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First Time Elk Hunt

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First Time Elk Hunt

Postby Swede » 04 13, 2020 •  [Post 1]

So you have an idea you would like to go an a real elk hunt. Maybe you have been watching videos or watching some on YouTube. What are you going to do? Let me start you out with a few tips that I think will give you a better chance of filling your tag. I know you can go out west and get a lot of good photos and the experience may be priceless, but you can save yourself about $700, plus the cost of hunting specific items if all you want are pictures. Anyone that buys a tag wants to fill it.

So here are some ideas:
Learn the area you want to hunt. Go on Google Earth, Acme Mapper etc. and get a sense for the area and its size. Having twenty to thirty square miles to look over is not too big. Elk are not Whitetail.
Look over the area for roads, trails, water, ridges, saddles and other features that can focus elk movement. It just may be a fairly narrow stand of timber that is a travel corridor between two larger blocks of timber.
Find travel routes for yourself. That may be closed roads or trails.
Maybe you can find elk on G.E. just by looking over the area.
Come up with a hunt plan. See below for my best tip on coming up with a plan for a new hunter or someone new to the area.
I know some will tell you that you need to become an expert elk caller, but how can you become an expert calling a critter you have never dealt with? For your first trip, buy one cow call and leave it in your pocket until you hear an elk. If you cannot get close enough by stealth, give out one little chirp. Then put it back in your pocket and wait.
Now your chances are up to about 5% for success. The average is about 10%-12% but remember you ae going for your first time, and you are new even to elk hunting. You may be overwhelmed by the immensity or elk country and the scarcity of elk even in good elk country.
I know you are not rich, or you would start on a guided hunt if for no other reason than you could get a feel for elk hunting before you went out on your own.
I would not go it alone on that first hunt. My fear is that you will be overwhelmed with the scope of things, and soon be burned out. The logistics of doing everything on your own are challenging for even an experienced elk hunter. Elk Hunting is not just leaving the house in the morning and driving or walking to the wood lot.
Here is another item: Contact Heading West Hunt consulting. As far as I am concerned that is a better investment than camo, a bugle, or a range finder for anyone that does not have significant experience, or if you have a ton of experience and want a new area. I would hate to put out over $1,000 only to find out my area was good five - ten years ago, but is now overrun with wolves. I am reasonably sure Hunting West does not have hunt plans for every place in the Country. I doubt Joe has one for the Tioga unit in Oregon. Just a guess, but if you work with him, he can set you up with the best possible opportunity to get an elk that meets your expectations. Remember, if your expecting a 360 class bull, your chance may be I in 10.000 or worse. If you will accept a cow it will be much better. Still it Is your hunt.
Also get in as good of shape as reasonable. You do not have to be a super athlete, but being able to get out of your sleeping bag and on your feet the second morning, and so on will make hunting success much more likely.
If you are interested in a guided hunt, Joe at Hunting West can get you a good start there too. This post is simply my attempt to get new elk hunters started off on the right path. If anyone one can help out here, feel free to join in the conversation.
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Re: First Time Elk Hunt

Postby Tigger » 04 14, 2020 •  [Post 2]

I will spend a wee little bit of this first timer's money by requesting, not suggesting, but requesting, they buy OnX Hunt. You can put the chip in your GPS or buy the annual subscription for your phone. I highly recommend the phone route. This is a tool that is an immense help in navigating the backcountry....an IMMENSE help. It will also show you an aerial/topo so you can read the country with less effort and it provides a level of safety in that you can find your way back (provided you drop waypoints and use the track feature).

Secondly on gear, get good boots suitable for mountain use. Break them in. You can be in great shape, but blistered up feet will stop you from effectively hunting.

Thirdly, you don't need to spend an outlandish amount on clothing, but ditch the cotton and get some synthetic and/or wool. Wearing the wrong clothing can be uncomfortable and in the wrong conditions even dangerous.

Fourthly, buy Elknut's playbook. You will learn elk vocalizations. You will understand what they are saying. Regardless if you choose to call to them or not, this is a great book to learn about elk.

Fifthly, I second Swede's recommendation to buy a hunt plan from Heading West. It will really shorten your learning time and put you in a position for success. Many, many midwestern and eastern hunters think they can just do it on their own with little or no preparation. heck, you shoot a whitetail every year!! You will find that you cannot. Either you spend 100s of hours preparing and then need a lot of luck or you call Joe. those are your options. Well guided is an option too, but a lot more $$.

Lastly, you may think this is a one time shot or a once in every 5 year thing. It is not. You will become hopelessly addicted. There is no known cure other than getting into the elk woods. You may resort to stealing Gramma's homemade pies to sell to feed your addiction. Which is fine with me, I am not judging!
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Re: First Time Elk Hunt

Postby Lefty » 04 14, 2020 •  [Post 3]

Lots of great info
from Swede and Tigger
But just to tos in some "Stuff"

Swede wrote:

So here are some ideas:
Elk are not Whitetail.
Elk are not Whitetail. :oops:

Maybe you can find elk on G.E. just by looking over the area.
So what,.. ThatGE picture was taken in June

Come up with a hunt plan. See below for my best tip on coming up with a plan for a new hunter or someone new to the area.

For your first trip, buy one cow call and leave it in your pocket until you hear an elk. Then put it back in your pocket and wait.
Best advise so far :lol:


You may be overwhelmed by the immensity or elk country
Thats why We moved to elk country I was so impressed


not go it alone on that first hunt.
You dont know what you dont know


Contact Heading West Hunt consulting. As far as I am concerned that is a better investment than camo, a bugle, or a range finder for anyone that does not have significant experience, or if you have a ton of experience and want a new area.
The sdvise could be much better than all of Sweded posts combined,,,Sorry swede couldnt resist
But going with very experienced hunters goes a long ways. My first year I was at a trail head with a couple guys that killed well over 100 elk between them In Canada, Us and Soviet Union The other family had hunted this area For generations. My father in law had killed lots of big game in North America and Africa, And it wasnt luck that we killed elk that year.


360 class bull,
( kill any elk first !)


If you will accept a cow it will be much better.
( More good advise from Swede 8-)


Also get in as good of shape as reasonable.
(Yep!!!)

If you are interested in a guided hunt, Joe at Hunting West can get you a good start there too.
( Swede Your batting 100)
.
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Re: First Time Elk Hunt

Postby Lefty » 04 14, 2020 •  [Post 4]

One thing I can add. Elk camp can be a great family outing. My wife has gotten to the point she will demand that I go hunting and sometimes expect to be brought along :D


Tigger wrote:I will spend a wee little bit of this first timer's money by requesting, not suggesting, but requesting, they buy OnX Hunt. You can put the chip in your GPS or buy the annual subscription for your phone. I highly recommend the phone route. This is a tool that is an immense help in navigating the backcountry....an IMMENSE help. It will also show you an aerial/topo so you can read the country with less effort and it provides a level of safety in that you can find your way back (provided you drop waypoints and use the track feature).
Know how to read maps

Secondly on gear, get good boots suitable for mountain use. Break them in. You can be in great shape, but blistered up feet will stop you from effectively hunting.
buy proper footwear My daughter wears $100 Solomon cross-trainers that fit her correctly ( in warmer weather)


Thirdly,
get some synthetic and/or wool. , wrong conditions even dangerous
. So much can be bought as daily wear not special hunting gear. End of season clearance sales can save a pile of money


Fourthly,
Elknuts Playbook is making me so much more effective in the woods.


Fifthly,
I second Swede's recommendation here we go agreeing with Swede
Many, many midwestern and eastern hunters think they can just do it on their own with little or no preparation. heck, you shoot a whitetail every year!! You may never know why you didnt get your elk.

.

Lastly, you may think this is a one time shot or a once in every 5 year thing. It is not. You will become hopelessly addicted. There is no known cure other than getting into the elk woods. You may resort to stealing Gramma's homemade pies to sell to feed your addiction. Which is fine with me, I am not judging!
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Re: First Time Elk Hunt

Postby WapitiTalk1 » 04 14, 2020 •  [Post 5]

All good stuff above (well, except for the Indian Summer thing.. I’ve heard he prefers rum over bourbon :? ). Learn about elk! That doesn’t come easy.... it more often than not, surfaces from just getting out and into them time after time. It is well worth the time, effort, and redundancy tho.
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Re: First Time Elk Hunt

Postby Indian Summer » 04 15, 2020 •  [Post 6]

Wow thanks for the kind words guys!


Swede your first words are “Find the area you want to hunt”. Then it goes on to “learn your area”. Then it goes to “come up with a hunt plan”. Those are three pretty big statements easier said than done. I’d like to say anyone can do those things. That’s probably true but the realities of elk hunting, both physical and mental, means that some hunters just get discouraged before they cross those three lines. Having some time and a little money, more importantly the right partner to make it through the tough times when the learning curve is steep isn’t something that everyone pulls together. Going several seasons and not killing an elk, or maybe seeing very little often leaves guys not much further ahead than their first year. Can anyone do it? Probably. How long it will take them and will they give up first is the question. It can take several seasons to zero in on a place worth calling home.

It’ll definitely take at least three seasons to gain enough knowledge of the area to gain the confidence you need to believe that every day can be the day you punch your license. So what I do in selling DIY hunt plans isn’t just provide the knowledge for hunters to have a plan they can use with confidence... basically I just save people 3-5 years of valuable time. It’ll take two or three times as many years to become an experienced elk hunter.... but that process doesn’t even begin until you are hunting a decent population of elk in a good huntable area. Otherwise what do you have to learn from? My plans aren’t cheap. But as I said included in their value is the time and money it saves people. Even clients with a hunt plan in their hands still have to study up on Google Earth and look at topos. But without boots on the ground how does a new hunter even know if they are looking at an area worth investing that computer time in let alone putting all their chips on come hunting season?

My history with elk elk hunting is pretty unique. I started out the same as anyone else. My first two hunts were guided. I saw one cow on the first hunt which was archery and zero elk on the rifle hunt after that. Then I went to DIY. By then I was at least somewhat aware of what the mountains were made of. My first bull came from an area no longer worth hunting for various reasons. That bull was like piling firewood ten feet high on a fire and the wind picking up and fanning it to a blazing inferno. I got good at it. Years later I was running printing presses and due for a change. I called an outfitter I knew and asked lots of questions about outfitting. I needed to know the process and requirements to become licensed and own a business. He jumped at the chance to hire me as a guide and I had a great first season in the business doing as well as any of his more experienced guides. Albeit I had lots to learn about horses and mules. Guiding confirmed my thoughts that I wanted to become an outfitter and eventually I did. That’s where the time I was able to spend getting an education on every aspect of elk hunting went to a level that most hunters aren’t lucky have. My outfit was all back country. One end had pressure from the road and the other saw none. A great scenario for learning public land elk. I would live in the area from August until pulling camps in December. That’s comparable to a crash course, or maybe a college education on elk hunting. 12 years of that and I graduated! Lol

During that time I not only learned how to find and kill elk but I also met some great people. Guys who guided for me and moved on to guiding elsewhere after I sold the business. I decided to visit them and put my skills to the test in new places. I found out that there was great elk hunting in other places and also that I could apply lessons learned to new places. All the while for 35 years I had been covering ground looking for elk and having fun exploring. Then one day a light bulb went on! I cannot possibly hunt all of these states/areas so why not offer them to other hunters in a nice little package and maybe I can cover my own license and gas money. There were questions. Would anyone be interested? Would guys be able to take my information and get the job done? So far so good. And guess what? I am still learning. Not only from my own hunts but from feedback from my clients. I love it!

When I think about how green I was in the beginning and what a new elk hunter has to learn it makes me take a deep breath and exhale thinking whew!!!! That’s a lot of stuff! But if it makes anyone feel any better I believe that bull elk are easier to kill than whitetail bucks. You just need to fund that spot where they are and then put a little time in.

And I agree with Swede that nobody here can look me in the eye and say their memories are the same with or without an elk. If you are a hunter you are a hoper. There’s nothing wrong with that.

All of that said I hate to say it but according to the law of averages I’m due to get skunked this year. I never have over confidence. No matter what I know I’m still just a two legged human, not even a dot on a map of elk country, and it will require 110% of what I can muster to get the job done. But to enjoy that harsh reality and welcome the challenge is to be an elk hunter. Like all of us I just get dressed, load my pack, and start putting one foot in front of the other. I wish this whole stay at home thing took place during elk season. We’d all have the time to do it right. Time.... that’s a big factor. Probably the biggest along with mental toughness.
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Re: First Time Elk Hunt

Postby Swede » 04 15, 2020 •  [Post 7]

Indian Summer wrote:Wow thanks for the kind words guys!


That does not mean I will not argue with you even though everyone knows I rarely engage in any disagreement.

As a hunter I used to figure it took me four or five season to get acquainted with the area, hunter activity and the elk to have a good idea where I needed to go, when. I was always behind, and only got an elk every three or four years. I hunted very hard just to be that successful and got lucky. It helped to have a cow tag in my pocket some seasons.
Here is a list of priorities that I believe reflect what it takes to be successful. I am not including equipment or proficiency in use. That has to be a given that you the hunter can shoot well. Being in reasonable shape are another given.
1. Know the area. As Indian Joe mentioned you can't learn elk if you are not in an area where they are.
2. Learn where you can find elk at different times. Those rascals move around, and just because you saw them in one location on day one does not mean they will stay there. Where did they go?
3. Learn elk habits. Know when they feed, travel and where the go. This changes from season to season. If I ask Joe for a hunt plan for August I can't just translate it to a good late October hunt. You should invest in another hunt plan. Some year I may want to take in a Montana rifle elk hunt. With the experience I have, I know it will save me a whole lot of time and money just to buy a good plan. I am too cheap to spend time and money to figure it out on my own.
4. Know where to be for my style of hunting. The tree stand hunter may not want to be where the spot and stalk hunter is at. The same goes for the caller.
5. It seems everyone on these forums wants to be the Pied Piper of elk. To me that needs to be the last thing you focus on. It is like the guy that wants to be a pilot, but does not want to learn to take off and land before he goes into the skies with an F18 to engage enemy bogies.
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Re: First Time Elk Hunt

Postby Indian Summer » 04 15, 2020 •  [Post 8]

Spot and stalk country is really nice for tree stands. The semi openness means bottlenecks with saddles everywhere. I have a spot where a spring pops up in a high grassy meadow where water is otherwise scarce. It’s Swede’s dream spot although you need to stay in spike camp if you want to be there early and late. You’d only need to do that for maybe 4 days though.

As far as them moving around and “Where did they go?”... When I say there are elk in my area it means that somewhere in about 3 square miles they are doing their thing. That’s what I call resident elk. Those 3 miles range in cover from pretty darn open to solid timber and from about 7000 ft in elevation to 9500. I cannot possibly hunt both ends in the same day. So I have it divided into about 4-5 hunt areas. They are there from summer to beyond the end of rifle season making their adjustments as needed. And by God if you hunt all of them you WILL see bulls.

I have other spots that span 4-5 square miles but the areas can be hunted from one base camp with a spike camp making you more efficient. If you can’t say for sure that there are a huntable number of elk in an area that big after truly checking it out you should relocate.
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Re: First Time Elk Hunt

Postby saddlesore » 04 15, 2020 •  [Post 9]

Different philosophy here. Each season I know at least one stupid elk will walk by me if I persevere.

Last year,after I walked about a 1/4 mile, I sat down, blew a cow call and a really, really, stupid 2 year old RAN out of the timber and stopped less than 5 yards looking at me. Bang! Meat in the freezer
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Re: First Time Elk Hunt

Postby Indian Summer » 04 15, 2020 •  [Post 10]

Persevere... same philosophy! And you knew there were elk in there somewhere in there Saddlesore!
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Re: First Time Elk Hunt

Postby Lefty » 04 21, 2020 •  [Post 11]

And I agree with Swede that nobody here can look me in the eye and say their memories are the same with or without an elk. If you are a hunter you are a hoper. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Yeah yeah Im going to assume! You mean your own elk on the meat pole is better than a hunt without an elk on the meat pole
Of course the memory will be different ,.. now with or without its a different hunt. But One ( some ) can still have the most incredible memories and need not bring a kill home.
I dont go wild( wrapping the putter around the tree) when I mess or miss. And believe me Ive had some real dozzies.. And I didnt need to make the fish bigger to make the story better. And we can have incredible hunt memories that dont end with our meat or horns in the truck.
I would guess with the characters on this forum most of us have a memory of some hunt was making it home alive.
Maybe I was raised different and maybe my wife too,.. but the meat or horns dont need to define the hunt,.. even more so as we get older
When I was a kid we had a fellow go with us to Saskatchewan deer hunting .In his younger days he was a real killer, hunted Alaska Wyoming and Minnesota yearly in the 50 and 60s
He bought three deer tags, And never left camp he did set up a few times within sight of camp, but never hunted. He cooked,.. Now that might be an extreme. but he still went on" the hunt". I was thirteen . My first experience that you dont need to kill something to have a good hunt. He told me befor his passing that hunt was one of his most memorable and enjoyable hunts
My dads last year spent a lot of time in the stand,.. never shot,.. but he watched deer every day.
A goose hunting partner brought a brother in law, had never hunted or even fired a gun. I can tell you his memories were on the 125 geese maple-leafing from above onto us. Mine too,.. and how excited he was. I shared that story dozens of times, And for years years I skipped my "first" of that day , my kill was momentous but nothing like experiencing that fellows experience f geese "landing on him" I attached that fellows experience was more memorable to my first not the other way around.
Some of my greatest hunts were youth hunts, or hunts with my kids, or even decoying waterfowl in the spring,,..
Or maybe cutting off that sturgeon you wernt going to land anyway even with your big Penn and 80LB line, Or a chance to club the seal with your salmon in its mouth 8-)



The big one can get away; or you dont need to have horn in the back of the trucks and the memory , yes it will be different but can still be great

I dont recall how many geese we killed that day,.. in all likelihood
5802.jpeg
I had my limit,.. or didnt! But when I see that pic I can still smell marshmallows and when I smell marshmallows I remember that hunt
Even if we would have killed elk. my best memory of this year was the moment my grand daughter exclaimed that a bull had just bugled back at us
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Re: First Time Elk Hunt

Postby Lefty » 04 21, 2020 •  [Post 12]

Indian Summer wrote: ,,,,,Those 3 miles range in cover ,,,,,,,, if you hunt all of them you WILL see bulls.
......
I may have been too lucky my first elk hunts
Took me a while to understand that regarding elk

Indian Summer wrote: a huntable number of elk in an area

I have one tag only need one elk :lol:
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Re: First Time Elk Hunt

Postby Elkhunttoo » 04 21, 2020 •  [Post 13]

Don't get OnX...get basemaps jmo get the entire nation for the same price as one state with onX
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Re: First Time Elk Hunt

Postby maklik » 04 28, 2020 •  [Post 14]

Sometimes I hunting with deer call. Who has a successful experience with this device like The Best Deer Call | Webproductradar?
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