First elk hunt

TIREBUSTER

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Aug 2, 2021
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Pretty stoked. I drew my first elk tag. Got a bull tag in idaho 48 for the first half of october. Not much experience under my belt. I've got some areas picked out I want to go scout out. Was wondering if there was any advice or tips I could get as far as good places to start looking. I've got experience as far as tracking and what not but I've never actually gone out and had to or tried to scout for them. Any advice would be awesome!

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Indian Summer

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Go to the top of the ridges, have a look around at the big picture. Then drop down to the first or second bench and run those.
 

Wapiti1

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Think basics. Water, food, bedding. Water within a mile of food and bedding, closer is better. Food. Elk eat grass and forbes primarily. They will browse, but it's not their preferred food source. Where is the good food at the time you are there? Spring, summer and fall food are at different levels on the mountain in most cases. A call to the biologist can help with what they like and when.

Bedding can be anywhere, but good cover on a bench is a solid bet. Any small bench to large one within 1/2 mile of the good food. They will bed on slopes if they have to, but really prefer a more level spot. A bench as small as a few feet wide if enough.

For bedding , they may be any direction from the food. Above, below, to the side. If it's hot, look for deep shady places with springs and you'll find wallows. Wallows are often near beds, or in between food and bedding.

Lastly, if it is glassable country. Use your glass. Get high and find the elk early and late. Then look at the terrain, and maps to figure out why they are there.

Jeremy
 

Laramie

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Congrats on the tag. Good advice above. Best I can offer is don't overthink things too much. Elk move around, a lot. Look at a topo and draw a 3-5 mile circle around an area you think looks good and that would be a typical, undisturbed, elks range. Hunters, the rut, and weather can make them leave that range. Don't sweat it if you don't see elk while scouting and don't count on elk being there that you do see come hunting season.

If you are scouting for archery season, look for areas with rubs from last year and previous years indicating that rutting bulls have consistently used that area historically. If you are scouting for rifle season, spend your time just learning the country from high to low as weather may dictate what elevation the elk will be when the season opens.

Good luck and enjoy the experience!
 
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TIREBUSTER

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Thanks for the info guys! I'm super stoked! Sounds like I'm headed in the right direction. Never played with topo maps much but I think I'm getting them figured out.

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TIREBUSTER

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Tell u about your setup, rifle, scope, etc.
I'm running a 7mm rem mag with a sig bdx combo 4.5-14x44 with the kilo 1000. Not sure what bipod I have. It was on it when I bought it. Love the gun! Just have some low end Bushnell binos right now. Should hopefully be buying maybe the vortex diamondback HD here in the next couple weeks. Got an Alpz Trailblazer? Backpack for now. Other than that I'm still working on getting some clothing and also a few other necessities for when the hunt time comes. Oh and also getting the barrel threaded at the moment for a suppressor for the predator hunts.
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JW7

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Find a burn within a few years ago. Find boundaries, like burn boundaries, and even unit boundaries. Get away from the roads.
 

Indian Summer

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Thanks for the info guys! I'm super stoked! Sounds like I'm headed in the right direction. Never played with topo maps much but I think I'm getting them figured out.

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You better get them figured out. You can’t hunt elk without knowing map language.
 
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TIREBUSTER

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You better get them figured out. You can’t hunt elk without knowing map language.
I am! They're not as bad as I thought they would be and having the whole 3d part of OnX helped me quite a bit. I felt like I could kind of confirm that I was reading the topo correctly if that makes sense

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arock

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For the .30-06 I shoot Hornaday 178 grain ELDX pews. Bought a bunch a month ago and have seen this on shelves and online.
 

Indian Summer

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That's a bit of an overstatement. I haven't owned a map in 30 years and I manage to keep my freezer full of elk.
How do you determine where the honey holes might be and come up with game plans? Whatever your success rate is it would go up if you were to “hunt them on the map” first.
 

Laramie

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How do you determine where the honey holes might be and come up with game plans? Whatever your success rate is it would go up if you were to “hunt them on the map” first.
I prefer to keep my strategies off the web. I have filled an elk tag every year I have drawn since 1989 and some years 2-3 elk due to additional tags& hunting multiple states. I have had tag soup only twice and both were intentional because I didn't need the additional cow after filling my first tag. I have hunted and guided in Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico for over 30 years- all without the use of topo maps. I'm not discounting them as a benefit to many people. However, your statement made it sound absolute which it is not.
 

Indian Summer

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I prefer to keep my strategies off the web. I have filled an elk tag every year I have drawn since 1989 and some years 2-3 elk due to additional tags& hunting multiple states. I have had tag soup only twice and both were intentional because I didn't need the additional cow after filling my first tag. I have hunted and guided in Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico for over 30 years- all without the use of topo maps. I'm not discounting them as a benefit to many people. However, your statement made it sound absolute which it is not.
It’s always interesting to listen to other hunters stories. Even the beginners. But I’m always interested to hear from some more experienced guys. I’ve been at it since 86. I’m from Pa and started in Montana. Nobody to teach us. No internet. Completely self taught and we had a slow start. But I never gave up. Eventually got things figured out. Started guiding and eventually bought my own outfit. I take rookie partners with me all the time and everyone in camp tags out. But damn brother I love using my topos. I’ve killed bulls right where I put Xs on the map. I can’t imagine not using them. The only alternative seems to be just hunting the same areas long and hard enough to learn every nook and cranny and how the elk use them. We do that too but it all starts staring at maps until I’m falling asleep. More power to you! Good luck this fall!
 
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TIREBUSTER

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I see both sides on the topo maps and the non topo way. To each their own. Maybe I'll learn both ways and use em together or like one over the other. Either way, doesn't matter to me which way I do it, I feel either way could be just as successful as the other. Appreciate the input.

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