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ABC's of Elk Scouting Part 2 - "Remote Scouting"

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ABC's of Elk Scouting Part 2 - "Remote Scouting"

Postby WapitiTalk1 » 11 14, 2015 •  [Post 1]

Part 2 of this award winning Elk Scouting series ;) . As the 2015 elk season is starting to wind down, thoughts of next year's scouting and hunt plans are already starting to formulate in my head. Remote map work, tracking deadlines for special permit applications, scouting trips, deploying game cameras, locking in hunting partners, working out shared gear lists with buddies, personal gear inventory/prep, etc., are all part of the efforts that culminate in a successful hunt IMO. A big part of my annual elk hunt preparation involves "remote scouting" utilizing both hard copy maps, and, all the super cool internet map software available. Let's talk about the remote scouting/map work for pre-season elk scouting. Bear in mind this involves more than just throwing a dart at a map of an elk state and saying, "yep, that's where I'm gonna hunt". I'll start by saying much of the best start up information comes from area game biologists, harvest statistics (not that I only hunt the best statistical area by any stretch), USFS Ranger District intel, and of course any other folks from a target area that are willing to share some information. OK, now that you've narrowed your initial search down to an area or two..... what is recommended/involved in remote scouting map work to maximize your odds of hunting where there are some wapiti?
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Re: ABC's of Elk Scouting Part 2 - "Remote Scouting"

Postby Swede » 11 14, 2015 •  [Post 2]

Phantom16 wrote:Bear in mind this involves more than just throwing a dart at a map of an elk state

Huh? What else is there? Isn't that how we all do it?
I also like to talk with friends and others interested in elk hunting. I used to visit a few minutes with loggers when I could. I think loggers are just about extinct on National Forest land, but it was always interesting to hear what they had to say. They often see critters when they come to work at zero dark thirty or before. They see elk and elk sign around their logging areas. Loggers were often helpful.
When sitting here at my computer, I like to find identified springs, and then look at G.E. for nearby bedding areas. I don't pay a lot of attention to aspect. I don't care if the spring or bedding area is on a north slope, or south. I am checking out habitat. Benches, in good cover are more interesting to me than aspect.
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Re: ABC's of Elk Scouting Part 2 - "Remote Scouting"

Postby saddlesore » 11 14, 2015 •  [Post 3]

I don't do much scouting. I have hunted the same areas for so many years that I know where the elk are at. Of the five elk I have killed in the last 6 years, three of them were shot within 50 yards of the others. ( two bulls and a cow). The other two were where I hunt in ML season, but they were in the same general local.
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Re: ABC's of Elk Scouting Part 2 - "Remote Scouting"

Postby Luckyman » 11 15, 2015 •  [Post 4]

I did a 1st time solo archery diy Colorado elk hunt this year. I got a map from startmyhunt.com for a colorado archery hunt to supplement other remote resources. I did get into elk and at least the maps from a biologist reassure you about chosen spots. Of course in Colorado, there seems to be prime elk country everywhere, if you can deal with a few other fellow hunters.
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Re: ABC's of Elk Scouting Part 2 - "Remote Scouting"

Postby Lefty » 11 16, 2015 •  [Post 5]

Im an educator and have finally gotten to the point where I now have much of the summer off, :o from education.While Ill spend time on the internet, Il be setting bear baits, ATV and hke,.. boots on the ground stuff. Not so much "remote"map study
While I was able to hunt moose in the same area during multiple elk hunts I discovered a major situation. Many of the elk hunters were road hunters,.. And the elk didnt spend much time near the roads. According to some of the non archery elk hunters this area isnt hit hard by archers( yeah right). The first two weeks of October I noticed lots of elk and bugling bulls . Down where you would expect elk,.. away from the roads.
By chance I struck up a conversation with a rancher looking for cattle. According to him the elk have been leaving the flats a bit earlier every day because of the pressure,..
I also met a retired FS worker who is a friend of a neighbors,.. he wants to " show me around"

Right now my plan is to really see in August if the elk are patterning up the same ridges from the flats .
Hiking down :D all those ridge lines , and bottoms this summer with my wife picking me up at the very bottom.

While not archery elk hunting, I plan to know the owners of some creek bottoms,. Going to the "remote" county office; saw a nice white-tail buck
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Re: ABC's of Elk Scouting Part 2 - "Remote Scouting"

Postby elkstalker » 11 16, 2015 •  [Post 6]

I like to move around and try new spots, it's one of the ways I like to explore and get to see more of the state. The past five years I have hunted 7 different units/areas for deer and elk, and have been fairly successful. Quite a few of my springtime evenings are devoted to pouring over maps and mapping software, GE, Bing maps, Caltopo, etc. I look for feeding areas, springs, creeks, points I can glass from, elk trails (yes you can see them) from timbered bedding areas out to feed areas, atv trails (my preference is to hunt away from these), old logging roads, topography including benches, steep nasty timbered slopes, saddles and other natural funnels, ridges. I usually get out a few times a summer to scout, so initially I focus on areas I can glass from and see lots of terrain, and hikes I can do to cover lots of ground and locate elk sign (fresh and old). Then when I scout and actually hunt I can focus down and hopefully don't need to cover as much terrain.
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Re: ABC's of Elk Scouting Part 2 - "Remote Scouting"

Postby BrentLaBere » 11 17, 2015 •  [Post 7]

Round 2.....I tried posting a lengthy response yesterday to only have it deleted. I ll make this one a little bit shorter.

Remote Scouting
You have obviously picked your location on a few factors. Like described before, you can discuss this with a biologist, cross reference hunting pressure to harvest statistics to narrow down the search for the right hunting grounds. Along with this search, you may have studied the private to public land ratio broken down throughout the area. Late season hunt? Rifle, bow......the list can go on for different styles and times of year. A few basics I would start with before studying any topo or drooling over upper basin meadows on google earth. Find yourself some road maps of the area you want to hunt. These road maps will show you road and vehicle restrictions. They will also show you road closures (time of year). Another great tool to use for mapping your area out is GPS hunting maps, trax is another great tool. These will show you trailheads and old logging roads for the area. Easy access points.
Now is when you can start laying the foundation of virtual scouting. You have the area picked out and how the road and trail systems work. From the research that brought you to this unit, you have an idea of the amount of pressure from other hunters. You may even know what time of year most hunters are out because you had questioned the biologist. Large trail heads with nice trails leading into the back country are sure nice spots to start. There might even be a campground. Next easy access area would be closed logging roads. Mark these areas in red on your topo map. What I also like to do for a topo map, would be highlighting the trail systems and logging roads of the area. This is an example of a general rule for elk hunting. Highlight these areas a mile or so away from the main road. Thats where most of the hunting pressure will stop. Why I said to highlight the other easy access trail systems into the back country is because of other hunters with the same thought process as you. How do I get miles away from the "road hunters"? Nice looking horse trail.....gets used by many to hike back in and hunt pressured elk off the trail system. So, like I said before, highlight that trail system in red and go about a 1/4 mile to 1/2 mile off of it. So in keeping this shorter and to the point, you should be able to pick up on what I listed above. You picked out all of the spots where most of the pressure will come from.
Other general rules for elk hunting. Where do elk bed? North East facing slopes and 3/4 way the way up (obviously in timber). Where do elk feed? South facing slopes typically and can find food in meadows/parks in the timber. Now on for the water. Difficult to say without knowing the area. This one can be broken down on topos with additional research for snow pack and stream flow. If water is abundant, elk will get water wherever it is.
Security - Food - Water. I believe trophyhill had a thread about these awhile back.
Swede mentioned how he doesnt pay much attention to the north slope vs south slope. Why wouldnt this matter? The reasons I believe this doesnt matter (and why we need to understand where the general rules come from) is because the elk like to be in the shade. They like to bed on flat benches if they can. Elk also like the wind in their favor.

Ive exhausted my time on this post, so to sum it up...

I look for where the most hunting pressure will be during the season. The elk will react to this. So you are eliminating areas where the elk wont be during the season. The next step is to take the information and look for those places you will place an 'X' on your map (bedding areas - feeding areas - wallows - ect). Talk to Indian Summer if you are looking for map reading or destinations to hunt. He has the X and the elk will be there. What I try to do once establishing the 'X' on the map is to mark like areas. You know have a starting point and need to get the boots on the ground.
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