When elk hunting, the only thing for certain is that nothing is for certain, so mistakes will happen. Elk are majestic creatures with an uncanny ability to give hunters the slip over and over again. The key is preparing so you can limit the number of mistakes you make. To help, here are a few common elk hunting mistakes and how you can avoid them.

hunter target practicing in the woods

Make sure you take care of your gear before you go on your guided hunt. 


Make sure your gear is as good as it can be before heading out for your hunt. Check everything over, and then check again. Fuzzy strings on a bow can break and worn out drop away rests can fail. If you think you can put off tuning up these parts, they could turn out to be the reason for ending your hunt early. Even something as small as excess gun grease can freeze in your rifle in the cold weather and that can cause you to miss a shot. Don’t let that happen to you and take care of your gear.


The worst time to break in your new boots is during your hunt. This is a rookie mistake and will almost guarantee you get blisters.

Boots need to be broken in at least two to four weeks ahead of your guided hunting trip. Longer if your boots are more traditional, old-school leather and shorter if they’re a more flexible, breathable fabric. Wearing them around the house is fine, but adding weight and elevation will make a difference. If you can, wear them going up and downstairs, over a bridge, on a trail with elevation, and with your pack on.

Guiding the Guide

A universal mistake when it comes to elk hunting is not listening to the direction of the guide.

In short, the guides know what they’re doing. If you go on a guided hunt, you go for the ability to glean some knowledge from whoever is guiding you. Our advice: listen to your outfitters. They’ve done their homework, live and pay attention to the animals where you’re hunting, and know exactly what they’re going to do.

elk hunting tips

Elk have keen senses, so don’t make a ton of movement, or it may cost you your shot.


Unfortunately for us hunters, elk are smart and have keen senses. That means movement can ruin a calling setup.

Obviously, you need to move some when hunting, that’s inevitable. But moving like an elk would move by pacing your steps as an elk might can mean getting to where you want to be almost invisibly. But when you’ve got a bull coming, you’ve got to be still. Elk can spot any little movement. If you move, they will pinpoint you.


Same as above. Elk have keen senses, and that means great hearing. Be prepared for the unexpected, like a bull appearing out of nowhere. If you need to say something, whisper it.


It’s easy to become dehydrated when in the field. You’re at elevation, you’re on the move and you’re losing fluids.

Water bladders like CamelBak’s are convenient and fit more easily in your hunting pack but you might not know when it’s running low. You don’t want to be left without water if you’ve got half a day of elk hunting left. Water bottles can show how much water you’ve got and how much you can ration depending on how far you’ve got to go.


Coming to the Rockies to hunt is an incredible experience. But if you’re coming from a state where there isn’t much climate change, you might be in for a rough ride if you don’t bring layers. One day can be 85 degrees and sunny and the next it could be 30, windy, and freezing.

Bring layers you can easily peel off and put in your pack. That way you’ll be prepared for whatever weather the Rockies may have in store.

Preparing with Soap Mesa Outfitters

We hope you keep these mistakes in mind so you avoid making them in the future. Even if you make a mistake on a guided hunt with us, our guides will help you out. 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.