question for the elk hunters

marshrat

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What are some common pitfalls of the first year elk hunter? I'm going with a group of guys who are older than I am, have several seasons under their belt, get into elk a lot, but they have only killed a couple of elk between the four guys in twelve trips. They are archery hunters, which will drive down the success rate, but I just want to know what I can do or avoid that will allow me to increase my successful odds. I want to enjoy my experience more than I am worried about the kill, but I want to work my butt off and know that tried my best to seal the deal rather than just watching the sunrise and sunset. I also don't want to go out there balls to the wall for a day or two and have no energy to continue. Can the success rates for some people be that low? Is that just poor planning or poor luck? Need some advice.
 

Rod

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Go to the elk section & read the "why" thread. I think it explains a lot. But what do i know i am 0-3 on elk trips!
 

les welch

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4 guys x 12 trips / 2 elk= FIND A DIFFERENT GROUP!

Not kidding here man. Seriously they prolly should have killed at least two with knives in that many trips......

In reality it really comes down to what you want. Do you want to hunt, or do you want to camp with a group of friends?
 
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marshrat

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4 guys x 12 trips / 2 elk= FIND A DIFFERENT GROUP!

Not kidding here man. Seriously they prolly should have killed at least two with knives in that many trips......

In reality it really comes down to what you want. Do you want to hunt, or do you want to camp with a group of friends?
See, I was thinking the same way. I know I don't know jack about elk, mountains, anything when it comes to western hunting. I do know that I want to hunt and be successful. I like the idea of getting the help, and I know that I will have time to do things on my own. I just kind of like the idea of at least the first year to have a place that I can go back to each night, work out a game plan for the next day and just enjoy the evenings. The way that I'm understanding it, everyone kind of does their own thing during the days, and I know for a fact they are getting into elk. They just haven't closed the deal yet, and I really don't know why other than maybe they are more concerned with the time and enjoyment rather than the hunting. I want to learn all I can, and I want a good experience. I may just make the trip with them, but stay away until the evenings. Point taken, though, as I was leaning in this direction as it is.
 

les welch

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I would consider that 48 trips personally. Lets say they killed 4 elk? That is about 8% success....for me that doesn't cut it...not even close actually. If they are getting into elk at all, they should be doing better than this. One thing to consider, this will probably never be "your" spot. Yep you will probably learn some things, which is good, but eventually you'll probably be better off finding your "own" area. Good Luck
 

littlebuf

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do any of you know how to call?your hunting archery so you should be in the rut.your comment about lower success rate because of archery i find to be exactly opposite.learn to call and get as far back as your gear and physic will allow you. only one way to learn and thats to get out and do it.but what ever you do learn to call
 

littlebuf

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oh and forget about "enjoying the evenings" if your doing it right you'll hardly be able to force dinner down.if your kickin back having a beer and good time with nice fresh feeling feet...your doing it wrong
 

T43

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That's not entirely true. I enjoy every evening. No beer it's to heavy but I do pack a flask for a nice warm up after dinner. If you don't enjoy taking your boots off, letting your feet air out, listening to the mellow hiss of a jetboil, waiting for a freeze dried meal to rehydrate while listening to elk bugle, planning out the next day with Christmas morning anticipation, and watching the same stars that have become distant friends over the years before climbing in to a cool sleeping bag for what will seem like not enough sleep until you pull your cold boots on then you're doing something wrong.
 

littlebuf

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Yeah,everyone does it different I suppose.where I elk hunt its all I can do to get back to my tent at night and slug down a mountain house.and I sure as hell ain't carrying whiskey up there with me. Still though to the origanal poster,just get out there as much as you can.you'll figure out what works,and probably even faster what doesn't
 

herdbull

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I'm in the same boat as littlebuf. There's nights where it takes an hour or more post sunset to get back to camp, another half hour to eat, set out gear for the morning, repack the food supply....... by the time that is done it's way past lights out time. Probably pushin 10 pm. 3:30-4:00 am wake-ups come quick. No worse day than to start the day off beat.

In 2007 I hunted with a group put together on that "other" bow hunting website. They were green, very green, and wanted a huge meal after returning back to camp each night. Well it worked for 2-3 days until they couldn't get out of bed in the morning. Things changed in a hurry after that - lol.

To the OP, it's your first year. You're gonna learn a lot, hopefully you're into elk, than you'll learn a lot. Have fun, have some more and then have some more. The last few years of elk hunting for me weren't fun, hence the reason I'm taking some time away from it.
 

treestanding

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"In 2007 I hunted with a group put together on that "other" bow hunting website. They were green, very green"

What a bunch of loosers:) You would really hunt with guys like that?:) Nice to see you here Travis, I saw Dave post here a couple of times. I took my son and my nephew out there last year.

My advise from another "green" elk hunter is to get in shape now. The mountains are much bigger and steeper than they look like in the pictures. Also do a lot of "virtual scouting" with Google and Bing maps. Learn to call, especially cow calls. Get Elknuts DVD's on calling, they are packed with good info. Spot and stalk is fun, but hard. If you can find an active wallow, they can be productive. Check out the elk forum for lots of good info. Like others have said, above all, have fun.
 

sk1

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my advice is, if you dont know where to go on your own, or how to get started, or just want to feel more comfortable by having other people around for your first elk hunt...is to find out where they camp and locate all the roads, and hike as far away as you can in the morning darkness and come back after dark....if they're back early and i bet they will be, hopefully they have supper ready for you :D
 

philw

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What are some common pitfalls of the first year elk hunter? I'm going with a group of guys who are older than I am, have several seasons under their belt, get into elk a lot, but they have only killed a couple of elk between the four guys in twelve trips.
I grew up hunting deer "back east" and didn't start on elk until I moved out here, and I can still remember some pitfalls. First question is, does your group of guys hunt the same area every year? The reason I ask is, most of elk hunting is moving around until you find the animals and find a good area (or three). Some guys get locked in on one area for whatever reason and success has a lot to do with where you hunt. My hunting partner and I hunted an area we thought was good for the first three years, on the theory that it's good to get to know an area really well. But we didn't know what a good area looked like. Once we started looking at different parts of the state and found some really good spots, we realized our mistake and our success rate has been night and day since then.

So my advice would be to keep trying different areas until you find one that clicks.

Second piece of advice is that elk are not deer. That sounds simple but old habits are hard to break. If you grew up hunting whitetails in hardwood forests, you know that it's damn near impossible to sneak up on 'em and get a shot. So you tend to want to find a good spot, stay put, and let the animals come to you because that's how it's done. That doesn't work very well with elk. They move around and cover a lot more ground than whitetails, so you have to keep moving until you find 'em. And you can sneak up on 'em because they're not nearly as paranoid as eastern deer, and you're not walking on oak leaves out here. Especially bowhunting in the rut, you should be listening for the bulls and then moving right up close, closer than you think is possible if you've grown up hunting eastern deer. If you call to a bull with cows from a distance, lots of times you'll get an answer but he won't move in; he'll either stay put or move away. But if you crowd his space, you can get his attention. So don't be afraid to move up close.
 

Tookeymonster

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Do as much summer scouting as you can. This will show you how easy you need to take it for the first couple days and so you wont get altitude sickness on your hunt. Get your group to split up and cover a large area and do lots of glassing to see where the elk are. These two thing should be at the top of your long list.
 

evan williams

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Few suggestions:

1. roehuntingresources.com Chris Roe is an EXCELLENT resource for calling/set-ups/vocalizations
2. headsupdecoys.com If you are going to be off hunting solo carry a lite decoy that you can throw up and get a visual cue and get the attention off you

I saw that you are an OKIE so summer scouting probably isn't an option so you need to study a lot of good detailed maps of the area, google earth images, get info from your friends on where they have seen elk, wallows, as much as they will tell you. Then ask any and EVERY question that comes to your mind.

3. Be prepared to camp out on a herd. Have a tarp or single man tent and be ready to take it with you. If you find a herd with a bull or some good satellites that you want throw your bivy gear together and go stay with them.

Thats my advice. Maybe you'll get a lot of other better advice but that is mine.
 

Broken Arrow

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Marshrat that's why I am in a debate that I'll even go this year. Today I walked 2.5 miles with 50lbs plus P90x shoulders n arms. Did 3.5 miles with 50lb pack yesterday and an hour of strength training my legs. I am sore from head to toe! I'm not ready
When I can pack 4-5 miles a day for a week like its any other day I'll feel ready. I am going solo when I go failure or success will be ME!!!! Failure isn't an option I started out saying if I see elk I'll be happy now.... I WILL KILL AN ELK or die trying. I will scout, I will only be beaten by the elk themselves I WON'T GIVE UP!!!! I read and learn as much as I can everyday. I'm buying the best equipment I can. When I go I will come back elk hunting rookie of the year!!!!
 
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cnelk

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I would call group you're going with 'Elk Campers'-
Lots of guys call it 'elk hunting' but not quite getting the total package of the 'hunt' part.

What state are you headed to?

I would talk to the the group and tell them of YOUR intentions about your daily hunting routine - things you want [or not want] to do.
We take turns cooking each night. So if its your turn to cook, you cant hunt very late. YOU have the grub hot and ready for when the others come
back.

Not sure of your hunting camp style, but we have a base camp that we hunt out of. We cover ~100 sq miles in a week.
Drive and hunt different spots each day until we find them. Sometimes we hunt right from camp - depending on where the elk are
We always see elk, we always get elk.
 

mattstanton

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Go to elknut.com and buy the playbook, mastering the mouth reed dvd and the worse than wolves series. All of the information you need to get started is right there. It will get you started on calling, setups, techniques and approaches to different situations the elk will present you with. After that, I would fire up google earth and get some maps of the area. look for the areas with the biggest space between roads and study them so that when you hike into them you are more comfertable and less nervous about getting turned around. If you have the option to pre-scout the area than I HIGHLY recommend it. Getting a feel for the area ahead of time is a huge confidence builder. Get in shape now! You don't want a lack of physical ability to be the reason you eat tag soup. Good luck and prepare to be addicted. Elk hunting turns into an obsession real fast.
 
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marshrat

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Broken Arrow: I'm trying my best to get in shape, but I just don't feel that I'm progressing as much as I can. Life is getting in the way as far as being able to just get out there and climb. I have very few hills in my immediate area, and if I just hike, I can go 7-8 miles with 50 lbs, but that is flat land. Climbing the one hill that I have access to with 50 lbs burns me up real fast. Not to mention I just can't get out there very often. Now when the summer rolls around, I will try to make it there more as I will be out for summer vacation.

I wish I could scout, but that is just not an option on a teacher's salary. We were planning on taking our family vacation to CO, but with three kids, 5, 4, and 2, I'm guessing scouting will be nothing more than walking a little and then some camping. I'm not going to leave the family alone so I can get to the rugged ground and scout.

The group that I will be going with seems to prefer the experience more than the hunting, but I can at least learn a little, be able to get out there a little easier, so I can know what to expect, and have a support system in case something goes wrong or right, for that matter. This group is really the only choice that I have unless I just go alone. I really hate to go completely alone for several days with no help at all for the very first time. I'm not used to the mountains, and if I have a horrible experience, I would rather have the desire to go back the next year a little more wiser and prepared, knowing what works and what doesn't, rather than having a bad experience and never wanting to go back, ever. I also have no idea what I'm doing, so I don't want to ruin someone's hunt, and I think I will have more alone time than I want anyway. I still have to work out the logistics, and go from there, but I am determined. I will do my best to be prepared.
 
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