Post rut rifle strategies for unglassable ghost bulls?

Camptravis

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Apr 20, 2022
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I live in an area with relatively flat to rolling terrain. It is also mainly state and corporate timber lands and is covered in timber cuts and various regrowth of trees and brush from newly sprouted trees and brush to dense tall forests and everything in between. I am a rifle hunter who prefers to hunt silently so I'm not really interested in calling and in my area most other rifle hunters glass clearcuts from logging roads and trails usually from trucks or 4 wheelers. My unit is also very heavily pressured and has a low success rate and it is pretty uncommon for rifle hunters to shoot more mature bulls usually picking off a spike or a raghorn from a herd of cows in a clearcut. I feel like because there is so much dense cover the more mature bulls, which are in the post rut during rifle season, go completely nocturnal staying in thick cover during shooting hours and therefore are pretty much unglassable during season. So I was wondering about potential alternative rifle strategies for the post rut that do not involve much glassing. Some potential strategies I was considering were hunting from a tree stand (possibly a tree saddle) high enough up where I could look down into relatively short but dense cover to see bulls that would otherwise be hidden from view from someone glassing on the ground. I also have thought about possibly still hunting through the cover but it is very thick in some places (visibility less than 10 yards) and quite noisy unless it is raining or windy out. I feel like there is potentially a huge opportunity here because I know my area has a lot of elk and the more mature bulls have to be hiding somewhere. They just seem to be pretty much unhuntable using the more conventional rifle strategies and I feel like there must be some secret here I am just waiting to unlock. My long term goal would be to consistently harvest a mature bull with a rifle in my local area every year but I realize that may not be a realistic goal at least for now. I know they are around, but they are just so heavily pressured and turn into ghosts because of our dense vegetation and nocturnal habits. So has anyone else hunted under similar conditions or have any advice? Thanks. Looking forward to the responses.
 

The10%

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Mar 14, 2015
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Sounds like Rosies. Switch to an archery/muzzleloader season that you can catch the rut? lt's rare for me to ever see the big boys after they split off the cows on the coast, nor do I know anyone who consistently kills them with a rifle.
I remember a study that showed after the rut Mature BT bucks movements were done like 98% nocturnal..... Maybe its different in your area, but I haven't had any consistent luck at finding coastal mature bulls in late season.
 
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Camptravis

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No snow until at least November usually when rifle season is already over.
 

Elkangle

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Cameras..and lots of them

If not legal during season,throw out as many Cameras as you can afford directly after and find where he winters...hopefully narrow your area down a decent amount

Then still hunt with 8x binos

I like your goals
 

5MilesBack

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Colorado Springs
Even if they're nocturnal, they still leave tracks. Search for single sets of fresh large tracks. After mature bulls are done mating they'll head off into their hideaway. Sometimes those hideaways are very small areas that they don't like to leave, but have great cover, feed, and water close by. And sometimes you have to get real close to them just to find those tracks, because they aren't leaving that small area. The hard part is going in after him........successfully. He'll hear you long before you see him, he'll see you long before you see him, and there's a good chance he'll smell you before you find him.
 

gonhunting247

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OR
We hunt similar to this at home. Go slow and quiet, use wind, rain, snow, falling leaves to your advantage. Any of these help mask your movement, sound or scent. Use tracks to steer you in the right direction and after awhile there will be a pattern of what they like to do. If you are lucky enough to get snow, get out and cover as much ground as possible and figure out where they like to be. As mentioned above use these methods, but hunt strategically with a partner. A lot of times you'll catch a bull/buck slipping away from the other guys position. Even if season is over get out and scout as close to this time period as possible when the snow hits,. A guy can gain a lot of information for the next season by doing this. Obviously there are a lot of factors to consider, but every piece of the information puzzle you can gain, will help paint a little bit clearer picture.
Great way to use easy to draw tags, but can be mentally tough when you finally get close and they slip through your fingers. Many times I have stood in a bed of a bull with elk smell filling my nostrils and realized he had been watching me and slipped away without me knowing he was there! Have fun
 

nphunter

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Oregon
Go scout in the summer, at lower elevations around here bulls summer in the exact same place they spend post rut for the most part. They don't really go hide, they aren't that smart, they are going where they can use the least amount of energy and recover from the rut. Most of the time that is somewhere steep with feed, water and a close-by bedding area, they really don't need much area at all.

If it were me I'd go for a walk in July and look for sign and put up lots of cameras, once you find a spot that holds bulls go there and still hunt at a snails pace or set up a stand on a trail.

Here is an example, this bull would summer from June until late August in this spot and disappear until late Oct. every year. I have several bulls in that same area that do the same, a friend killed a 340" 7x7 right around that same spot this last rifle season that I had on cam the last couple of years.

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Camptravis

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Great info. Thank for the replies. I'll try to get out there and scout this summer and immediately after season in November especially if we get an early snowfall. Seems like still hunting in the thick cover and timber will probably give me the best odds and I might set up a treestand somewhere if I can find a bull's sanctuary over the summer.
 

ricknmontana

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Sep 17, 2016
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corvallis, montana
Great info. Thank for the replies. I'll try to get out there and scout this summer and immediately after season in November especially if we get an early snowfall. Seems like still hunting in the thick cover and timber will probably give me the best odds and I might set up a treestand somewhere if I can find a bull's sanctuary over the summer.
Most summer "scouting" runs elk out of the area whether you see them or not. Seen it happen countless times. And they usually DON'T come back by hunting season. Too many other places to hang out where they are not bothered
 

Seeknelk

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NW MT
Don't overlook your other sense. The sense of smell. Circle downwind of suspected hidouts. You'll learn the "warm" smell of elk body,. different than just barnyard piss smell.
Obviously it's just one tool in the box but keep it sharp and trust it. I've had several times where I smelled em and killed em or had close calls when I went to investigate.
If you get a nice snowfall go tracking
Tracking after season will show you an incredible amount. I mean do it with purpose, like your trying to kill that one bull and let him take you where he takes you. Keep doing that and marking what you learn on a huge map (you ordered one right:)?)of the area. You'll soon see patterns and spots and weaknesses.
 

Seeknelk

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Then determine if a tree stand or other ambush is the way. Or just super focused still hunting thru these new spot within the spots.
 

Marble

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May 29, 2019
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Cameras..and lots of them

If not legal during season,throw out as many Cameras as you can afford directly after and find where he winters...hopefully narrow your area down a decent amount

Then still hunt with 8x binos

I like your goals
This...

Cameras at shops you can check that will tell you a pattern.

Using binos in the timber has gotten me several bulls. Wet mornings are better than dry. Cold is better than warm. Too cold is noisy. Keep moving... keep moving.

If you know elk are in a stand of timber, I like to enter where they do and follow. Or, enter into the edge and check the entire perimeter to see busy entry points. I usually follow a ridge top or valley bottom.

Sent from my SM-G986U using Tapatalk
 

Elkangle

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If you know elk are in a stand of timber, I like to enter where they do and follow. Or, enter into the edge and check the entire perimeter to see busy entry points. I usually follow a ridge top or valley bottom.

Some of the bigger bulls I've been chasing have all been in areas the wind flows right to them on nearly every approach, finding the trails and then knowing the wind patterns and then potentially having your own trail might be ideal esp in thick country...

Seems like they bed behind a wall of brush and then on the other side there is a legit bedroom of maybe 25ish square yards...often near a creak or maybe just above it on a ledge

Randy ulmer says a mature bull has one of the most sensitive noses out there,when he talks I listen
 

Marble

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Some of the bigger bulls I've been chasing have all been in areas the wind flows right to them on nearly every approach, finding the trails and then knowing the wind patterns and then potentially having your own trail might be ideal esp in thick country...

Seems like they bed behind a wall of brush and then on the other side there is a legit bedroom of maybe 25ish square yards...often near a creak or maybe just above it on a ledge

Randy ulmer says a mature bull has one of the most sensitive noses out there,when he talks I listen
100% They will typically bed in a place with a good swirl from the wind in the last 100 yards of a ridge towards the top. Timber with a thick canopy will flow with the wind and against it. The canopy acts as a vortex for the wind as it blows over the ridge, it sucks the air right or of the timber then goes right over the top of it. So frustrating.

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Idaho4x4Bronco

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Sandpoint ID
100% They will typically bed in a place with a good swirl from the wind in the last 100 yards of a ridge towards the top. Timber with a thick canopy will flow with the wind and against it. The canopy acts as a vortex for the wind as it blows over the ridge, it sucks the air right or of the timber then goes right over the top of it. So frustrating.

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Yeah. Cover your clothes, boots, pack in elk piss and start SLOWLY walking through the dark timber. It's an absolute joy of a pack out should you be unlucky enough to shoot one in there 😄
 

Rich M

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Jun 14, 2017
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Orlando
You guys are talking about Beast whitetail hunting.

Find the bull’s beds and then hunt him there when the time is right.

Snow is your friend for finding them. Rubs on trees. 1/3 slopes for the mix of thermals and daily wind.

Sounds like fun and challenging hunting.
 
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