New Archery Elk Hunter in Oregon

Tuckerorman

Member
Joined
Oct 11, 2020
Messages
96
Hey all,

This September will be my first time ever hunting elk. I currently have a plan to hunt in Colorado with a family friend in mid-September but would also like to get out in the woods in early September. I live in Central Oregon and was thinking I'd either head out west for Roosevelt or north east for Rocky Mountain. I will most likely be OTC hunting with one non-hunter friend and just wanted to ask if any of you would have input on where it would be best for a beginner to head this September. I have very low expectations for actually killing something, and would love to just get into some elk.

Thanks,

Tucker
 

Michael Rankin

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 10, 2016
Messages
202
Next year in Oregon will be a draw in most east side units for elk. If you think that is the side of the state you want to hunt more in the future, I would explore some different east side units this year while it’s otc. Pick out multiple areas in several units, and use this year to check them out. Next year you would have to apply, and then just hunt the one unit you draw.
 

BRTreedogs

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Nov 16, 2017
Messages
3,702
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Central Oregon
No one is going to offer up a location.

Your biggest help is going to be to learn about elk. You can take your knowledge anywhere.

Elknut App and videos
Elk 101 University
Elk collective
Treeline academy

Do some research on which way you think you'll like to consume the info.
 

Beendare

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May 6, 2014
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In Traffic
First thing I would do in your situation;

Use the search feature, there is probably a months worth of reading on this exact question
 
OP
Tuckerorman

Tuckerorman

Member
Joined
Oct 11, 2020
Messages
96
No one is going to offer up a location.

Your biggest help is going to be to learn about elk. You can take your knowledge anywhere.

Elknut App and videos
Elk 101 University
Elk collective
Treeline academy

Do some research on which way you think you'll like to consume the info.
Thanks for the suggestion. I just got the Elk 101 uni. Also, I wasn’t really asking for a location more just a general area.
 

hibernation

Member
Joined
Nov 11, 2020
Messages
51
Location
Oregon
You could look at the big game stats from ODFW to compare areas, both harvest rates and population trends, but I'd take them with a big grain of salt. Success rates are pretty consistent for most units, and a lot of the differences in elk populations are because of large herds on private land. Some units have big populations on paper, but many of them are down on private ranches & agriculture so it doesn't mean much to the public land hunter.

I'd say you're best off going to whichever area you're most familiar with. Most of an elk hunt is usually spent just finding elk, which is usually faster if you already know your way around a bit.
 

roosiebull

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Aug 23, 2014
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1,598
Location
oregon coast
Thanks for the suggestion. I just got the Elk 101 uni. Also, I wasn’t really asking for a location more just a general area.
You first should decide where you want to hunt in the future, East or west? After you decide, get on google earth/on-x and figure out access... closer the better, more time hunting is valuable.

you have a learning curve, figure out what side you want to hunt and start figuring out a plan... go scout some weekends, start learning areas.

I suggest looking as close to home as possible, even if it’s not the best elk country, a place you can spend lots of time in helps
 
OP
Tuckerorman

Tuckerorman

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Joined
Oct 11, 2020
Messages
96
You first should decide where you want to hunt in the future, East or west? After you decide, get on google earth/on-x and figure out access... closer the better, more time hunting is valuable.

you have a learning curve, figure out what side you want to hunt and start figuring out a plan... go scout some weekends, start learning areas.

I suggest looking as close to home as possible, even if it’s not the best elk country, a place you can spend lots of time in helps
Thanks for the tips. The unit I’m in has a tiny success rate but I know that there are elk here. Would it be best just to setup some cams in my unit and scout a ton instead of driving 5+ hours for one or two scouting trips out East at a higher success rate unit?
 

mtnlomo

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Jan 21, 2021
Messages
79
Location
Salem, OR
ODFW has population, management and objective stats on their website by unit, as well as harvest stats per unit. I would recommend starting there and then using OnX and Google earth to find places to hunt in promising units. From there go scout over weekends areas you have picked. OTC archery in Oregon will be a zoo this year as it has been in years past, but there are plenty of elk both east and west side of the state. Good luck


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

roosiebull

Senior Member
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Aug 23, 2014
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1,598
Location
oregon coast
Thanks for the tips. The unit I’m in has a tiny success rate but I know that there are elk here. Would it be best just to setup some cams in my unit and scout a ton instead of driving 5+ hours for one or two scouting trips out East at a higher success rate unit?
Success rates don’t matter if you can spend the time to learn it... that also keeps the crowds away. My home unit hovers around 4-7% success rate, the next unit south that I spend a good amount of time in is about the same, and I kill a bull a season there, and have for a lot of years... it’s all relative

We just bought a house down the coast (keeping our house here also) and where we now primarily live is one of the better success rate areas, as well as a much better age class... it’s better hunting. All of that said, I will most likely spend most of September at our other house in the low success region, because I know it all so well... on paper, hunting around our new place is obviously a better option, but in real life (for now) that isn’t the case.

I would pretty much pick an area close to home over an area that looks better on paper but limits the time you can spend there... that part is a no brainer to me, it is such a big benefit to know the country and how elk use it.... far better than 3% higher success rate.

most hunters are fairly lazy, so most folks won’t put too much effort in if there are not obvious or easy to access elk.... you just have to outwork the other hunters, and be dialed in and confident shooting your bow.

people get discouraged after some slow hunting, especially in tough country. Just know, getting into elk hunting, there is no secret sauce... stay motivated, and keep a good attitude regardless of the action you are having or aren’t. I think the biggest weakness of elk hunters is the ability to stay truly optimistic even when it seems impossible... people will lose interest at some point and then fabricate this year’s list of excuses.... don’t be that guy.

lots of days in the area you are hunting, work hard, full effort all season, and stay motivated and a month is a LONG time to not get at least one chance, and that truly is all it takes.

elk season can go from 10 days of not seeing a single elk to a dead bull on the ground in 30 seconds.... it always feels impossible until that one hunt it seems too easy.

seek out habitat that isn’t super easy to access close as possible to home and start spending time in the woods, I think that’s your best option
 
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Tuckerorman

Tuckerorman

Member
Joined
Oct 11, 2020
Messages
96
Success rates don’t matter if you can spend the time to learn it... that also keeps the crowds away. My home unit hovers around 4-7% success rate, the next unit south that I spend a good amount of time in is about the same, and I kill a bull a season there, and have for a lot of years... it’s all relative

We just bought a house down the coast (keeping our house here also) and where we now primarily live is one of the better success rate areas, as well as a much better age class... it’s better hunting. All of that said, I will most likely spend most of September at our other house in the low success region, because I know it all so well... on paper, hunting around our new place is obviously a better option, but in real life (for now) that isn’t the case.

I would pretty much pick an area close to home over an area that looks better on paper but limits the time you can spend there... that part is a no brainer to me, it is such a big benefit to know the country and how elk use it.... far better than 3% higher success rate.

most hunters are fairly lazy, so most folks won’t put too much effort in if there are not obvious or easy to access elk.... you just have to outwork the other hunters, and be dialed in and confident shooting your bow.

people get discouraged after some slow hunting, especially in tough country. Just know, getting into elk hunting, there is no secret sauce... stay motivated, and keep a good attitude regardless of the action you are having or aren’t. I think the biggest weakness of elk hunters is the ability to stay truly optimistic even when it seems impossible... people will lose interest at some point and then fabricate this year’s list of excuses.... don’t be that guy.

lots of days in the area you are hunting, work hard, full effort all season, and stay motivated and a month is a LONG time to not get at least one chance, and that truly is all it takes.

elk season can go from 10 days of not seeing a single elk to a dead bull on the ground in 30 seconds.... it always feels impossible until that one hunt it seems too easy.

seek out habitat that isn’t super easy to access close as possible to home and start spending time in the woods, I think that’s your best option
Thank you for all the insight. I have a spot that I'm looking at but it doesn't have any obvious watering holes for elk. Should I even pursue a spot with no watering holes? Also, it's a relatively hard-to-access spot.
 

hibernation

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Nov 11, 2020
Messages
51
Location
Oregon
If there's elk, they're getting water from somewhere. Just because it's not obvious and you can't find it (for now), doesn't mean it's not there. Get in there and look for elk sign, run cameras if you can.
 
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Tuckerorman

Tuckerorman

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Joined
Oct 11, 2020
Messages
96
If there's elk, they're getting water from somewhere. Just because it's not obvious and you can't find it (for now), doesn't mean it's not there. Get in there and look for elk sign, run cameras if you can.
I saw some elk sign (hair, poop, possible wallow) near a small river I fish that's heavily populated that's within a few miles of the spot I was going to try hunting. I was thinking about setting up cameras near the river but felt like trying to hunt near where a ton of people are fishing wouldn't be a great idea. Should I set up cams near the river?
 

DawnPatrol

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Dec 22, 2020
Messages
119
Location
Nunya
You’ve got lots of good advice here—hope you can make it come together.

Just want to second what many have said about the benefits of hunting a unit that’s less desirable on paper if you can spend a ton of time there throughout the year.

Find the areas those elk use and make a plan. Then make a back-up plan. And another. You won’t be the only yokel who knows about those elk ;)
 
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