Slow Down = Success

trophyhill

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Feb 27, 2012
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Tijeras NM
If you are in a hurry to see who can get to the top of the mountain first in a hunting situation, that's not what this threads about. You'll figure out sooner or later you could be running right past elk and never know it. Probably not gonna kill many elk that way either. However that all changes if you are running towards an elk who has no idea you are coming after you've located it.

But rather, this thread is about slow motion. It took me 5 years before I finally killed a bull. And a pretty good one at that. It wasn't because I wasn't into them, but moreso frankly because I lacked experience.

And things happen very fast in the elkwoods. Nothing was deliberate for me. I was always looking for that next encounter and trying to read the encounter correctly. A guessing game at first. Got me close many times those first 4 years too, but guessing wrong didn't kill the bulls I was after.

Fortunately for me, I had great advice along the way that will always be ready to fall back on while on this new lifelong passion. I say new because going on my 13th year of hunting elk with my bow after being a rifle deer hunter previously, I'm still having new encounters and learning new things in the elkwoods.

I say fortunately because though I wasn't killing those bulls, I was more than happy to have cow elk meat on my menu until the next season. I had taken advice from others, and ran with it. I would literally have multiple encounters daily while hunting heavily hunted and pressured OTC units those first few years. I cannot state the importance of having many encounters.

The failed attempts are my teacher. All those failed attempts as the encounters just sped right past my inquisitive elk brain, coupled with the great advice I've followed, and topped off with the limited experience I had, learning as I go, and trying a few things of my own, and now basically creating a hunting style I can call my own, is because of one thing.

And I don't know exactly when it happened. But anyone who hunts long enough will surely understand at some point one day.

And those who have hunted forever and a day have understood for a long time because it happened to them too.

And that is it all slowed down. It's almost like these situations happen in slow motion now. Sure there are still failed attempts and missed/blown opportunities, but when it all slows down for you, you begin to make decisions that "increase your odds". Tactics, sounds, locations and many other variables to consider all play a part.

Once it all slows down for you, it will equal 1 thing.

Slow Down = Success

Good luck out there this year everyone!🏹🏹🏹
 

Santa

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Jan 22, 2020
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30
Sage words. Though I don’t have elk experience to draw from, a lifetime in the woods and on the water has shown me that in most hunting/fishing situations, slow > fast 99% of the time. Think fast, move slow. That allows you to see the entire field and the moves on the board multiple steps ahead. It also affords you time to actually enjoy yourself while out in God’s creation (or “nature” if you prefer). What’s the old line? Slow is smooth, smooth is fast. Thanks for the post, trophyhill. I’m relatively new to this forum, but greatly appreciative of the knowledge shared by so many of you, on so many topics. I too wish you all luck in the coming season.
 

5MilesBack

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You know, every time I've tried the patience route, it has ended without an elk. And ya, there have been times also when being overly aggressive has cost me elk. But I eventually just came to the conclusion that the patience route just isn't in my DNA and isn't much fun, and I can live with that.
 

DmrbigEshotT

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Feb 9, 2015
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SE Michigan
Being aggressive kills elk and so does patience, but from what I've seen, you can generally say that if you slow down while hunting from spot to spot or hunting your way back to camp/truck, you will have more encounters. A lot of elk get busted from folks hiking with their heads down in a hurry to get from spot to spot.
 

Nutsknr

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Jun 14, 2020
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I grew up deer hunting in the thick junipers. From age 4 we were taught to barely move, as there were no open areas so you had to get close.

I hunt elk in heavy timber and the same is true. While being aggressive during the heat of the rut can work, that is a tiny window of time in the course of elk seasons.

In the heavy timber the elk knows where it is, and rarely do they run, they simply seem to circle.

Running past elk to get to the north slope, on top, generally means dudes ran past all the elk that weren’t on that slope.

Great advice, which I obviously agree with
 

Indian Summer

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Feb 17, 2013
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506
You have to know when to shift gears. In my opinion knowing your area tells you where you can cover ground quickly and when to go into stealth mode. As for the final approach... that depends on whether you are in timber or semi open country. I’ve had elk outwalk me in open country. But that’s better than jumping them because there’s always tomorrow. To me the bottom line is animal instincts. Watch a lioness hunched down in the tall grass inching forward until she unleashes every ounce of energy she has. That’s how I view moving in for the kill.
 

3darcher2

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NE Pittsburgh, PA area
If I understand trophyhill, it wasn't so much him slowing down as the fact that he became more comfortable in the encounters allowing him to just see it all happen instead of being in an "Oh no, there's a bull I have to get him right now" panic. The great sports players often refer to the game slowing down for them, and I think that's where he's headed. Sometimes that mean a quick charge up a hill after a herd or sometimes it might mean sitting tight for a half an hour and waiting. I've only elk hunted one time 20 years ago and I am finally getting ready to head back west but I am hoping to be able to have some of that rub off from whitetails and pull on that old elk experience.

I did get a bull in AZ back then, but we were in multiple bulls per day back then which helped us with a very steep learning curve. That said, I got my bull running and gunning, something that at 56 I don't know that I can pull off this time.
 

Jimss

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Mar 6, 2015
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I was a track and cross-country runner in HS and college. Back then I was in incredible shape and ripped through as much country as I could in a day. Once I figured out why I was seeing so many running tracks and no big game I realized I needed to slow down. A lot of game either saw, smelled, or heard me coming....sometimes all of the above!

With that said, you could walk as slowly as you want and if you don't keep wind direction in mind you will do the same thing! I guess what I'm saying is there is a lot more to it than speed! The critters have several keen senses and it's always wise to pull things in your favor rather than theirs. It's also wise to know the critter's behavior and the country he's hanging out in! When does he feed and water, what types of feed does he prefer, when does he bed down and is more active....which slopes or aspects does he spend time. I often try to think like the critter I'm hunting and figure out what exactly would he do?

My preference is spot and stalk hunting in relatively open country. As I grow older (and smarter) I've learned to use my eyes rather than my legs. As mentioned in some of the posts above, there are times to sit and glass and other times to sprint! There may be times when it's good to lay back and take a knap! The key is to figure out when to do what!
 

rsager8970

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Jun 23, 2020
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MT
If you are used to sitting in a tree and still hunting whitetails likely you need to speed up and cover ground until you find super fresh sign and then slow down and hunt like you would a whitetail. Also if you are a north woods tracker...do that on elk for deadly success.
 

NevadaZielmeister

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Dec 29, 2016
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Reno, NV
Thank you for these thoughts and information. I admit the same thing, that I need to slow down more and more. We talk about hunters being athletes, and we are, but not so much in the sense of things being a competition with lap times and splits, more endurance and positive mental attitude. This is a good post from the OP.
 

P Carter

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Nov 4, 2016
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Idaho
I used to hunt like a runner, now I’m trying hard to run like a hunter! A different mindset for sure, thanks for the thoughts. Knowing when to slow down and when to speed up is tough, but like you, I find that my default should be slowing waaaay down.
 
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trophyhill

trophyhill

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Tijeras NM
If I understand trophyhill, it wasn't so much him slowing down as the fact that he became more comfortable in the encounters allowing him to just see it all happen instead of being in an "Oh no, there's a bull I have to get him right now" panic. The great sports players often refer to the game slowing down for them, and I think that's where he's headed. Sometimes that mean a quick charge up a hill after a herd or sometimes it might mean sitting tight for a half an hour and waiting. I've only elk hunted one time 20 years ago and I am finally getting ready to head back west but I am hoping to be able to have some of that rub off from whitetails and pull on that old elk experience.

I did get a bull in AZ back then, but we were in multiple bulls per day back then which helped us with a very steep learning curve. That said, I got my bull running and gunning, something that at 56 I don't know that I can pull off this time.
If I understand trophyhill, it wasn't so much him slowing down as the fact that he became more comfortable in the encounters allowing him to just see it all happen instead of being in an "Oh no, there's a bull I have to get him right now" panic. The great sports players often refer to the game slowing down for them, and I think that's where he's headed. Sometimes that mean a quick charge up a hill after a herd or sometimes it might mean sitting tight for a half an hour and waiting. I've only elk hunted one time 20 years ago and I am finally getting ready to head back west but I am hoping to be able to have some of that rub off from whitetails and pull on that old elk experience.

I did get a bull in AZ back then, but we were in multiple bulls per day back then which helped us with a very steep learning curve. That said, I got my bull running and gunning, something that at 56 I don't know that I can pull off this time.
You do understand me correctly. It's the learning curve I was referring to. The most important thing the newer guys can do is get into elk a bunch and have those experiences. Only then will you understand what the experienced guys have been trying to tell you. Until you put yourself in those encounters, these guys may as well be speaking to you in jibberish. But once you've had the experiences, 2 and 2 start adding up and that's when it all slows down and you start making good decisions consistently.

Now guys like 5MB? His mind is moving so fast he missed what I was attempting to convey. He read the first paragraph or just the title of the thread, and thought this thread was going to be about sitting water. And anyone who knows him, knows he ain't sitting water lol ;)

Although there is something to be said for slowing down a little at times, if a bull is screaming at his cows and fixing to leave for the next drainage over, your azz better be high stepping and making your way over his way before he does leave the county ;)
 

5MilesBack

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Now guys like 5MB? His mind is moving so fast he missed what I was attempting to convey. He read the first paragraph or just the title of the thread, and thought this thread was going to be about sitting water. And anyone who knows him, knows he ain't sitting water lol ;)
I figured you were talking about encounters.........and so was I. :D

You see, I hunt like I'm a bull with an attitude.........and there are times in these encounters when I should be going back to the mindset of "I'm just a hunter with a bow and arrow in my hands"........instead of running in and ready to take him on with butting heads. After the fact it's kind of like.......oh ya, he didn't actually see me as another bull.........and that's why he ran. I tend to get into character just a little too much........but I'm still OK with that, because it's a blast. But I have been working on "just a little patience" for those scenarios, as that would reap lots of rewards as well. I've watched several 350+ bulls run out of my life over the years. But it's like trying to tell a dog to not chase a rabbit........it's still gonna happen.
 
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Oakleyrossi

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Jun 28, 2020
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You do understand me correctly. It's the learning curve I was referring to. The most important thing the newer guys can do is get into elk a bunch and have those experiences. Only then will you understand what the experienced guys have been trying to tell you. Until you put yourself in those encounters, these guys may as well be speaking to you in jibberish. But once you've had the experiences, 2 and 2 start adding up and that's when it all slows down and you start making good decisions consistently.

Now guys like 5MB? His mind is moving so fast he missed what I was attempting to convey. He read the first paragraph or just the title of the thread, and thought this thread was going to be about sitting water. And anyone who knows him, knows he ain't sitting water lol ;)

Although there is something to be said for slowing down a little at times, if a bull is screaming at his cows and fixing to leave for the next drainage over, your azz better be high stepping and making your way over his way before he does leave the county ;)
This :) I was fortunate to be taken under someone's wing last year and after every encounter we went back through what I learned from it and how the decisions impacted the outcome. So valuable, And yes at one point he looked at me and said we better hall azz up that ridge now.;)
 
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trophyhill

trophyhill

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Tijeras NM
I figured you were talking about encounters.........and so was I. :D

You see, I hunt like I'm a bull with an attitude.........and there are times in these encounters when I should be going back to the mindset of "I'm just a hunter with a bow and arrow in my hands"........instead of running in and ready to take him on with butting heads. After the fact it's kind of like.......oh ya, he didn't actually see me as another bull.........and that's why he ran. I tend to get into character just a little too much........but I'm still OK with that, because it's a blast. But I have been working on "just a little patience" for those scenarios, as that would reap lots of rewards as well. I've watched several 350+ bulls run out of my life over the years. But it's like trying to tell a dog to not chase a rabbit........it's still gonna happen.
Lol great fun hunting elk, that's for sure. No matter how we choose to hunt them. :) We all hunt them slightly different too. One of the great things......ok 1 of the many great things about hunting elk, "There's more than 1 way to skin an elk" ;)
 
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