Wapiti Talk | Elk Hunting Forum | Elk Hunting Tips
 

Scouting: What Do You Look For?

Moderators: Lefty, Swede, Tigger, Indian Summer, WapitiTalk1

Scouting: What Do You Look For?

Postby Swede » 07 19, 2016 •  [Post 1]

When I am scouting, I look for good tree stand locations. If I find what appears to be a good spot(s) to ambush an elk from a tree, I place a trail camera nearby. I really don't care if there are 10 elk in the county or 10,000. If I can find a place that I believe will produce elk, the other things don't matter. After all I just have one tag. A good tree stand will reliably produce. What I look for is evidence of repeated in season use of a spot. I am hunting a 1/4 acre area, and not a whole unit.
Often I hunt by myself, so the pack out is important, especially since I am approaching middle age (69).
Many elk hunters don't use a tree stand. Some of you call, some mostly spot and stalk hunt, etc. What are you looking for on a scouting trip, and can you say the number of elk in your hunting area doesn't matter?
Swede
Wapiti Hunting - Tree Stand Tactics
 
Posts: 6134
Joined: 06 16, 2012

Re: Scouting: What Do You Look For?

Postby lamrith » 07 19, 2016 •  [Post 2]

Swede,
Been trying to use guidance from your book as I learn about hunting/scouting for these smelly jokers. Not many single point water holes were we scouted, was a wet year and every draw seemed to have running water in it so we could not really use waterholes focus points. The area was steep and heavily wooded but we did find some isolated open areas so we put cams out on those isolated open areas as they had typically had convergence of game trails in them. Seems like that is part of scouting is knowing what your game needs and then narrowing down where they are provided those needs in a limited way. Our area lots of shady benches, lots of water, so the open feeding area's drew our focus, and based on game trails the animals as well.

We did find one nice dry&wet wallow location to put some cams up at, both wallows were right next to each other, that spot got two cams placed in it.

We had a few places that we would have liked to place a tree stand, but the terrain was so steep 25-30* grade that any game animal coming from above would be looking down on us even 20-30ft up. :evil: Jury still out on if we will give it a go with a tree stand in any of those places.
'15 Elite E35. 30.5", 67#
100Gr. G5 montecs
Sportsman's Vital Impact 300spine

http://www.pelletpeddler.com
User avatar
lamrith
Rank: Herd Bull
 
Posts: 407
Joined: 07 24, 2014
First Name: Larry

Re: Scouting: What Do You Look For?

Postby Navesgane » 07 19, 2016 •  [Post 3]

The only two bulls I've released an arrow at we're both off a tree rub that I found a day or two prior to setting up there. The first one I found after hearing him bugle around it at dusk. The next day I found his trail and the tree rub were he came out just before dusk and I stuck him. The next year I found a fresh dump right at the base of a fresh tree rub the evening before I shot (and missed) him the next morning. So my early season tactic is to simply find a fresh tree rub and sit off of it. The key I think is to find a 'fresh' rub, one that may just be started and not a tree that is already destroyed. This will be my third year elk hunting so we'll see if it works again.
Instagram @jeff.reilly1
User avatar
Navesgane
Rank: Satellite Bull
 
Posts: 306
Joined: 08 05, 2013
Location: Telluride CO
First Name: Jeff

Re: Scouting: What Do You Look For?

Postby Swede » 07 19, 2016 •  [Post 4]

Larry: I completely understand your dilemma. I just got back from scouting an area that sounds like where you hunt. I have not made up my mind about hunting the area. It has a few good tree stand hunting spots, but they are a long way apart. One is at the head of a drainage. I am thinking about hunting there part of the season. I would like to call in the morning them slip in to my stand after the thermals are rising. Anyway good luck and let us know how you do.
Swede
Wapiti Hunting - Tree Stand Tactics
 
Posts: 6134
Joined: 06 16, 2012

Re: Scouting: What Do You Look For?

Postby stringunner » 07 19, 2016 •  [Post 5]

Repeated use spots from one year to the next during the season. Old sign, trails, rubs, water holes. Feed and cover help aswell. I like looking for rubs because that generally means the elk are around in August and September. I don't sit on rubs but rather trails and water holes that have rubs, trails, old sign and that are near bedding and feeding areas. I can see all kinds of sign where elk are at year around, but that doesn't mean that is where they are during the season. I also like to hunt the same areas from year to year to gather information about whether one spot is good repeaditly from year to year. I have found spots that are great one year but not the next. That is sometimes just part of hunting. A couple years ago there is a stand that had bulls every day for two weeks before the season and then throughout the season, I was lucky that year and arrowed a really nice bull. The past two years however I have not gotten more than 5 pictures of elk each year at this spot. Thus having multiple spots and intricate knowledge of the area is most helpful to me particularly because the elk population is not great. But like Swede says, I only need one.

I agree with Swede (we hunt the same spots together) though see this area changing for the worse each year and I do need to branch out but alas my stubborn side keeps me there as I have invested so much time in learning the area and there are still a few elk running around. After 8+ years though in the same spot, I continue to find new water holes and that too keeps peaking my interest. I have cameras on 3 new water holes this year that I found in May. Swede also adds a few to my maps each year, probably because some of them are further than he wants to hike to in his "middle" age. 8-)
stringunner
Rank: An Elk Nut
 
Posts: 599
Joined: 06 18, 2012

Re: Scouting: What Do You Look For?

Postby cohunter » 07 20, 2016 •  [Post 6]

Stringunner, when you say you feel it's time to move on what do you mean? Is it lower elk quality, fewer quality sightings, changing habitat, increased hunting pressure? What things make you think maybe it's time to try a new area?
User avatar
cohunter
Rank: Rag Horn
 
Posts: 230
Joined: 11 08, 2015

Re: Scouting: What Do You Look For?

Postby stringunner » 07 20, 2016 •  [Post 7]

A combination of greater hunting pressure and yes quantity of elk. I think the hunting pressure is directly related to the declining quantity. My perspective.

The area is large with lots of national forrest ( easily hunted with vast road systems and not difficult terrain) but a huge chunk of it boarders a very large private ranch. The trend lately, past 3-4 years I have noticed/am noticing that as soon as the woods get infiltrated with hunters opening weekend, the majority of the elk seek refuge on the ranch. There are small numbers that migrate back and forth but they are few in number when compared to the several hundred camped on the ranch.

My experience is that if in the first 4-5 days I haven't filled my tag, my chances at encounters with elk greatly decline.

I have also noticed many more hunters in the area than there were in 2005, when I was first introduced to the area. Some years it has been because of fires pushing people in, some years it has been because surrounding units going from bull/cow to just bull (legal to shoot), etc. I think however one of the greater reasons is the amount of hunters hearing about "all the elk" on the ranch and or driving by on the highway and seeing 100+ elk laying in the hayfields. Last year I ran into a group of 4-5 hunters who were told about the ranch and drove 6 hours to hunt along the fence line. I also found a treestand set up on the fence line last year.

I think it's a good enough area for the first week but I think I would do better to have a plan B for the remaining 3 weeks.

Swedes been hunting the area for 20+ years and no doubt has far greater knowledge than I and as such hopefully will chime in as to why he is feeling the need to move locations based on his observations of why the area is changing for the worse.
stringunner
Rank: An Elk Nut
 
Posts: 599
Joined: 06 18, 2012

Re: Scouting: What Do You Look For?

Postby Scoutman » 07 20, 2016 •  [Post 8]

I go scout every June for a week in unit, I hunt. Being from Ga it helps tremendously to scout every year. So far 10 years in same unit. I look for consistent water supply, seeps or springs,etc. Some ponds,etc dry up every year without rainfall or naturally fed sources. Very dry in my unit, no trout fishing,haha. I also scout saddles, funnels, natural travel areas from bedding to feed,etc. I also look for areas with old rubs, droppings from previous year to signal consistent use. Hunt from tree or groundblind but also call and run and gun if elk want to play. More important is just learning new ground to hunt.
Scoutman
Rank: New User
 
Posts: 19
Joined: 08 01, 2014

Re: Scouting: What Do You Look For?

Postby Swede » 07 20, 2016 •  [Post 9]

Stringunner I think you are basically correct on your assumptions. I am not sure how much the numerous hunters play into the situation and how much the cattle do. I believe both are impacting the area adversely now more than ever. Certainly your observation on the need to get-er-done the first week is right on.
Swede
Wapiti Hunting - Tree Stand Tactics
 
Posts: 6134
Joined: 06 16, 2012

Re: Scouting: What Do You Look For?

Postby Lefty » 07 20, 2016 •  [Post 10]

In the past while hunting the desert I looked for track at water tanks,.. filled or dry. I want an idea of what is going on in the area. I also glassed the bedding areas
and can you say the number of elk in your hunting area doesn't matter?
My last year in the desert I spent 17 days patterning a huge crippled bull. I was effectively glassing a 3 1/2-4 mile radius. I never saw another elk in that area about 40 sq. miles. I hunted that one bull. Unfortunately I did find where the wolves killed him. I desperately spent time looking for the skull/rack. everything was gone but some hair, a hoof and droppings.
Where I hunted last year I wanted to be able to call down into the elk, getting to know the wind for calling set-ups,.. I did find a few places for tree stands,.. I even selected the trees for different winds( never hunted the location) This year and last year I scouted to get the know the lay of the land. and how am I going to pack one out when one is down. If lucky i can watch how the elk move through the area, findin bedding locations , maybe feeding and watering. I do get a bit excited finding rubs. And the places I suspect the bulls will be chasing the ladies.
User avatar
Lefty
Wapiti Hunting - Strategy and Tactics
 
Posts: 3641
Joined: 06 25, 2012
Location: Pocatello Idaho
First Name: Dennis
Last Name: H

Re: Scouting: What Do You Look For?

Postby JordanMOFLCO » 07 22, 2016 •  [Post 11]

Water, food, & shelter.

Beyond that, I am looking for trails that have been used year after year.

Then I am looking for natural funnels, draws, saddles, etc. Terrain that concentrates animals in a confined area of travel.

When I find all that I look for signs of past rut activity, rubs, wallows, etc.

Last I am looking for fresh sign, tracks, scat, evidence of browsing and grazing.

Then I get out of my truck and walk 20 yards off the road to set up. LOL! JK on this last bit. :)
Jordan
User avatar
JordanMOFLCO
Rank: New User
 
Posts: 15
Joined: 07 12, 2016
Location: Colorado

Re: Scouting: What Do You Look For?

Postby Scoutman » 07 22, 2016 •  [Post 12]

Forgot to mention, like swede, I don't care about seeing lots of elk, just one. Can't wait for Aug 24
Scoutman
Rank: New User
 
Posts: 19
Joined: 08 01, 2014