Scouting trip

hunternanaj

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Ok so I am going on my first archery elk hunt in mid to late September and backpacking in. With that being said I my job requires me to be very busy most of summer but I want to scout the only problem is I only have a few days it will work in early August and its a 10 hour drive. I would get there Thursday afternoon and I would have to be on the road by no later than noon on Saturday. Is it worth it to only have pretty much one full day to scout? Or should I just hold off and wait til season? Please give your input!!! Thx guys!
 

lkwoolsey

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I'd say go for it. If you do enough research beforehand, and have a general idea of where you want to hunt, then you can use that day to scout for sign, figure out their patterns, waterholes, good bedding areas, etc. Oftentimes I didn't get a chance to even go scout a single day, I only was able to research an area online and by word of mouth of guys who had been there, and I was, generally speaking, still succesful. For me personally, I take every opportunity. If you're unsuccessful this year, just trying again the next! Good luck!

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DEHusker

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The problem is, you could scout for that time in August but by the time the season starts the patterns could be completely different and you could be completely wasted trip. I always use the first couple days of my hunting trip as my "scouting" portion of my season anyway. It usually works pretty well because that I'm hunting animals that I've scouted before him.
 

Ross

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Boots on the ground will give you an upper hand to either get a feel for the area and prove you want to hunt here or say your better off elsewhere go for the scouting trip
 

JO.

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Could be hit or miss. Depending on what areas your looking at and how much you have to look at during your trip one day may not offer a whole lot. Someone else mentioned taking a few days before to scout, that's what we usually do. I went with a couple friends for a few years and we hunted about 6 hours from where I live so we would get there on Thursday morning set up and scout Thurs and Friday before Saturday morning.
 

5MilesBack

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For me, scouting is more about camping locations and access points. I'm going to find some elk regardless of whether I scouted or not, but having my camping spots picked out and several options for access points is the key for me. Having said that, camping spots get taken and an access point found while scouting can be filled with hunters during the season. So I'd rather use my time while hunting to scout, and adjust as I go. Some of my best seasons were hunting areas or units I'd never set foot in before the season started.
 

cnelk

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So many times I have talked to NonRes hunters and this it what I heard them say...

"I dont understand.... we got here 2 days before season... we scouted all the good spots.... we saw all kinds of elk....then come opening day... POOF!... they were all gone..."

YA THINK?!

Stay outta the elk woods until you can carry your weapon.

If you can scout early Aug, great! Learn the country. Even if its only a day.
If you cant scout in Aug, stay longer during your hunt.
 

AdamW

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My hunting partner Ross and I took separate vacations in the summer to our hunting area to get a lay of the land. It ended up being a so-so scouting trip and a so-so vacation for me. If I had it to do again, I'd probably do all the other planning, research and e-scouting I did and skip the "scouting" trip and focus that time on more research from the computer. Since I was a total noob I didn't know what I was looking for and much of what I was looking for changed before first rifle season.

If you can go, do it, if you can't or it won't be enjoyable and overly useful, don't feel too bad skipping IMO.

Sincerely,

Elk-less in Missouri
 

Hayguide

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Its a tough call whether your scouting for archery or gun. By the time you get up the hill things change. I would go with the above info on finding routes in and out, camping spots and for that manner- old camping spots from other hunters. You should avoid those spots because with my limited experience in my current are(6) years) hunters return to there camp spots. Bumping elk in August is one thing, but I would retrain from scouting just before the season unless your doing it with a spotting scope. Busting elk changes everything anyway. I would rather put on my boots and hike, then slow down and hunt when I hit fresh sign. This is how I do it, and I have been lucky enough to kill some nice bulls in Colorado.
 

Jordan Budd

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Nothing like boots on the ground IMO. If you can make it happen, I wouldn't think twice. For the most part you can tell from google earth what an area is going to look like, but not always the case. I pulled into an area once and it looked totally different than what I thought and not really huntable the way that I wanted to hunt it. Plan out on google earth or maps some potential travel routes, camp spots, glassing spots, etc to check out and mark confirmed spots on your map and/or gps. That way when you show up to hunt you can hike into some places in the dark if need be and half way know where your at. When I lived a ways from the hunt area it always gave me more confidence when the season rolled around when I had been in the area I was going to. Just my .02, I know a lot of guys/girls that roll into areas opening morning they'd never been in before and get it done. Another google earth tip... when planning your route, use the measuring tool to see how far your going to go. I planned out a route once and it ended up being like a 15 mile loop for one day.. a bit further than I anticipated.
 

jmez

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Would be well worth your time to go IMO. I wouldn't go looking for elk. First, as was mentioned above, find access points and potential camping areas. That alone will save you an entire day on your hunt. If you are going to be hunting mid/late Sept. Look for rut sign. Torn up trees and wallows. If you find elk bonus but don't plan on them being in the same place come late Sept. Pick you camp and access points based on where it looks like the elk were in Sept last year.

It will also give you an idea of the country you will be hunting. You really don't know how intimidating the mountains can be until you are standing there looking at them. Even when you go every year you forget.
 

cnelk

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When I scout new areas in August I bring a watch, gps and a wind checker.
The watch is to time myself to get into the spot I want to check out.
That way I know how long it will take when it's Show Time.

I will only mark spots worth going back to.

I will check the wind as I go along as the thermals or dominant breeze will be the same in august as in September.
It will let me know how to approach a spot safely.

I will slice and dice spots. Hardly stop moving. Only looking for general elk signs, trails, rubs and more specifically a mix of pine and aspen.

But that's just what works for me
 

Hayguide

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In Wisconsin I scout deer in April, soon as the snow goes away.
I would do the same in my elk hunting spot in May or June, but 21 hours driving is a little far. My 1st season elk hunts tell me the rutting story in the area. I hunt. I'm pretty confident I could go in Mid Sept and be in elk on an archery hunt. I always find the rubs and wallows in the same spots that I'm hunting Rifle. The sign starts at 9500- and up to 10800 in SW Colorado where I hunt. I just cant get away from my guided bear hunt service in Wisconsin that I offer. It would be great to see that country as soon as the snow melts to see the trails, old impressions of tracks and the tree rubs. Just sent my $646 for a 1st season tag again- excited already!
 

xziang

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I'll have to admit I'm at a mix a Yes or No in your instance. Being able to add a couple days to your hunting might be worth it but yet going in august to check out the area you want will allow you better insight on it.

I was stuck in this situation 3 years ago and I went in July for a long weekend scouting trip. (4 days 8hr drive for me) I was glad I did it for I was able to find a couple trail heads in the area I could go in on and also located some nice camping spots too. (car camping and spike camping) It also allowed me to confirm or deny trails and game trails and ponds I saw on google earth too. This was more of a camping/vacation trip but combined with scouting. I was able to use the spotting scope to glass elk on the top ridges feeding during this time which also increased my confidence in the area.

HOWEVER I'm guilty that I still haven't been able to kill anything from this area either. Been close but no dice, also if you aren't doing it and you have a couple trail heads picked out check them out on google earth and adjust the time frame from previous images and try to see if there is one for September. (This can provide additional info as to how hard it gets used).

Good luck with your decision.
 
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hunternanaj

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Thx guys for all the input. I believe just for checking things out, finding a camping area, and seeing how my body reacts I am going to scout, what I have decided to do is wait Til the last weekend in August while season is going on. I am planning on bringing out 3 (lock box) trail cams to put on areas of interest (trails, Wallows, rubs) . I will have my gps while scouting to mark areas. Thx Again!
 

les welch

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Yes. I absolutely would. It's not about finding elk. It's about finding elk rut sign. It might turn into not finding the areas you're looking for, but at the very minimum it will cross spots off the map, which can be just as important. Have those maps nailed down for spots you want to look at. Water, North facing timber, saddles, intersecting drainages, parks, potential wallows, access points, potential camping areas, etc. Mark those spots on your GPS and note those waypoints, you will forget what you were marking. You could pretty easily cover 20 miles in a day going light and fast. That is a ton of ground that you can circle or cross off on a map.
 
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hunternanaj

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Thx les! That is the plan, and the main area I am looking at hunting is probably around 20 miles total perimeter.
 

Whip

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One solid day scouting could get you knowledge that would take 2 or 3 days of hunting time to acquire. You're moving faster and covering far more ground. Learning campsites and access points gives you a big head start. Computer scouting is great, but nothing beats a day or two of boots on the ground for figuring out how to actually move around an area.
If it was a question of asking a couple of days to your hunt versus scouting a month earlier, that would be different. I'd take the hunting days. But if you won't cut your hunt short by scouting early your trip should be well worth it.
 
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