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Insanelupus, lets talk elk.


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gselkhunter

And I have never had a piece of elk or deer touched. The story I was told is leave human scent at the site, coat, hat, something. And it has always worked for me, but I don't have to mess with Griz. Have I just been lucky?

Gselkhunter

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gselkhunter

Cover is one topic that always comes up in seminars. What do they use and why do they use it. The answers aren’t always simplistic and the reasons for that are you find elk from New Mexico to Canada and cover and elevation changes all along the way. The two most widely viewed concepts of cover usage are for security and thermal protection. When Gonehuntin alluded to north facing slopes, he is right elk do use them a lot. With thick canopy cover and cooler temperatures, very desirable place for elk to be. This is a text book answer, but there is an old adage, elk are where you find them. And I have found and remember my stompings are in CO, that elk don’t always use north sides, they don’t always use pines and a lot of the time they are right out in the open. I find elk in, Aspen groves, Jack pines, Lodge Poles, Blue Spruce areas, in Douglas fir and in the openings at timberline. Each has offerings to elk and each is used by elk. For a days hunting would I over look any of these types of cover, no. Would I target one over another, yes. But before I give you that let’s take a look at the make up of these covers.

One of my favorite places to look for elk, timberline, as the trees get shorter and less of them grow here and some of the richest forage is found. Grasses, legumes, sedges make up the daily food consumption of elk. At 11,500’ everything is built to with stand the wind and thin air. Plants are very nutritious at this altitude. What trees there are, are bent to fight the prevailing wind. The two tallest plants above timberline are willows and potentilla [small shrub with beautiful yellow flowers] and both are used as cover by elk. When an elk lies down in these plant they disappear. It takes sharp eyes and a great pair of binoculars to pick them out.

As you head down from timberline you will see a wide array or canopy cover below you. Pines and spruces and firs and aspen and open meadows. Some thickly timbered and some more open. So what are you really looking at as far as the elk use? Well the really thick evergreen cover is great bedding and thermal cover, but not much on the way of feed. The thinner evergreen cover has some feed and if it is close to meadows or aspen stands your feed potential goes up, but thermal cover goes down. Aspen stands are a food store for elk and an open meadow would be about the same.

Your main evergreen [also known as black timber] will be thickest on north slopes as Gonehuntin stated. As you head east or west of that north slope you will see the type cover change. It won’t be as dense; there will be some plant life not just the dirt base and how steep the slope is will have an effect also. East and west sides of mountains have an intermix of covers, some evergreen, some aspen and some open meadows. By the time you walk around to the south side you find less good cover, a lot of open parks. Are there elk in all these places, yes, all the time, no. So how do you pick a place to hunt? Gonehuntin, stated a north slope with water, I have done that. I don’t just want a north slope; I want an avalanche chute that has had the trees cleared. The water coming down will make a great riparian area for elk to feed, water to drink and great cover that works as a thermal barrier. It also presents escape routes for the elk if pressure comes, not to mention clear access to timberline. Because it is an avalanche chute, it will be steep but there will be benches for the elk to rest on. But this isn’t my favorite.

I prefer NE to east slopes, or the east side steep ridges that runs SE from the mountain top. I like pockets of thick evergreen surrounded aspen and open parks. Now these ridges must run to timberline and they must have water. This type of area will allow elk to roam and feed at will. And supply cover for bedding needs. It can be harder to hunt, but that is ok with me. My last elk came out of an area just like this. One thing particular I look for is stands of Jack Pines [for those aren’t familiar with them, they are no more than 6” in diameter and no taller than 20’] so thick you can’t walk through. The elk will push through these and bed in them. I find where they enter and walk the elk trail and glass [use binoculars] the entire stand. I use the two step and glass method in these places. I have stalked to with in 10yds of elk in these stands and I never call in these stands. So that is the type of ground I get to hunt here in CO and I do hunt high and low. I have killed elk high and low. The way I hunt different elevation I will get into next.

Gselkhunter

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when you say they need thermal cover is that true in early bow season or just later in the season when it gets colder?
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gselkhunter

Thermal cover is for heat as well as cold. One of the things that plays into black timber near creeks is humidity. Water takes longer to heat and cool than just air. So it will hold temperature steady longer. And black timber doesn't get sun to the ground to heat it up. Slope will play into that also because of thermals. An elk in August has put on fat and is changing into winter hair, so over heating is real. Elk wallow for a couple of reasons; one is to purfume for the girls the other is temp and bug control. So depending on the temp and weather to answer your question Bobman the answer could yes or no, but usally yes. Give you an example, you start hunting one morning and there is ice or frost on your windshield and the elk are talking up a storm. The next day the temp starts at 50 degrees and you don't hear a bugle all morning, the elk got to warm and are looking for a cool spot so they don't over heat, thermal cover.

Gselkhunter

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And I have never had a piece of elk or deer touched. The story I was told is leave human scent at the site, coat, hat, something. And it has always worked for me, but I don't have to mess with Griz. Have I just been lucky?

Gselkhunter

I never had one touched until we hunted Colorado. The way I see it, if a bear will drag you out of a tent, it'll eat the meat with clothing around it. I found out someother interesting things at the Yellowstone seminar (no matter how much you think you know, you have to go through a seminar to back pack in Yellowstone). In yellowstone they TICKET you for these things: Leaving your fishing vest on shore while you fish, food in it or not. Having ANY kind of food in your tent with you. Having toothpaste in your tent. Toothpaste is one of a bear's all time favorites. Having your food stored closer than 100' from the tent. Having pots and pans in the tent. I'm really glad I got to watch their video; I thought I knew a lot about bear until I did.

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Another thing I've found, especially in Idaho, is that in early season, you follow the cows. The cows need aspen to calf and raise the calfs. If there is no aspen high, they'll be low. If the cow's are still in the lower aspen in Sept., that's where the Bull will be. And me. I hate hunting them in the Aspen. You can't see them. You can't get an arrow through the aspen to hit them. It' hot. I really like it when the herds move from the aspen up higher. It is fun hunting them in there though. Just as you can't see them, they can't see you. If you can't find em' high, go low.

Just listen at night and you'll hear where they are. I found this trend much more prevalent in Idaho than Colorado. In colorado where we hunt, there aren't as many aspen as in Idaho and they were more intermixed on the mountain, so we found elk at all elevations there. They are where they are. But there's usually a reason for it.

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Nothing to add.  Just wanted to say as someone who's always admired elk hunting from afar that the into in here has been awesome, I'm really learning a ton, thanks for posting this.

Jim

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insanelupus

Jim,

I have a feeling these guys are just touching the tip of the iceberg.  This thread should proove to be extremely educational.  Each time someone posts I'm learning something!!

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If we could only go back 25 years..........You guys have access to sooooooo much information now. Twenty five years ago one of my guides walked into the kennel while I was training and said "Look what I just bought from Wendel downtown". He had a bottom line PSE compound bow. I was no archer and had never seen one before. He said "Go get one and we'll go Elk hunting this fall. I did. I practiced all summer, shot fingers, and by fall was deadly to 50 yards.

It was all trial and error those first years. There were no books, no videos, dvd's weren't invented. There were no calls; what we had was the bent copper tube; for grunting we sucked air backwards down our throat. The Elk didn't care; no one hunted them and they'd never heard a call before. We made every mistake hunters could possible make and we learned from every one of them. We learned by putting on many, many miles where the bulls were holding at each time of the day. We learned how Elk sound when they walk through the woods and how noisy they really are. I came so close to a herd once in a thick stand of dog hair pine, that I could reach out and touch them as they walked by but damned if I could get an arrow into one. We learned where and when to call and where not to. We learned to never, ever, call from a spot with no cover to instantly dive into. One of my friends was crossing a 50 yard aspen meadow to close on a bull when he saw a flash of yellow hide in the woods. He dropped to his stomach in a small patch of quakies about 3' high. He let out a grunt with his throat and here come the bull. The bull came on a trot across the meadow and Rick actually had to rise to his knees to stop from being trampled. Three things happened: He rose to his knees, drew the bow and crapped his drawers all at the same time. He let fly the arrow and missed the bull cleanly at less than 15 yards. He grabbed the next arrow from his bow quiver and cut his string near in half with it. The bull got bored and sauntered back into the bush. Next thing I saw, here comes Rick kind of waddling across the field toward me. He got up to me and I asks him "What's up?". Nothin' he says, I just need your spare bow string. I said " OK, but why ya walkin' like that?" Ah, he says, I crapped myself and missed a bull but just lend me your string. Ya got to have your priorities.

The first big advancement came from Jones call, a bugle that looked like a vacuum cleaner hose with a whistle on the end of it. You could whistle and grunt by sucking in air with it. Shortly thereafter we heard the roomer that Elk could be called with ta Turkey Diaphram. I bought one and learned to use it. On the way to trials and back in the dog truck, I'd continually practice and drive the dogs nuts. My wife threw me out until I promised to stop blowing it in the house. But I learned and I kept it a secret. In the Golden leaves of Sept. we started chasing the bulls. I said nothing to my hunting partners and called them in multiple times. I never showed them the diaphram. They cursed and threatened to arrow me if I called them in again. I showed them the bugle; they were pissed and serious. The next massive improvement was Dwight Schue's book on elk hunting. That book changed everything. We sometimes worked 12-15 different bulls a day on public land and we killed and crippled a lot of bulls. I'll tell you guys a little secret: virtually for every two bulls you kill, you'll cripple and lose one. That's the reality of archery elk. They're tough. Some of it's how tough the beast is, some the marginal shots. The hardest thing to learn about Elk hunting is not to wait for that perfect shot. You proably won't get it. Take the first decent shot you're offered, or you probably won't get a shot. They live in some tough places. The other thing is to never worry about how far you are from the road when you get an Elk. First you have to get him.

I'm one of those miserable old buggers that think's there's just too much information out there now. I would not have traded those early years for anything. We had the mountains and the Elk to ourselves and we learned on our own with no help from anyone one or thing how to hunt them. It was fun and I'll regret to my dying, panting last breath, the fact that forever are those days gone.

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gselkhunter

Idaho has elevation? Just kidding Gonehuntin, that is why I posted the cover part as CO and even doing that CO changes drastically from east slope to west slope of the Rocky Mountains. I haven’t been in Grizzly country to hunt, but the Grizzly in Yellowstone has never been hunted since the park was made, so why should they have any fear of man? And they are more aggressive than black bears by far anyway. The times I have had blacks get testy is when momma is defending her babies. Don’t screw with momma if you know what’s good for you.

I have friends in MT, ID, WY and we talk about the difference in the way mountains are timbered. If you want really different go hunt for Roosevelt elk in Oregon or Washington. I have seen pictures, what a jungle, but I would love to do it.

Gselkhunter

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gselkhunter
.   We sometimes worked 12-15 different bulls a day on public land and we killed and crippled a lot of bulls. I'll tell you guys a little secret: virtually for every two bulls you kill, you'll cripple and lose one. That's the reality of archery elk. They're tough.

In all the time I have hunted elk, I hit one bull in the leg bone. I track that bull for 14 hours before I gave up. I recovered 23" of a 26" arrow, almost gave up hunting that day. But a guy I knew saw the bull the next day and a rifle hunter killed him in first rifle seaon. I even got my broadhead back, I was too well known in those days. Every other elk I have hit with an arrow, I recovered and all but two with in 2 hours. The other two the next morning. I won't take shots I know I can't make and I know stuff happens. And even though the coyotes will feast, wounding any animal leaves a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I can't practice enough or tune a bow well enough to make me happy. And when I walk into the elk woods my bow and I will shoot group at 80yds of 6" or less. I shot yesterday and I will shoot this morning before I leave for Denver.

But Gonehuntin is right come with the right equipment! I shoot a XI Force One set at 70lbs, it is a 30" draw, but overdrawn to 26", the 2314 XX75 arrow is tipped with a Muzzy 130gr broadhead. These are not whitetails by any means. But if you put your arrow in the boiler room, they go down.

Gonehuntin, I like Larry and Dwight very much, great guys to talk with. The other guy I make it a point of talking to is Mike Lapinski. I got to know Mike at a show in Denver, he need some one to be an elk behind the curtain for him, it was me.

Gselkhunter

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gselkhunter have you found the same wounding ratio GH mentioned to be true?

I've lost 2 of the 150 plus whitetails I've stuck but Ilimit my shots to 20 yards or less.

I know they are a lot bigger tougher animal but if you put one right behind the shoulder with a 60 plus( mine are closer to 70 lbs ) Bow with a aluminum arrow and a bear razorhead will it kill them everytime? I would rather not take the shot than wound one. I lost one of those bucks I mentioned above last fall and it still bothers me. He ran on to a adjoining deer club and they would not let me continue, I made abad hit too far back, he was too far away. It was all my fault I shouldn't of taken the shot and wasn't practicing anywhere near enough.

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gselkhunter

Bobman,

I have not seen the loss ratio with all the guys I know and hunt around. My longest killing shot on an elk[with the set up listed above your last post] was 48yds. My closest kill was 13yds and average is 20-25yds. Bear Razor kill elk, you bet. Bottom line, make good shots they go down. I took out the wife of a friend and called in a cow[she couldn't help herself, the bull was on his way in, the cow was there] and she hit this cow in the boiler room with a 45lbs bow and a 125gr Steele Force broadhead at 20yds, the cow was in camp before noon. Closest elk ever, the other side of the tree, about 8".

Gselkhunter

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gselkhunter

In all the time I have hunted elk, I hit one bull in the leg bone. I track that bull for 14 hours before I gave up. I recovered 23" of a 26" arrow, almost gave up hunting that day. But a guy I knew saw the bull the next day and a rifle hunter killed him in first rifle seaon. I even got my broadhead back, I was too well known in those days.

I put this in the above post. Yes 1, how many elk have I killed, if memeory serves me right 18.

Gselkhunter

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