Home Forums Campfire Forum Where to start for an elk hunt?

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    • David Fudala
      Post count: 224

      Hey guys,

      I’m just curious here. Been thinkin’ about planning an Elk hunt for myself in a couple years and I’m wondering if any of you would share some tips or advice on where to look into or how to best prepare. I’m not asking for anyone to give up any secret spots or stuff like that, just general input for a first time mountain adventure. I’m mostly interested in what states are easier to get tags in and logistics like that. Gear wise I’m pretty well set as I already do quite a bit of bivy pack hunting. I am always just overwhelmed by the mountains having been all over the country for work and I feel like I will have wasted a life if I never get to hunt the mountain wilderness just once! Thanks! Dave.

    • skifrk
      Post count: 387

      Dave;

      I believe Idaho, Colorado and Montana have over the counter that are available for anyone. In Wyoming they may still require you to have a guide when hunting for elk if your from out of state. As for input, I would pick a state and then pick the brain of the local biologist to help locate herds. After that i would then do some digital scouting of the area with google maps and also get the 7.5minute of an area on paper to study and take with me. Also make sure you know how to use a map and compass or a gps and map since it can be a large area to hunt in. That is a good start, enjoy the memories you create the hunting of elk.

    • David Petersen
      Member
      Post count: 2749

      Standard advice: find out where the ATVs are allowed to go (motorized trails) and go someplace else. Neglect this tragic essential reality of our times and all your other planning is in vain.

    • David Fudala
      Post count: 224

      Sound and simple advice, just the way I like it! I am competent with map, compass and gps navigation so I’m not worried about that but I am definitely going to contact biologists as you suggested. That’s a great idea. I do plan to just try and manuever around herd movements rather than try to become an overnight elk caller so knowing where the animals traditionally move and congregate will be essential.

      And Dave, got a good laugh about the ATV’s but I also realize they are becoming harder and harder to avoid. I will be taking this into account as I research. After all, it wouldn’t live up to my hopes if I could hear a wheeler from my tradbow bivy camp!

    • skifrk
      Post count: 387

      If there are other hunters in the area calling it will not take long for the elk to get call wise, I had that happen to me last year. So I quit calling and found the herd and tried to put a sneak on them. Also hunt with the wind in your face to avoid them smelling you.

    • David Fudala
      Post count: 224

      Got a couple quick follow up questions for you guys. First, what’s a good rule of thumb to follow for adjusting to altitude? I’ve been and worked in higher altitudes before but I’m wondering what I should expect as far as ascending with a loaded pack. Second is equipment related. Since I am still fairly new to traditional equipment, I have worked up to shooting a 50lb longbow. I also have a 60lb recurve but have not developed enough to be consistent and comfortable with that yet. I also seem to shoot the longbow more accurately and I have a hard time switching back to my recurves. My question is how much bow is enough for bigger game such as Elk? I don’t want to be “under bowed”.

      Thanks guys! This is all great stuff!

      Dave.

    • David Petersen
      Member
      Post count: 2749

      Dave, you’ll hear all sorts of ideas on this, and folks do sometimes make clean kills on elk with toothpick arrows and wimpy bows. But having wounded too many when I was younger, these days I want to be positive of a clean humane kill no matter where the arrows hits — heavy front ribs or shoulder are the usual suspects. Also, with bow speeds varying as much as they do these days, poundage doesn’t mean what it used to. My personal rule, shooting an efficient r/d longbow, is minimum of 50# at 28″ or equivalent with an arrow weighing minimum of 650 grains and as much of that as possible up front. Also, even though clean kills are made with multi-blade heads (folks tend to report when their gear works great but quickly forget when it doesn’t), about everyone who has tried it on animals reports my own experience of superior penetration with a good single-bevel two-blade, both in bone and soft tissue. That’s my best advice on gear. Don’t hesitate to postpone your hunt a year if you’re not completely confident with your gear and your shooting. And if you haven’t killed a deer with trad gear, I strongly recommend you get that under your belt first. A bad experience by unprepared folks has put more than one beginner off of trad, when there’s no need for that with proper tuning, gear and prep, always erring to the “over prepared” side.

    • James HarveyJames Harvey
      Member
      Post count: 1130

      Dfudala wrote: Got a couple quick follow up questions for you guys. First, what’s a good rule of thumb to follow for adjusting to altitude? I’ve been and worked in higher altitudes before but I’m wondering what I should expect as far as ascending with a loaded pack.

      Dave, my experienced with altitude is pretty limited, but it took me a good while to acclimatise. As a dedicated lowlander (most of my 30 years have been spent between 0-2000feet) if I was going to go high for a hunt, so I wanted to waste as little time as acclimating, I would be getting into some hypoxi training. Basically you do normal exercise but restrict your breathing somehow. You can buy special masks (for about 80 bucks 😕 http://www.trainingmask.com/products/TRAINING-MASK-2.0.html) or you can just wear a normal dust mask, or breath through a straw.

      If you plan to do a lot of ascent a good exercise is to use one of the tools above (the straw makes you look least like a psychopath) and jump on a cross-country skier xtrainer in the gym (you know the ones, you immediately question the sexuality of any guy you see using them). Just set it to its highest difficulty and go for an hour. That’s a pretty good simulation of working with a heavy pack. With breathing restrictions it’s heinous, but train hard, play easy 😉

      Another option is to do a breathing pyramid. Choose a full body exercise (like a burpee), take 1 breath, do 1 burpee holding your breath … take 2 breaths, do 2 burpees holding your breath.. take 3 breaths, do 3 burpees holding your breath… keep climbing till you can’t do the amount of exercise holding your breath, then work your way back down.

      Neither is a substitute for living at alt, but you’ll be better prepared and quicker to adapt if you do something like that regularly a few weeks out before you go.

    • Troy Warner
      Post count: 239

      I try to get to Colorado at least every other year for a hunt and my experience is that no matter what, you want to be in the best shape you can get in, walk or hike and eventually alternate a lite trot, with at least 1/2 the weight of your loaded hunting pack (what your going to pack in and/or what you hope to pack out) on your back at least 3 times a week, don’t push it to hard the first day or three of your hunt, no matter how good of shape your in your lungs and muscles need at least 1 day usually 2 to acclimate, especially if you are going from under 3000 feet above sea level to 8000 plus feet. Normally “for me” the first 2 days are slow, taking lots of rest breaks, then it seems that I’m able to go much further between breaks and I’m more comfortable.

      Commit the area where you plan to hunt to memory as much as possible using the maps already suggested. IT IS VERY EASY TO WALK OUT OF THE DRAINAGE YOU ARE HUNTING INTO ANOTHER WITHOUT NOTICING IN THE HEAT OF A CHASE…. Took me a day and a half to find my tent and sleeping bag again. 😳 most enjoyable trip to date!!!

      Oh… Remember to practice shooting your bow with all your hunting gear on. I didn’t do that one year thinking “hey I know how this works from years past” and had my one button up shirt pocket flap catch my string and ruin the only opportunity I had for a shot that year. 😳 (Fortunately that arrow was a complete miss)

      Good luck

      Troy

    • David Fudala
      Post count: 224

      Great stuff guys! I don’t know how you guys pulled hunts like this off before resources like this!?!? I have been slowly training myself back into shape for sure. Had catostrophic shoulder surgery 2 years ago and I’m almost back to the condition I was in before my injury. ( The injury was actually the catostrophic part, not the surgery!) Great ideas for the breathing execises and also how to properly ascend into altitude! I could surely see myself overdoing it on the way in from the excitment and burning myself out! Thanks for the bow info Dave, I’m not really “technical” when it comes to the numbers my gear produces. I shoot a 50# Bear Montana, primarily with cedar shafts (full length) and Zwickey Eskimos. Does that sound sufficient or should I wait and strive to shoot something a bit heavier?

      Thanks guys!

      Dave.

    • Troy Warner
      Post count: 239

      Well Dave,

      Going by what Dave P spread out in his response, and I agree with what his assessment of minimum requirements for elk, for your bow- as long as your draw length is 28 inches or longer you have enough bow. For your arrow- with out knowing the weight of the arrow I will go by the basis of my experience with cedar arrows, so, unless you make your own arrows the weight is more than likely under 400 grains and with a 130 grain broad head you would have approximately 530 grn arrow or less and will not be close enough to what I and a few others recommend for an elk weight arrow. If you weigh your shafts and add a broad head of a weight to bring your total to 600 grns or better then I would believe you would be in the ball park.

      Keeping in mind that plenty of elk have been taken with cedar arrows and lighter heads, I also believe that more animals have been wounded or lost using to light of an arrow.

      Others may have different views and opinions on this and maybe some better recommendations, and this is just my opinion.

      Good luck

      Troy

    • David Fudala
      Post count: 224

      Thanks Troy,

      I draw 29″ so I belive I’m ok there? I’m thinking though from the way it sounds that perhaps I should look to a heavier shaft and head when I prepare? I really don’t even want to be marginally close. I want to be sure that in the event I have an opportunity, I will have no second thoughts about making a clean and quick kill. I am a wood arrow junkie for sure so I’m thinking of maybe making some shafts of birch to increase the weight there and perhaps moving up to a 160 grain broadhead? I think, if memory serves, my current ones are 125gr.

    • skifrk
      Post count: 387

      One way to help with acclimation is to make sure you stay hydrated it is very important. I would encourage you to work on increasing the accuracy of your shot in stressful situations before hunting elk. After all they can really get your heart racing when you encounter them. Another thing is to minimize your use of calls, since a lot of others in the woods will make them call wise before you get there.

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