Public Lands Elk Hunting
No matters if you are an experienced deer hunter, going behind one of the biggest north american members of deer family is something absolutely different.
Elks are big but also elusive and in a matter of seconds they can vanish in the shadows leaving you behind with your rifle aiming to nowhere; moreover, elks seem to know time is their friend and play with it; they move always forwards, the more you push the more they go ahead as if they know the hunting season eventually has an end.
To turns things even more complicated, elks habitat tend to be difficult terrains and weather does not help, so if you are thinking to get involved on one of the most demanding hunting experiences, elk hunting is for you.
If you are not accompanied by an experienced hunter, probably you will end your first season with empty hands, at least regarding game, but don't worry, that first experience will enhance your next seasons, after all it's a matter of completing a learning curve; however if you keep in mind some tips when out stalking elks, perhaps things will be a little bit easier!
First thing to know is that elk habitat areas are limited and not all of them are available for everyone, in fact, you can go for elks on both private or public lands; on the first case you will need an authorization from the owner, otherwise you could get involved in serious troubles; but if you choose to move to public lands, no permission is required other than those from wildlife regulatory authorities during a particular season.
Now you decided to hunt on public lands, first thing to do is to be prepared for a long, extenuating hunting trip; thus be ready and set enough water, supplies and clothes to spend several days outside; after all elks are not limited by fences and will keep going away because of hunters pressure; furthermore, you are not the only one out there trying to chase elks, thus they are prepared to take out the best of your capabilities.
If it's your first season, perhaps you wish to talk with locals about the best hunting areas; no matter if you scouted the zone the last summer, elks behaviours change when the first hunter arrive and they move towards more inaccessible areas, making elk hunting physically demanding; hence, once again, be prepared to give your best!
Once you have choose the proper place and find out the best areas, it's time to remember some elk behaviours that will help you a lot to find them.
The first thing to know is that elks are very social animals and they keep in touch constantly with a variety of sounds; thus if you ear one, probably there will be many others on the area, but don't get too enthusiastic, their sounds can be heard hundreds meters away, thus you will need to walk, and a lot! Nevertheless if you get familiar with elk sounds, you could use a call to attract elks towards your area, but keep in mind that a wrong call will render elk suspicious and they will fly away from you.
Another important issue is their social patterns; out of rut, elk bulls tend to live alone or in small bachelors groups while cows and calves tend to form herds; however once the rut begins, you will find harems formed by cows and less than one year calves with a couple of big bulls taking care of them, on both situations, no-rut and rut, calls are constant and could give you an edge if you are familiar with elk sounds.
Finally remember that elks need a lot of fresh water and food and they are always moving from one area to another, but keeping a regular pattern, thus if you are able to track their moving patterns from one season to another, you can anticipate where to find elks and increase your success chances.
Now you know the ABC of elk hunting, but it's mandatory to experience the feeling by yourself, it will be something you will love for sure.