MonsterMuleys.com

Early Season Elk Hunting Tips
By Brad Vargo

Photo by Peter Eades

Click Here to View More Photos
The summer scouting season is over and it is finally time to hit the woods and hunt elk. You have practiced at the range, your gear is ready and you are excited to start hunting. If you have scouted all summer successfully, then the first tip is to stay true to your game plan until something significant happens that will require you to make an adjustment. Just because that big bull does not show himself the first day, does not mean that he will not be back the next day or the day after that. Early season elk hunting is all about being persistent. It can be hot and miserable, but those hunters that are persistent, hunting from sunup to sundown greatly increase their odds at success. Spend less time in camp and more time hunting! Ensure that you have everything you need for your hunting trip at camp to last the duration of the hunt. This will help with the temptation to run into town in the middle of your trip.

Early season is hot and when it is hot it is all about the water. This is the time of the year that you should be sitting on waterholes and wallows, especially if you are hunting in the drier desert climates. Hopefully, you have located several productive ones in your late summer scouting sessions. The best times for activity in this situation are the last moments of light. Sure cows, spikes, and small raghorns may come in an hour before dark, but the big bulls always seem to come in with just a few precious minutes remaining of legal shooting time. You will need to be prepared to shoot quickly. If you are bow hunting, an arrow should be nocked and you should be in a position to make minimal movement drawing your bow. You will have to fight boredom and bugs to be successful. Waterhole and wallow hunting are not the only early season stand hunting options you should be considering as hunting travel corridors can also be productive.

Photo by Peter Eades

Click Here to View More Photos
In areas of agricultural crops, it can be very productive setting up either in a ground blind or in a tree stand on a travel corridor between crops and bedding areas. I know of several Montana archery hunters who are successful every year employing this strategy. Another travel corridor that can be very effective during the midday is setting up where two to three narrow drainages come together into one. This strategy can be an effective strategy for those of you that like to rotate locations throughout the day. I know of one Utah archery hunter that gets a cow or spike elk most every year hunting out of a tree stand using this strategy.

There are certain elk hunting practices that are universal and apply to all seasons, especially for hunters who like to be mobile. Get up high on a good vantage point early and glass, glass and glass. When it is hot elk like to hole up on cool north slopes in dark timber. Look for feeding and watering areas close to these prime bedding areas. Look for saddles with protective cover leading from south facing slopes to these north sided bedding areas. If these north facing areas contain good water and feed, then elk will usually hole up and not leave these areas during the day until cooler weather comes. This is where you will have to hunt the fringes of those areas, probing selectively so as to not scare the elk out of the area.

One of the best elk hunting tactics is to get intimately familiar with your hunting area. This takes years and years of investment, but it can pay huge dividends in the long run. Ever wonder why some people harvest a big bull with a bow every year? In most cases they have fine-tuned their hunting tactics to a particular area where they know how to locate, hunt, and kill big bulls. Most people will not put in the time and hours to get to this level of effectiveness. They usually move on from one area to another every couple of years looking for that perfect spot. That perfect spot only exists when an area is fully developed over time with hard work and great effort. In limited entry elk hunting areas this is not possible, but you still can get to know an area better by forming alliances with family and friends. As each person hunts the area, the information gained is shared amongst the group. When one person draws, everyone pitches in and helps with scouting and locating areas and animals. Finally, the most important thing is to get out there and have fun enjoying the start of another glorious hunting season.