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Re: Early Season Tactics-3 Stages!

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Re: Early Season Tactics-3 Stages!

Postby ElkNut1 » 06 03, 2012 •  [Post 1]

Elk bedding areas can be found in multiple types of terrain and at differing elevations, they can be on any side of the mountain but generally elk seek out the cooler areas during the hotter months which include September. Elk seek out open terrain where winds can help keep the pesky insects at bay. The bedding area can be a 5 acre spot or 100's of acres along a mountain side that is heavily timbered in pines and aspen groves with finger ridges and benches crisscrossing them or wide open hillsides that are above the timberline.

When hunting above the timberline we have found the spot and stalk method to be the best for early season elk hunting. Closely observing any elk you spy out and their movement is ones best bet in these conditions when elk aren’t as vocal. This requires good glass such as 10X42 binoculars & a spotting scope and an abundance of patience; you’ll need to be prepared to stay from daylight till dark if necessary while remaining focused on your goal of spotting and monitoring elk, once you do you’ll need to strategize in order to put together a successful ambush, calling should be kept to a minimum in this case.

Here is an area that would warrant the time and patience needed to spot elk coming out to feed, water or just to get away from the insects! This basin would be a great place to set up for a spot and stalk.
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ElkNut1
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Re: Early Season Tactics-3 Stages!

Postby ElkNut1 » 06 03, 2012 •  [Post 2]

Hunting heavily timbered areas during the early season has its own set of challenges, being successful in Early Season requires that we as hunters consider these thoughts in this type of setting: If we go about running & gunning bedding areas before bulls have collected cows, meaning that for the most part bulls & cows are still separate from one another, then we are spinning our wheels unless we are exclusively after a cow or a spike. These areas need to be treated with "kid gloves" to keep the elk there at this time and for later in the season since elk are generally not responding well to calling even though they may be right around a corner. Hunters need to slip through these areas quietly, possibly cow calling softly or cow calling with an occasional soft bugle as it is most likely we will bump small groups that could include lone bulls or small bachelor groups that are not far off from the smaller cow groups we may or may not get a visual as they run off or slip away most often without a shot opportunity. Remember it's pre-rut times and quiet elk are very common, the risks can far outweigh the rewards if we force the issue of wanting to be right in their bedding area at the wrong time in the season. We can needlessly run elk out of a great area for the rest of the season ruining a great spot for both ourselves and other hunters; this is avoided by staying clear of their bedding areas during inopportune times which includes early season.

In this picture we are looking into a great draw that we know holds elk, we don’t want to blow them out of there by walking through the middle of it with no plan so we watch and listen; if we catch them moving or communicating we execute a plan of attack!
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ElkNut1
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Re: Early Season Tactics-3 Stages!

Postby ElkNut1 » 06 05, 2012 •  [Post 3]

If you really feel the need to call be smart with it by staying on the fringes (200yds to 1-mile) of known bedding areas. Find a spot where sound can travel and play on an elk's curiosity, elk are herd animals so their curiosity can be peaked with selective cow/calf sounds that make it seem as if new elk are around. They generally have to know who other perceived elk are, so you can draw them out by posing as different elk in their area. The odds are good that elk will come to investigate, we call this a blind or cold calling set up; this technique can work well when patience is exhibited by us as hunters. Our experience has proven this over the years as we have we have drawn in hundreds of elk with this method in one form or another. When using a blind or cold calling set up remember that elk can, and probably will, slip in silently, so we hunters always have to be on full alert while waiting a good 45min to an hour in our stay, a decoy can be an added plus here in drawing an elks eye as well as their ears towards you.

One great option at these safe distances is to Bugle in an advertising way (non-threatening) as bulls do early on in the season, they will bugle to announce themselves in an area and other bulls will take note as will the cows. Again this can raise the curiosity of the bulls within earshot; they will want to know who you are; as always patience is the key as curious bulls can slip in silently so stay vigilant for every snap of a twig or movement from the corner of the eye when trying this.

This is a photo of some of the thicker elk country we hunt, notice my son is on a good vantage point where we can see well and listen intently for bulls or cows to communicate. The bedding areas here are to the left of the small lake, it happens to face the North, those finger ridges that you can see bench out just out of the photo but we are watching to see if elk show up or sound off to give us a direction. We will sit there until dark in hope of some action!
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ElkNut1
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Re: Early Season Tactics-3 Stages!

Postby ElkNut1 » 06 05, 2012 •  [Post 4]

Another tip for early season is to hunt "destination" spots such as wallows or water sources closest to the bedding areas and don't overlook well used trails from feeding to bedding areas as these are great "stand spots" and you do not disrupt a thing as long as the wind is always taken into consideration when entering and exiting. Wallows are a good spot for early season bulls as they are generally the ones using them, evenings are best when it comes to wallows. If you’re looking for "any elk" water holes are best as all elk water but not all use wallows. If you find spots like this –

(WALLOW PICTURE—Mineral deposit - Photo # 4 & 5) be patient and return repeatedly as elk can cycle areas like these every 3 or 4 days,

To recap, hunting the fringes of the bedding areas while STAYING OUT of them is the best plan in early season hunting, our odds of seeing a lot of elk may decrease a bit but at least we’re not pushing elk out of prime areas, instead we’re hunting smart, letting the elk do the moving to us which ensures elk will stay in their favorite bedding areas so we can keep tabs on them as we await rutting action to pick up in the days ahead!
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Re: Early Season Tactics-3 Stages!

Postby ElkNut1 » 06 05, 2012 •  [Post 5]

Here's wallow that goes with the above thoughts!
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ElkNut1
ElkNut/Paul
 
Posts: 4632
Joined: 05 11, 2012
Location: Idaho