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Insanelupus, lets talk elk.


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insanelupus
Man I'm digging this stuff.  Thanks from everyone that has contributed so far.  I love hearing folks (and reading folks) talking elk.
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  • gselkhunter

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gselkhunter

We kind of got off track here.

After the big bulls leave the cows, late Sept, they look for good food, near water, near thick cover and away from other elk, thick pine here in CO. They are spent and they have little time to rebuild to get ready for winter. The cows that have been in the harem groups will start to get together in big groups. Cows that have not been bred will still be looking for bulls. Now the satellites get to play.

Some of the cows will start down following the green forage; others will stay high and wait for snow to drive them down. The bulls will be the last to leave the high country and it takes about 2’ of snow to make them head down. Winter time is a fight against starvation for elk; this is when they eat what ever they can to survive. Three keys to winning the war with winter; are lots of feed, open water and thermal cover. People talk about north slopes being important places for elk during the rest of the year that takes on new meaning in winter. Thick pine forest will hold heat for the elk at night and they will also use the suns rays to warm themselves. They will move first thing in the mornings to open areas to feed and absorb the suns warmth. With this many elk together the fights over food increase as winter drags on. If food supply dwindles in an area the elk will have to move. Or if bad storms cover the food supply the elk will have to move. Weather and temperature will dictate how elk make it through the winter.

Now I am an archery hunter, so unless we have some rifle hunters to cover hunting the migration I can’t help you much, I am bird hunting. I think the next palce I will go cover used and why.

Gselkhunter

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this thread is killing me I had my MRI yesterday and see the knee surgeon tomorrow.

Beautiful day out 70 and sunny and I'm bedridden with a bum knee.

I've always wanted to go to Colorado, buy and over the counter tag and shoot a elk.  A cow would be fine.

Every time I tried the guy I was planning to go with would back out at the last moment, and my wife would ask me not to go alone ( which was sensible).

Hey GS is there deer in the same spots?

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gselkhunter

Some deer Bobman. Hunt alone, is there another way? Other than Keaton [11yr old son] or Matthew[21yr stepson] I have never done anthing else but hunt alone. Makes my wife very nervous[she made me get a cell phone, but it doesn't work out there]. I have called for other friends of mine and gotten them elk. But it is just me and the mountain and its critters. I keep being told I should be scared cause I am 50. The old saying if its your time, OK.

Gselkhunter

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GS; if most people told me they say Elk on a 60 degree slope, i'd tell them they're full of it. With you being an ex climber, I believe every word.
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gselkhunter

Gonehuntin,

The first time I saw it I was thinking this is sheep country, what are elk doing up here? When I saw it once I started looking for them up there. And I'll be, I started to find them up there on a regular basis. Mind you this is July/August time frame on the really hot days. So I asked a friend of mine in the CDOW and he said, "Oh sure they go up there to cool off in the breeze and it helps keep the flys off."

Gselkhunter

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insanelupus

GS,

I've been reading an excerpt from "Elk of North America; Ecology and Management" Thomas & Toweill (Stackpole Books) and have found it very interesting stuff.  The nice thing is that these folks don't just tell you what elk will do, but also why.  It does fall in line with some of the stuff that Steven Curtis speaks of in his book as well as some of the points that gonehuntin mentioned in his thread.  I like the why part, making it easier for me to sit and have complete conversations with myself as to where an elk will be and I can discuss it amongst myselves!!

This particular excerpt printed up to 31 pages and I've only read about 14.  I am normall a fast reader but find it difficult to read this material as it is written in a very "academic" fashion and for me is tough to read.  Kind of like reading Shakespeare it takes a little time to digest.  I did however order the book from Amazon to keep as reference material.

I'll have to look at my margin notes, but one thing they mention is burns and the nutritional values that it holds for elk.  At what point does a burn start reaching a diluted nutritional basis, comparing equally to surrounding non-burn areas.  Is there a specific time period to check out a burn and then move on to newer burns?

Also, I tend to be finding several single cows during the rifle season here.  Rarely have I during our season (3rd week of October to Thanksgiving) found several herds of cows in the areas I hunt hard, though in other areas I do.  These are all lone cows when I've found them and typically I am finding them in bedding areas.  I thought at first maybe I wasn't seeing the others, but have come to the conclusion that they were indeed alone.  There was mention in the article that "dry" cows (i.e., those without calves) can take on similar attributes of behavior as those of bulls after the rut.  Could it be that they seperate themselves from a herd for some reason in this particular area?  

One more observation.  In other areas that I frequent (but don't hunt as heavy as there is heavy pressure from many other hunters) it is not unusual to see several raghorns and smaller bulls (legal in addition to spikes) running with the cows during our firearms season.  Many times you will hear someone say "They are still in the rut."  After reading this excerpt, I've come to the conclusion that these smaller "satellite" bulls are breeding cows from the 2nd and 3rd estrus.  The bigger bulls have had a free for all (so to speak) during the first estrus and prevented the smaller bulls from breeding.  At which point, percentage wise the bigger bulls have more success at breeding and by the time our rifle season starts, they have lost all the fat stores they can afford to loose. So the bigger bulls are moving to the places of succlusion (such as in gonehuntin's post) to eat more nutritious food.  However these smaller bulls, having plenty of fat stores left, can afford to stay with the cows longer, as they haven't lost their fat stores and can therefore eat the same stuff as the cows, though it's not as high in the fat and protein and minerals the bigger bulls need.  I think this is part of where I have gone awry, in that I've been trying to hunt these "lesser" bulls, thinking they were the mature bulls to the area.  Because I'm not hunting the rut, (usually I grouse and bear hunt during this time of year, I'm not an archery hunter) I'm not seeing the bigger bulls the archery fellows see.  

Now for the million dollar question.  These places of seclusion that bulls choose after the rut (the mature ones we are all after), would it be fair to say, for instance, if a herd of elk work a particular mountain in general, say Mountain A, that the herd bulls for that area are still on Mountain A, just in places of seclusion with better food and the proper cover?  Or do these bulls, once they breed, wonder for miles and miles to reach these places of security.  In my mind, they would stay close, if the appropriate cover could be found.  Which would mean that instead of hunting a particular mountain (as I've done in the past) I may need narrow my focus more (which I did to some extent with limited luck last year) to the micro areas that would really tend to hold these bulls.

Thoughts?  See, giving me reading material was a dangerous thing!!  I am enjoying this though.  Interesting enough, there is some information on moose as well that I had not thought about before that may help in future years when I draw a moose tag!

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gselkhunter

First estrus, Aug 20ish/ second estrus, Sept 15ish/ third estrus/ Oct 10ish, so yes the boys are still trying to breed in your rifle season. But estrus can run plus or minus 10 days. And if a cow isn't bred in the first 3 cycles more cycles are possible, so you could run into Nov. So this can put single cows in one of three brackets, dry or looking to be bred or kicked out of the herd. Because elk are gregarious young bulls will travel with the herd of cows for safety. Maybe still looking for hot cows, but by Nov not likely.

The big bulls start rounding up cow by the begining of Sept and run day and night fighting off the advances of younger bulls. By the end of Sept as I stated earlier the bulls are looking for good food, good water, good cover away from other elk. They are looking for a no pressure zone.

Burns is a type of cover or there the lack of, one of my favorite places to hunt. The timber around burns is very well used by elk it tends to be very thick. The duration of the super rich soil because of a fire will depend on how hot the fire was. We have places from the Hayman fire that were like china and several years later are just starting to get plant life back. I can't remember seeing any data on how long the super richness will last. I know that if you look up studies on the Yellowstone fires they talk about it. But the info I have is the fact that the ground is free of trees so that the pine needles and aspen leaves don't stop ground cover plants from growing. Once canopy cover reaches around 25% you start to loose ground plants.

Keep reading, it is a very good book. It helped me a lot. I got my copy in 91 or 92.

Gselkhunter

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gselkhunter

One of the other things about a hot cow, they are only hot on the average for 12 hours. Even though they may be receptive for 3 days. Also on the norm they drop 2 eggs per cycle, even though the number of twins produced is less than 1 percent. The cow does know when she is hot. The bull knows when she is hot by opening his mouth and testing the air with his Jacob's organ. This is an organ[kind of like a snakes tongue] in the roof of the bulls mouth that detects hormones and pharomones in the air. The whole event of the rut is truely amazing.

Gselkhunter

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Insane, don't miss that video I told you about "Elusive In the Wild" put out by Colorado Fish and Game. It'll explain a lot the book doesn't. It's also done by a biolist as I remember.
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so what happens to a calf of the year if I shoot a cow can they survive through the winter on their own or not?
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gselkhunter

Don't you worry about that calf! Those little elk are as tough as mom. They will join the herd and move on down to the wintering ground with the herd.

Gselkhunter

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thats good to know for some reason thats always bothered me, same with fawns.

I hate to see them without momma with all the coyotes around here.

Nature can be cruel.

A couple of my EP pups made the mistake of getting too near a fawn last summer and you should of heard the commotion. They came running out of the brush with a big doe on their tail, it was pretty funny. That doe was so worked up she chased them right up to me in ankle high grass. I had to yell at her to get her to stop. I was beginning to worry she was going to kick my butt also :D

And unlike the eps I had no chance of outrunning her...

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insanelupus

bobman,

I have several friends that absolutely refuse to shoot does with yearlings.  They tell me the yearling will die if the doe is gone.  We've shot does for years on our place in Missouri and I've yet to find where a yearling sans doe has had any problems.  By the time hunting season rolls around they are full functioning on their own and aware very much on how to be a deer.  Most yearlings that meet harm would do so with or without the deer present.  Let's face it, yearlings are pretty naive.  But they learn quickly.

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