Alberta public land elk success


Junior Member
Sep 28, 2018
Stouffville, Ontario
Back from an amazing hunt in Alberta. I have been going to Colorado with my brother since 2015, the first two years up by Craig with an outfitter, the last two years hunting on our own in unit 55. I was planning to hunt with another friend (my brother was not able to travel this fall), but had to cancel due to the border closure. Last minute I arranged to go with a guide in Alberta. The experience was just what I was looking for and the guide’s description of “two guys going hunting”, versus more of a lodge type outfitter set up was exactly as advertised. We had a trailer / tent basecamp and then bivy camped from there for up to a couple nights at a time. We had a couple of awesome encounters and then we were successful with this bull. If anyone is looking for a more DIY style guided hunt I’d be happy to provide a recommendation (I’m not posting the guide’s name publicly as he keeps his operation under the radar due to local pressure). A couple of key learnings for me that I thought I’d share:
- you don’t have to go deep to find the elk, even on public land in an OTC unit. We hiked in far and hunted hard but didn’t see elk. Our two other encounters and this bull were less than a mile from the truck. People say this all the time, but I had it in my head that I needed to be a hero and outwork others to find a bull. I know think hunting smart is the way to go!
- On the ground scouting is critical. We found all the elk in a certain type of vegetation. Areas that looked good from topo / escouting weren’t holding the elk. We targeted this area based on the type of vegetation that the guide had seen during scouting and that is exactly where we found this bull
- hunting in grizzly country is not so bad. We saw a sow and three cubs on the way to camp and we saw bear scat pretty much everyday. But it didn’t bother our hunting at all. I slept soundly at night in my bivy tent. It was a bit nerve wrecking coming back to the kill site the morning after but we went about it smartly. I think the risk / reward for hunting in grizzly country is a good trade
- the pack out is worse than you think it will be. I’m in good shape and train hard. We only had to go less than a mile (but uphill) and it was not easy for two guys (especially in the dark). Before this experience I was planning to hunt 8+ miles deep with two people. I’m not sure how we would have gotten the meat out without spoiling in that situation. Personally I would only hunt that deep with more guys. If just two of us I would limit to 5 miles in To avoid putting myself in a bad situation
- bow practice pays off. I had a very short window to make the shot without warning. We bugled and heard a branch snap. The bull was on us in less than 30 seconds, barely enough time for me to knock my arrow. I had a small shooting lane surrounded by thick shit. If I had to think at all about “should I take this shot” or “can I make this shot” I would have missed my chance. I was confident it was a shot I should take and went into auto pilot. The shot scenario was one that I had practiced many times (btw I pinwheeled him and he dropped in front of us). In hindsight this easily could have been just another encounter not converted
- hunt through the mental tiredness. That day we’d hunted (more like hiked) a long way. I recall thinking that maybe we should just do a short hunt That night and get back to camp early. I credit the guide for keeping us going. The first morning we had chased a bull forever and then he went silent. I would have called it a morning at that point. We just slowed played it from there and the bull came in silent after about 15 mins after I thought he was gone. Patience pays off.
Already looking forward to next year!


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Mt Al

Senior Member
Dec 16, 2017
Congrats! Very nice bull and there's nothing like getting them close to the road!