Elk movement and weather

AaronMColeman

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Nov 20, 2018
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Wyoming
So my main question is what have your experiences been with various changes in weather and how they affect elk movement?

This time of year is nuts. Last night was 60 degrees, today is 25 and snowy, tomorrow is a low of 7 overnight. Tomorrow morning will be sunny and cold but lots of snow on the ground.

Do the elk move more before the snow? Immediately after the snow? Do they move more when it’s 60 and sunny, or when it’s 25, sunny and snow on the ground?

I’m just looking for some generalities regarding when they move most and under what weather conditions this time of year. Thanks!


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mmcodnough

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Jan 28, 2019
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Born and raised in Idaho, now in lake country MN
60 and sunny is like a freaking sauna for an elk. They will be bedded down somewhere in dark timber where it's cool and dark in that scenario. Those days can be challenging. They will be very active in colder temps though, they love that stuff as long as it's not bitter cold like in the single digits. They won't really change much for snow either unless it's super deep and crusty. A little snow and around freezing temps can be a big plus for hunters, the elk are easier to track and they're more active.
 
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AaronMColeman

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Wyoming
60 and sunny is like a freaking sauna for an elk. They will be bedded down somewhere in dark timber where it's cool and dark in that scenario. Those days can be challenging. They will be very active in colder temps though, they love that stuff as long as it's not bitter cold like in the single digits. They won't really change much for snow either unless it's super deep and crusty. A little snow and around freezing temps can be a big plus for hunters, the elk are easier to track and they're more active.
Sounds like tomorrow morning and evening should be perfect. Snow today, 20s tomorrow and sunny. Yesterday was 60 and sunny and I didn't see a single elk or any sign that seemed to be less than 48 hours old.
 

mmcodnough

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Born and raised in Idaho, now in lake country MN
Sounds like tomorrow morning and evening should be perfect. Snow today, 20s tomorrow and sunny. Yesterday was 60 and sunny and I didn't see a single elk or any sign that seemed to be less than 48 hours old.
Yea man, those are good conditions as long as the elk are around. You'll know pretty quick if you see any fresh sign. Good luck!
 

jmez

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Jun 12, 2012
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Piedmont, SD
Do you sweat walking in the mountains when it is 60 degrees and sunny? Now imagine being 8x heavier and wearing a thick, full length fur coat!! Elk don't like the heat. I've watched bulls wallow when it is 30 degrees and snowing, cool/cold doesn't bother them. The cooler the better, and clouds are your friend.
 

Wrench

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Every one is unique too. Some will hang out in 7 feet of snow, some see a flake and boggie.
 

davsco

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Jan 30, 2018
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VA
predicting real (record) cold and some snow tonite and tomorrow in nw colo. from what i've read/heard, they need a foot or two of snow to go lower, guess we'll see how that works.
 

UtahJimmy

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SLC, UT
Do you sweat walking in the mountains when it is 60 degrees and sunny? Now imagine being 8x heavier and wearing a thick, full length fur coat!! Elk don't like the heat. I've watched bulls wallow when it is 30 degrees and snowing, cool/cold doesn't bother them. The cooler the better, and clouds are your friend.
Had elk in this wallow on Friday. They had to break through the ice (you can see the chunks refroze in the other half) to get to the mud that they threw all over the snow. Pretty crazy! I know I was wayyy too cold to want to get wet, but they don't seem to care!


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MTSasquatch

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Jul 21, 2019
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Like previously stated, it needs to get pretty cold to make them get moving or relocate. As for snow, basically speaking, elk will stay in an area with snow so long as the energy they expend to get the food through snow is less than, or nearly equal but still less than, the energy they will get from that food source. If they expend more energy than they’re getting, they move on for better feeding areas. Forage condition moving into that period is important too. High energy foods can keep elk in an area with lots of snow because they’ll need less of it than poorer quality foods. Crust kills, so they’ll get moving when it gets too hard. Cold temps and snow are your friend. Helps with meat care too! Best of luck
 

Jbehredt

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Mar 4, 2017
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Colorado
I read somewhere that elk don’t react to cold temps until 18 below zero. Strange number but it stuck in my head.
 
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