An impressive trophy Rocky Mountain Elk is the dream of many hunters. Your pro elk hunting guide usually lives in and scouts the elk herd in his given area, so they are the best source for insights on successful Elk Hunts. As grandpa said, PPPPP (Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance) These are just some basic pointers to keep in mind to ensure you have phenomenal elk hunts:
Off season scouting is imperative for successful Elk hunts. If you are unable to scout your hunting area, you may be dependent on your pro hunting guide to make sure they know the elk herd's feeding areas, bedding areas and travel routes. Make sure they have this covered! Your elk hunt depends on it!
Spot and stalk is usually the method of hunting for Rocky Mountain Elk Hunts. Spot and stalk hunters should be in reasonably good physical condition. Even if you are a fit person, hiking in higher altitudes can be quite taxing. Prepare for your Elk hunts by getting in peak physical condition, hiking outside and up an incline if possible. (Check with your physician before engaging in strenuous exercise). Another tip is to hike in the boots you plan to take on your elk hunt. This will break in the boots and get your feet prepared as well.
Using a Bugle Call or cow call is oftentimes used to attract the largest bull Elk. Study the most effective Elk calling techniques used in the area you plan to hunt. Your pro elk hunting guide should be able to instruct you in this. If your hunt hunt is fully guided, your guide may have this detail covered. When a bull elk bugles, he is advertising for a sweetheart, not a fight. Sometimes he may bugle if he has been rejected by a potential mate. And other times, bulls answer each other, attempting to show dominance. It may seem that a large bull elk would sound off with a echoing bugle, but that not ALWAYS the case. Sometimes larger, older bulls don't sound the way they look. During elk hunts, quality optics are vital.
Just as you should be in good physical condition, your elk hunting equipment should be also. Put careful thought into what gear you will need. Start at your head with proper binoculars and go down to your feet, considering lightweight and protective foot gear. And remember to be in good practice with your weapon. Shoot often and from various distances, whether you plan to use a gun or a bow, so it is like second nature to you. Traveling with your rifle can effect your scope and accuracy of your weapon, so sight in and practice before leaving for your elk hunt.
Never hunt alone, especially in unfamiliar territory. Take a GPS if you have one, but for backup, take a compass and topo map. Yet another reason to hire a pro elk hunting outfitter or guide!
Drink a lot of water. Not cokes or coffee, but water. This will not only keep you hydrated, but also cut down on altitude sickness and headaches during Elk hunts.
Successful Elk hunts start with daily habits you may not have thought about. First, address the phenomenal ability of a Rocky Mountain Elk to 'wind' a human. NO SMOKING, and some people even avoid coffee prior to a elk hunt. What are you washing your hunting clothes in? Is your deodorant scented? Do your hunting boots, well, smell like hunting boots? Even your eating habits can contribute to alerting the big bulls of your presence.
In addition to covering your scent, there are hundreds of products designed to attract the elk to your area. Find out what works best for the time of year you are planning your hunt. Store you hunting clothes in a large plastic bag to protect them from camp cooking odors. Some hunters actually put a small amount of dirt in the bag, and a few apples, to disguise the scent. Also, if your guide our outfitter believes it to be effective, consider using elk attractant. These can be effective during the rut.
Leave the camp early, and stay in the stand late. Beat the competition to the hunting area, and don't be in a hurry to get back to camp. The hunters arriving later than you may serve as a driving force, moving the elk to your area. Elk travel through the day, so don't assume they are done moving early. If they are feeling pressured, the will be traveling to safety to bed. If you are already there, you'll have prime opportunity for a trophy bull elk!
Hunting the Elk Rut is PRIME TIME Be ready to move to higher ground to track the big bull elk. Bigger bulls typically move to higher elevations following the rut to recover. Unless you are just looking for elk hunts for meat - then a tender cow would be the best bet.
If it is extremely cold while you are hunting, that may increase herd movement. The elk require more food when it is cold, and they will need to move around to find it. It may not be as fun for you, but the reward of a trophy bull elk will be more than worth the brief discomfort of a cold elk hunt.
Caring for your trophy elk: Your pro elk hunting guide will be knowledgeable in this area, but talk to your local taxidermist about how much cape (hide) you will need if you plan on mounting your trophy elk. You will actually need a lot more cape than you think you'll need to get a full shoulder mount. If you are planning on tanning the hide, the cuts will be totally different. Know what you want to do with the elk before you bust out your knife. Always keep the animal as cool as possible while transporting. Elk is a healthy and delicious meat to eat. Check into recipes and marinating techniques from chefs experienced in how to properly prepare elk.
We hope this information is helpful for your elk hunts - and in all your hunting adventures! Techniques and terrain may change, but the ingredients for successful big game hunts are usually very similar.