classes, and a grandson’s birthday make it the best week for my schedule) I see most elk in herds as you noted. some times I spot a Cow and calf off aways as though looking for the herd. I will be tent camping in SD just yards from the WY state line. Hopping the fence and hunting a strip of land about 1-1.5 miles wide and 15 miles north to south, with a few small private parcells in it. I would love to have a larger “wider” area like the SD blackhills to hunt but Non Res. can not hunt elk in SD. Our Wisconsin herd is not growing at a rate that will likely offer Me a tag in my lifetime. After reseaching drawing odds (51 hunters put in for 20 cow/calf tags) for the Unit I will hunt. The trips- tags,lic. and stamps for a Cow/calf plus a Doe/fawn deer come to $392.50 Gas, food, and lodging bring the total cost of the trip in under $700.00( that even allows for dry ice) I have Turkey hunted and scouted the area in the past and know the water hole,etc. and have seen elk spring and fall on the WY side. I will be using my Big Rivers flatbow, and woodshafts tipped with 160 grain Wensel Woodsmans heads. Thanks again. Ron.

    • tom-wisconsin
      Post count: 239

      Sounds like a great hunt to look forward to. Congratulations:D

    • sagebrush
      Post count: 52

      I would add that if you are in an area with human traffic and the elk are skittish, I would put the call away and just keep your eyes open. I have seen them run the other way from a call. Also, if you get one at dusk, make sure you have a good headlamp and plenty of batteries. I like getting them at dusk. That way there are no flies. But it can be bad carrying them out in the dark. Gary

    • Ron Roettger
      Member
      Member
      Post count: 52

      Gary, thanks for the info. I know what you mean about the flies. I have taken a number of deer on the SD side in this area. Many just after first light, and if it is going to get warm and sunny I work fast to get done before the hoards of flies come. I have been reading/research on field processing elk. Being so much bigger, I will not be able to just drag it into a shaded draw to help with the heat and flies. I have bought game bags, have a pack and a game cart if I am lucky and get one the details/location will decide what I use. In a perfect world I would make the shot just after sunrise, see the elk go down, have a cool/cold cloudy (no rain) day to take my time processing and packing out the meat.
      But we know it is not such a world, I hope to be ready for the task if I do harvest an elk. Keep the info coming it is agreat help. Thanks Ron

    • sagebrush
      Post count: 52

      Another suggestion: Elk are big. They take a lot of cutting to skin them and break them into packable size pieces. I even go farther and separate the individual muscles and pack them out. That way some of the work is done when I get home and I have less to pack. I always carry two very sharp knives. Most of the time, one is not enough. The only knife I have used so far that lasted through an entire elk is a Helle. And I have a bunch of knives. Gary

    • Ron Roettger
      Member
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      Post count: 52

      Gary, Thanks for the info. Along with 2-3 knifes I will bring a saw, rope for holding legs back, 8X8 foot plastic sheet to lay meat on to keep it clean? meat bags, Flash lights, head lamp, pack, and game cart if needed. Any thing else for the processing in the field part?

      Thanks for the help. Ron

    • Chad Sivertsen
      Post count: 84

      I carry two knives also, one is a fillet knife for boning. And yes a Helle knife can skin an elk without sharpening. I sold Helle for a while and some of the experiences related to me by customers were interesting. I think the best on was doing two moose without sharpening. Knife usage skills are a factor.

      Have some wet wipes and a few paper towels in your pack, handy for cleaning up.

    • Ron Roettger
      Member
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      Post count: 52

      Hi all, My hunt is now changed to a week sooner.

      Because of a work schedule change, (I now work every 3rd weekend rather than every 4th) I am coming out Sept. 16th and hunt though the 24th heading home the 25th.

      Will this be a plus or minus to my odds of filling my cow/calf tag? I know weather plays apart, and that can’t be predicted. But how about the rut activity will the week sooner may a differance? I am also bringing along my screen tent, and if I havest an elk in a spot that fetching the tent and setting it up over the elk while cutting it up is possible I may do that to help with the flies/bees have any of you ever tried this? How did it work? Thanks Ron R.

    • wywildart
      Post count: 3

      That should be peak rut. As far as a tent goes to set up I think you will waste a lot of time unless you shoot it close to the road. I have shot plenty of game in warm weather and it is essential to get the skin off and cut up in game bags and put in the shade under some trees or what ever creates shade. I dont think you will even need a tarp. Dont bother gutting just start skinning on the side that is not to the ground cut front shoulder, hind end, and backstrap out. Push guts to the side reach in and cut out inner loin. Place all meat on the hide to keep it clean. Now the animal will be lighter and easier to flip to the other side and repeat. Then just get meat in game bags and start packing. You can do all this with out a saw. I usally work by myself and can have a elk ready to pack out in 45 min to an hour. I think you will waste valuble time if you go back to camp to get stuff you frankly just dont need.
      I hope this helps Scott.

    • David Petersen
      Member
      Post count: 2749

      I second Wywildart. That’s precisely the fastest, cleanest and easiest way for one man to field dress an elk — no ropes or pullys needed. Carry what you need to get that animal quartered, preferably boned-out (spoilage usually starts adjacent to heavy bones, which have high bacteria and hold heat), bagged and in the shade. Wear cheap dishwashing gloves to keep the yellowjackets from biting your hands and ignore the rest. My elk hunting pack weighs 25-35 pounds depending on how much water, food and extra cloths I have to carry, and ALWAYS includes two knives, a coarse and fine sharpener, at least two really big heavy-duty game bags, a folding bone saw, gloves and enough light and batteries to last several hours if I kill right before dark. That’s all that’s necessary, and it’s absolutely necessary, and every minute counts. Every time some clown kills an elk then starts looking for someone who knows how to deal with it, I wish there was a law that anyone who goes out unprepared to honor the animal by making the best of the meat should lose their hunting privileges. There is no lack of good info readily available. My long-winded way of saying Wywildart has it right and try not to obsess on extra junk someone says you need, like a game cart, screen tent, weird specialized cutting tools, etc. Just good sharp knives and good game bags and familiarity with how to do it. That is prime time. Good luck, dp

    • Ron Roettger
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      Post count: 52

      just found out on the computer that I also drew my Doe/fawn deer tag for the same area. For another $48.00 I thought it worth it.

    • David Petersen
      Member
      Post count: 2749

      You could easily spend that much in an hour on a mediocre meal out for one person. I buy every resident tag I can get my hands on. Money well spent whether used or not. The biggest muley I’ve ever killed, nice 4×4 buck but no monster, I was able to pack out in a single load of boned meat, around 60lbs, about the same as one bull elk hindquarter. The only downside to killing a deer during elk season is that it will take time away from hunting elk. dp

    • Ron Roettger
      Member
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      Post count: 52

      I was looking at the WY F&G web site I can buy a leftover pronghorn doe/fawn tag for another $48.00. For the same area. Since I will be hunting the Blackhills/plains edge and have seen Elk, WT & MD, and pronghorns in the area( I have only hunted pronghorns one time never got one) I think I will get the tag “just in case” I get a chance at one. I dont plan to take time from the Elk to hunt pronghorns. But if a shot falls into my lap I would be thilled to get a pronghorn. Or if things went real well and I filled the elk and deer tags and had some of my 8 day hunt time left it would be fun to hunt more. “a guy can dream!”

    • Ron Roettger
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      Post count: 52

      I waited to long! Went to the website at noon today and all the pronghorn tags for the area I am hunting were sold. Elk and Deer it is.

    • Ron Roettger
      Member
      Member
      Post count: 52

      I was wrong “glad my wife does not look at this site, she thinks I am always right” There are still doe/fawn pronghorn tags left they go on sale later this month. I will be on line to get one.

    • Ron Roettger
      Member
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      Post count: 52

      left over Doe/Fawn pronghorn tags went on sale at 8:00 DMST today I had to do training with new empoyees until 9:30 DCST rushed home after and still got a tag for $34.00 for the same area as my Cow/calf elk and Doe/fawn deer tags. Now I just need Sept. 16th to get here so I can go hunting. Been shooting alot. Not much this week. One of the hottest week ever in NW Wisconsin it is 94 degees now at 6:45 pm 80% Hum.
      It is going to get a little better tomorrow so my wife and I are going to go to the club and shoot our summer league scores. Take care Ron

    • Ron Roettger
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      Post count: 52

      Been shooting alot, broadheads are sharpened, gear is ready, got landowner permission lined up. Will finish loading the jeep and trailer this Thursday night, coolers Friday am on the road by 4:30 am 12 hour drive camp set up by 6 pm. short scouting trip/hunt from camp then 8 mores days to hunt. Will up date after the 25th.

      Take care all, Ron

    • Ron Roettger
      Member
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      Post count: 52

      I went, I hunted, did not get anything, but had a great time!

      attached file
    • David Petersen
      Member
      Post count: 2749

      That’s the way it usually goes, Ron. I have only sympathy for the man who returns meatless from a hunt and feels angry. Disappointment is expected, but displaced anger is ulcerous. So long as we have places where a man without much means can hunt, there will always be a next year. Hallelujah!

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