Elk hunting can be challenging, but that’s why we’ve got a few tips to help you out. Here are elk hunting tips every hunter should know.
Mean What You Say
Calling can be an important part of the success for many elk hunters. However, the more successful callers have learned to be specific in their calls.
A lot of people learn how to make elk sounds with their calls, and do a pretty good job at “sounding like an elk.” But there’s a difference between “sounding” like an elk and actually talking like an elk. Let’s explain. Basic chirps and mews don’t say anything to other elk – they’re simply contact vocalizations. Instead of general calling, try and learn vocalization sounds like “lost” mews, frustrated whines, etc. By using these specific vocalizations, you can speak to other elk and ask them to do certain things like respond or come to the caller.
Understand the Impacts of Weather
Weather changes quickly in Colorado. So that means you need to know how elk react to both cold and warm weather to give yourself the best chance of a successful hunt.
If weather is warm, elk stay spread out over vast areas at high elevations. That means as a hunter, you’ll need to work extra hard to reach elk at these elevations. Not only will you spend extra time and energy to get where you need to be, but packing out an elk will be even harder. Make sure you are packing plenty of water for hydration and the necessary nutrition. When significant snow falls (more than a foot), elk will usually bunch up and look for food sources at lower elevations or on slopes where vegetation is exposed.
Tune Your Body
Getting your body in shape is crucial for hunting. There’s a difference between how you prepare for elk season and how elk prepare. They’re running around at 10,000 feet, and you’re sitting around at 5,200 feet (or possibly even lower).
Working out is important to gear up for your hunt, but it can be easier said than done for some people. Rather than change your whole lifestyle, make some smaller changes that will have an impact in the long run. Take the stairs rather than the elevator and park at the far end of the parking lot so you walk further to the door. Do aerobic exercises, like biking, swimming, or even walking. No matter what, you must get in shape.
Practice Makes Perfect
Hunting is an outdoor passion that takes a lifetime of practice to hone and sharpen all the necessary skills, not just a once-a-year activity. Marksmanship is an especially important skill. Taking a shot in the field is not the same as taking a shot at the range. If you’ve only practiced under ideal circumstances with level ground and no obstructions, then you might find yourself unprepared for real-life elk shooting. You need to know the trajectory of your load and bullet perfectly, something not every new elk hunter can do. Get plenty of practical practice so you’re prepared for the real deal.
Hunters must hunt slowly and quietly. Rushing won’t help you, especially not with an elk’s sense of smell and hearing. If one gets spooked, they will all move, and it’ll most likely be a missed opportunity. Pay careful attention to the wind direction and use it to conceal your scent. Move as quietly as possible for short distances, pausing to scan the woods and meadows for 10 minutes or more before moving. Elk may be big, but they have an amazing ability to freeze their movement for long periods and blend into the background. Giving yourself plenty of time to scan will help you discern subtle movements or unusual colors in the trees. This will also help keep you cooler and keep your body odor down.
Enjoy the Hunt
This may not be one of the typical elk hunting tips, but it’s just as important as the others. Let’s be real, you can buy the best beef steaks at your grocery store for less money than you will spend on a hunt. But we hunt for enjoyment. So take a camera and take lots of pictures, enjoy the sights and sounds of the Rocky Mountains, and soak in the whole experience.
Let’s Go Elk Hunting
We hope these few elk hunting tips serve you well on your next hunt. It’s never too early to start planning for next year, so if you’re looking to hunt elk and mule deer with professional guides in the mountains of Colorado, you’ve come to the right place. At Soap Mesa Outfitters, we provide the best guided hunts in Western Colorado and we’ll be happy to show you what you’ve been missing.