Article written by Andrew for sdoutfitter.com Modified and posted w/permission
Elk hunting is a thrilling and challenging experience that requires a great deal of preparation and skill. It is important to understand the best practices for hunting elk in order to have a successful and safe trip. In this article, we will be discussing 20 essential elk hunting tips that will help you to be better prepared, increase your chances of success, and have a more enjoyable hunting experience. These tips will cover all the important aspects of elk hunting. So, whether you are planning your first elk hunting trip or looking to improve your skills, be sure to read on and discover all the tips you need to have a successful hunting experience.
This is a list of strategic and actionable elk hunting tips. In fact, these same strategies helped our customers have a guaranteed successful elk hunt!
So if you want to have a guaranteed successful elk hunt every time, you’ll love this list of tips, techniques, and strategies.
Let’s get started:
1. Use A Guided Outfitter
One of the best elk hunting tips is to consider hiring a guided outfitter. A guided outfitter will have a deep understanding of the area you’ll be hunting in, as well as the habits and patterns of the elk. They will know where to find the best hunting spots and can provide valuable tips and advice. Additionally, they can help you with equipment, transportation and even help you to track and field dress your elk if you are successful. Guided outfitters can be especially useful for first-time elk hunters or those who are unfamiliar with the area. They will be able to provide you with expert elk hunting tips
Another benefit of hiring a guided outfitter is that they will take care of all the logistics for you. This allows you to focus on the hunt. This can include setting up camp, arranging for transportation, and even preparing meals. This will help you to relax and enjoy the hunting experience without worrying about all the details.
Finally, guided outfitters can also ensure your safety by providing necessary equipment and training on safety procedures, such as how to handle firearms. They can also help you navigate the terrain and ensure you’re aware of any potential hazards. Hiring a guided outfitter can be a great way to increase your chances of success allowing for a safe and enjoyable hunting experience.
If you’re thinking about hiring a guided outfitter, you’re in luck! SD Outfitters is the top choice for Utah elk hunting guides and outfitters. Located in the beautiful Wasatch mountains just 90 miles from Salt Lake City, our hunting preserve offers stunning views and a range of elevations from 6,200 feet to a maximum of 9,800 feet. Choose SD Outfitters for an unforgettable elk hunting experience in Utah!
2. Preseason Scout Your Elk Unit From Every Angle
Preseason scouting is the process of researching and exploring the area where you plan to hunt before the hunting season begins. This can help you to identify the best hunting spots, understand the behavior of the elk in the area, and plan your hunting strategy accordingly.
One of the most important aspects of preseason scouting is to get to know the terrain and layout of the area where you will be hunting. This means exploring the area on foot, by vehicle, or even by using aerial maps or satellite imagery. You should take note of the different types of vegetation and cover. As well as any natural features such as streams, rivers, or cliffs that may be present.
Another important aspect of preseason scouting is to study the behavior of the elk in the area. This can include observing their feeding and bedding habits, as well as their movement patterns. Understanding the behavior of the elk in the area will help you to predict where they will be during the hunting season and plan your hunting strategy accordingly. Understanding where the elk get their water, food, and where they sleep are all valuable elk hunting tips to succeed in your hunt.
3. Maximize Your Elk Hunting Success With The Right Optics
When it comes to elk hunting, having the right equipment is essential. One of the most important pieces of equipment is your optics. Good optics are essential for spotting and tracking elk in the wilderness. They can make a huge difference in your hunting success. We recommend the Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12*40 Second Focal Plane Riflescope, Vortex Optics Diamondback HD 10×42 binoculars, and the Vortex Optics Crossfire HD 1400 Rangefinder.
When it comes to optics, it’s essential to choose a quality pair of binoculars or a spotting scope. Look for binoculars or spotting scopes with high magnification, a wide field of view, and a bright image. They should also be waterproof and fog proof, as the weather can change quickly in the wilderness.
Additionally, it’s important to have a good rifle scope for when you take the shot. Look for a scope with a high magnification, a wide field of view, and a clear reticle. A scope with a good quality glass and illuminated reticle is also a great option for hunting in low light conditions.
4. Use And Find The Correct Equipment
Another important tip for successful elk hunting is to use the correct equipment. Having the right gear can make a big difference in your hunting experience and increase your chances of success.
When it comes to firearms, it’s important to choose a rifle or bow that is comfortable and easy for you to handle. Consider the caliber or draw weight that is suitable for elk hunting. Additionally, make sure to use the appropriate ammunition or arrows that are designed for elk hunting.
Optics are also crucial for successful elk hunting. A good pair of binoculars or a spotting scope can help you to spot elk from a distance. Consider purchasing a high-quality optic that is designed specifically for hunting and has a good magnification range. Also, make sure to keep your optics clean and protected from the elements.
It’s also important to have the right clothing and footwear for elk hunting. Look for clothing that is designed for hunting and will keep you warm and dry. Make sure to wear waterproof and insulated boots that provide good traction and support. Also, consider bringing extra layers and a pack to carry your equipment and other essentials.
Overall, using the correct equipment, [like the QuikCamo rear face mask hat] is a key element in the elk hunting tips for a successful hunt. Make sure to invest in quality gear and take care of it to ensure it’s in good working condition for your hunt.
5. Hunting In The Right State
Another important factor to consider when planning an elk hunting trip is the state in which you will be hunting. Elk are native to North America and can be found in many states, but some states have more robust populations and better hunting opportunities than others.
For example, states like Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah are known for their large elk populations and excellent hunting opportunities. These states have large public lands and wilderness areas that offer excellent hunting grounds. Additionally, many of these states have special hunting seasons and tags specifically for elk hunting, making it easier to plan your trip.
On the other hand, some states have stricter hunting regulations and fewer elk populations. It’s essential to research the specific hunting laws, seasons, and regulations for the state in which you plan to hunt. This will help you to plan your trip and increase your chances of success.
In addition to researching the elk hunting laws and regulations of a specific state, it is also important to take into account the type of terrain you will be hunting in. Some states have mountainous terrains, while others have flatter landscapes. Be sure to prepare for the type of terrain you will be hunting in and choose the appropriate equipment and clothing for it.
Overall, hunting in the right state is an important step in planning a successful elk hunting trip. Do your research and choose a state with a strong elk population and favorable hunting regulations. This will increase your chances of success and ensure a safe and enjoyable hunting experience.
6. Find The Perfect Time To Hunt
Timing is everything when it comes to elk hunting. Elk have specific mating and feeding patterns that change throughout the year, and it’s essential to understand these patterns to increase your chances of success.
The best time to hunt elk is during the rut, which typically occurs in September and October. During this time, bulls will be actively seeking out cows, making them more likely to move around and be more visible. Additionally, the rut is a time when elk will be less cautious, which makes them easier to hunt.
Additionally, it’s also important to consider the time of day when hunting. Elk are most active during the early morning and late evening, so it’s best to plan your hunting trips during these times. This will increase your chances of spotting and approaching elk without disturbing them.
On the other hand, it’s best to avoid hunting during the heat of the day as elk will be less active and more likely to bed down in the shade. Also, avoid hunting during the winter months when elk will be in a dormant state and less active.
Overall, choosing the right time to hunt is crucial for successful elk hunting. Make sure to plan your hunting trip during the rut and at the right time of day to increase your chances of success. It’s also important to research the specific hunting seasons and regulations for the state in which you plan to hunt.
7. Have A Detailed Trip
Scheduling your elk hunting trip is important because it allows you to take advantage of the elk’s specific mating and feeding patterns, which change throughout the year. By understanding these patterns and choosing the right time to hunt, you can increase your chances of spotting and approaching elk without disturbing them. Additionally, scheduling your trip allows you to plan for the terrain, climate, and local hunting regulations of the area. This will help you choose the best hunting spot and prepare for the conditions you may encounter.
Planning ahead also allows you to organize the logistics of your trip, such as securing necessary permits, arranging for transportation and accommodation, and making sure you have all the necessary equipment. Without proper planning, you may miss important deadlines for permits, or find yourself unable to access the hunting area.
Moreover, having a scheduled plan also provides a sense of structure and purpose to your hunting trip. This allows you to focus on the goal of the hunt and make the most of your time in the wilderness. It also helps you stay organized, and prioritize different tasks such as scouting, setting up camp, and studying the elk’s behavior. This ultimately can maximize your chances of success and make the most of your hunting experience.
8. Ensure A Safe Trip With These Safety Precautions
Safety is of the utmost importance when hunting. It’s essential to have the necessary safety equipment and to take the necessary precautions to ensure a safe and successful hunting trip.
One of the most important pieces of safety equipment for elk hunting is a good quality hunting knife. We recommend the Havalon Piranta-Edge 2-Blade Folding Fillet Knife or the Gerber Randy Newberg DTS. A hunting knife can be used for a variety of tasks such as field dressing, cutting rope, or even as a self-defense tool. It’s also important to carry a first-aid kit, including basic supplies such as bandages, gauze, and pain relievers.
Another important safety precaution is to always let someone know where you will be hunting and when you plan to return. This is important in case of an emergency. It will allow search and rescue teams to know where to look for you. Additionally, it’s important to always wear appropriate clothing and footwear to protect yourself from the elements and injuries.
When hunting in a group, it’s also important to establish a clear plan of action and to communicate with each other at all times. This includes setting up a designated meeting spot in case of separation. Along with using hand signals or other means of communication to avoid making noise that may alert the elk.
9. Study The Area You’re Hunting On
Knowing the area you’re hunting in is crucial for a successful elk hunting trip. Elk are creatures of habit and tend to stick to specific areas throughout the year, so understanding their patterns and habitats is essential.
Before your trip, research the area you’ll be hunting in. Look at topographical maps to understand the terrain, and study the local weather patterns to be prepared for the conditions you may encounter. Additionally, research the local hunting regulations and make sure you have the necessary permits and licenses.
During your trip, take the time to study the area on foot. Look for signs of elk activity, such as tracks, droppings, and rubs. Pay attention to the vegetation and water sources, as these are essential for elk survival. Also, try to understand the elk’s behavior and patterns, such as their feeding and mating habits, to increase your chances of encountering them.
Furthermore, it’s important to note that Elk are creatures that are very sensitive to human presence. So it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and avoid disturbing them by making noise or leaving human scent. To minimize your impact on the elk, you should try to blend in with the environment and move quietly through the area.
10. Be Comfortable And Experienced With YouR Rifle Or Bow
Being comfortable and experienced with your rifle or bow is essential for a successful elk hunting trip. Elk are large animals and are capable of running at high speeds, so it’s important to have a weapon that you can handle with ease and accuracy. We recommend the 270 Winchester Rifle and the Xpedition X30 Compound Bow. Learn more about the 270 Winchester cartridge!
Before your trip, practice with your rifle or bow to ensure that you are comfortable and proficient with it. This includes understanding how to adjust the sight, hold the weapon steady, and fire it accurately. It’s also important to test your ammunition to make sure it’s suitable for the game you’ll be hunting and to make sure your rifle or bow is properly sighted-in.
It’s also essential to be familiar with the range of your rifle or bow. Elk can be difficult to stalk and may require taking shots at longer distances, so it’s important to be confident in your ability to make accurate shots at a variety of ranges.
Additionally, it’s important to understand the anatomy of the animal you’re hunting, to ensure you make a clean and humane kill. Elk have a larger vital area than other animals, this means that shots to the neck or heart are not always fatal. So, it’s important to understand the anatomy of the animal, and to aim for the vitals area to make a humane kill.
11. Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is crucial when hunting elk, especially during the warm months. The combination of physical exertion, high altitude, and dry air can cause your body to lose fluids quickly, which can lead to dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration can include fatigue, dizziness, and headaches, all of which can affect your ability to hunt effectively.
It’s essential to bring enough water with you on your hunting trip, and to drink it regularly throughout the day. A good rule of thumb is to drink at least 1 liter of water per hour of physical activity. You can also bring a water filter or purification tablets to ensure that you have a safe and reliable source of drinking water.
It’s also a good idea to bring electrolyte replacement drinks, as these can help to replenish the minerals that your body loses through sweat. This will help to prevent cramping and fatigue, allowing you to hunt for longer periods.
12. Make Sure You’re In Hunting Shape
Elk hunting can be a physically demanding activity, and it’s important to be in good physical shape to be able to hunt effectively. This means that you should be physically prepared for the hunt, both in terms of strength and endurance.
One way to get in hunting shape is by doing regular cardio and strength training exercises. Cardio exercises, such as running, cycling, or swimming, can help to increase your endurance and stamina. Strength training exercises, such as weightlifting or bodyweight exercises, can help to build muscle and increase your overall strength.
Another important aspect of being in hunting shape is being able to walk and hike for long distances over rough terrain. This can include steep inclines and declines, uneven ground and rocky terrain. You should practice walking and hiking with a loaded backpack and carrying your hunting equipment. This will help you to build the strength and stamina you need to hunt effectively.
It’s also important to pay attention to your diet and to make sure that you’re getting enough nutrients to fuel your body. Eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates will help to provide you with the energy you need to hunt effectively.
13. Stay Comfortable And Safe With These Shelter Solutions
Elk hunting can take place in a variety of environments, and it’s important to be prepared for the conditions you might encounter. This means that you should bring shelter to protect yourself from the elements. We recommend the Kelty Discovery Trail 2P tent.
One option for shelter is a tent. A tent can provide you with protection from the rain and wind, and it can also help to keep you warm in the event of cold weather. When choosing a tent, make sure to select one that is suitable for the conditions you will be hunting in. This can include choosing a tent that is rated for high winds, or one that is made from a waterproof material.
Another option for shelter is a tarp. A tarp can be set up as a shelter and it is a more lightweight option than a tent. Tarps also give you more flexibility in terms of setup, you can use it to create a shelter that suits your needs.
Another important aspect of shelter is a sleeping bag. Sleeping bags are designed to keep you warm and comfortable during the night. It’s important to choose a sleeping bag that is rated for the temperatures you will be hunting in.
14. Learn To Use All Equipment, Especially How To Blow An Elk Call
Elk hunting can be a challenging endeavor, and having the right equipment can make a big difference in your success. One piece of equipment that is essential for elk hunting is an elk call. Elk calls can be used to mimic the sounds that elk make, which can help to attract them to your location.
To effectively use an elk call, it’s important to first understand the different sounds that elk make. Elk have a variety of calls that they use for different purposes, such as bugling, cow calling, and calf calling. Each of these calls serves a specific purpose, and understanding what each call means can help you to use the call more effectively.
Once you have a basic understanding of the different elk calls, it’s time to practice using the call. There are many different types of elk calls available, including diaphragm calls, tube calls, and hand calls. Each type of call has its own unique set of instructions, so it’s important to read the instructions and practice using the call before you go hunting.
15. Get The High Vantage Points Early On
When hunting elk, it’s important to have a strategic approach. One key aspect of this strategy is to get to the high vantage points early on. High vantage points offer a clear view of the surrounding area, which can help you to spot elk from a distance.
Getting to high vantage points early on in the hunt can give you an advantage over other hunters. Elk tend to move around the most at dawn and dusk. So by getting to a high vantage point early in the morning, you’ll be able to spot elk as they begin to move around. This can give you a head start on other hunters and allow you to get closer to the elk before they become aware of your presence.
Additionally, getting to high vantage points early on can also help you to identify key areas where elk are likely to be found. Elk tend to move through certain areas more frequently than others. By getting to a high vantage point early on, you’ll be able to identify these key areas and plan your hunting strategy accordingly.
16. Conceal Your Presence With These Tips
When hunting elk, it’s important to conceal your presence as much as possible. This elk hunting tip may seem obvious but it is one that is easily overlooked. One way to do this is by using a hunting blind, tree stand or QuikCamo's leafy gear. These tools are designed to help you stay concealed while you wait for an elk to come into your area.
A hunting blind is a portable shelter that you can set up in the field. We recommend the Primos Double Bull Surroundview 360 Ground Blind. These shelters are typically made of camouflage material and are designed to blend in with the surrounding environment. Hunting blinds are a great way to conceal your presence while you wait for an elk to come into your area. They can also help to keep you dry and comfortable in inclement weather.
A tree stand is another way to conceal your presence while hunting. We recommend the Hunter Safety System X-1 Treestand Safety Harness. A tree stand is a platform that you can climb into and sit in while you wait for an elk to come into your area. Tree stands are typically made of aluminum or steel and are designed to be lightweight and portable. They are also designed to be easy to set up and take down. Tree stands are a great way to stay concealed while you wait for an elk to come into your area.
Leafy camo suits and face masks are essential ford a successful and ethical elk hunt. This camo gear help hunters remain hidden and undetected, reducing the risk of injury and increasing the chances of a clean shot. Elk have excellent senses and can detect human movements, so it is crucial to wear these items to remain concealed. Proper equipment ensures that the animal is ethically hunted. If you plan to go elk hunting, invest in quality leafy camo suits and face masks to improve your chances of success.
17. Understand The Wind And Scent Control
This is an essential part of hunting elk, as their keen sense of smell can be a major obstacle for hunters. Elk have a highly developed sense of smell that can detect the scent of a hunter from a mile away.
To be successful when hunting elk, it’s important to understand the wind patterns in the area you’re hunting. This means paying attention to the direction of the wind and how it’s blowing. Elk use the wind to detect the scent of predators. If you’re downwind from an elk, it’s likely that they will detect your scent before you even see them. To avoid this, it’s important to set up your hunting position upwind of the elk you’re trying to hunt.
Another important aspect of scent control is to take the necessary steps to eliminate or mask your own scent. This can include using scent-eliminating sprays, soaps, and detergents, as well as hunting from an elevated position to reduce the amount of scent you leave on the ground.
18. Stay Mentally Tough And Patient
Elk hunting can be a challenging and physically demanding activity, and it requires a great deal of mental toughness and patience. The key to success when hunting elk is to stay calm and focused, even when things don’t go as planned.
One of the best ways to stay mentally tough and patient is to set realistic goals for your hunting trip. This will help you to stay motivated and focused, even when things get tough. It’s also important to have a positive attitude and to stay optimistic. Even if you’re not seeing the results you want.
Another way to stay mentally tough and patient is to take regular breaks throughout the day. This will give you a chance to rest your body and to clear your mind, which can help to reduce stress and fatigue. It’s also important to focus on the present moment, and to enjoy the experience of being out in nature, rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
In addition, it’s important to be aware of the impact that the weather can have on your mood and energy levels, and to take steps to stay warm and dry. This can include wearing the right clothing, and bringing shelter to protect you from the elements.
Elk Hunting Tips Conclusion
In conclusion, elk hunting is an exciting and challenging experience that requires a great deal of preparation and skill. By following the 20 tips discussed in this article, you will be better prepared and increase your chances of success on your next hunting trip. From using the correct equipment and hunting in the right state, to focusing on the optics and staying mentally tough and patient, these elk hunting tips cover all the important aspects of elk hunting. We hope that these tips have helped you to better understand the best practices for hunting elk, and that you will have a successful and enjoyable hunting experience.
We would love to hear from you and learn about what elk hunting tips have helped you personally.
Please leave a comment below and let us know which tips have been most helpful to you in your elk hunting journey.
Your feedback and experiences are valuable to us and other hunters, so please share your thoughts and let us know what you think!