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game trails

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game trails

Postby horseshoe » 07 16, 2012 •  [Post 1]

last year was our first hunt out west and one of the main points of discussion between us has been the way elk move on the mountain. most of the posts in forums and in the available literature, focus on how the elk move up and down the mountain but some of the heaviest trails run sidehill around the ridges. and, it seems, there are quite a few rubs along these trails. are these predominately trails bulls use to keep tabs on cow groups or are they travel trails the elk use to move to different feed or water? or???
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Re: game trails

Postby Swede » 07 16, 2012 •  [Post 2]

Game trails including deer, bear and cattle lead to where the animals are going to or from where they are leaving. Many trails go side hill, and others are very steep. Cows, calves and bulls all use them. Where I hunt, concentrated and heavily used trails are often near bedding areas or water holes. Also trails can go through funnels or to where elk jump a fence, etc. If you are interested in watching a good trail you can have shooting opportunities. Just be sure the sign indicates repeated frequent use, and not one herd passing through earlier. As others and I have posted before, look to be sure the droppings, rubs, and tracks demonstrate a variety of recent ages.
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Re: game trails

Postby ElkNut1 » 07 16, 2012 •  [Post 3]

In addition to swede's great response, we must appreciate when elk are in transition from feeding to bedding or vice versa they can go up/down left/right along benches or sidehilling. In other words elk can go up a mile then hit a bench & travel the bench a ways & then head up again! Too, they may walk a bench 1/4 - 1/2 mile or whatever & bed on it! Elk do not just go up or down!

When you find trails as you did with rubs all along it new & old you can bet it's likely a herd is moving to & fro as well as satellites tailing them, all or any bull can feel his oats or hear bulls bugling nearby & stop to rake or thrash a tree or alders & such! It's a trail that warrants further investigation! Too, these trails can be to water/wallows, licks & anything else an elk desires!

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Re: game trails

Postby horseshoe » 07 16, 2012 •  [Post 4]

thanks for the input swede and elknut1. as you can tell we were perplexed. we did get into elk, but the discussion between us often went back to a comparison to the whitetail (flatlanders we are!). specifically the tendency of the whiletail bucks to scent check doe trails and bedding areas to find the receptive ones. and there is where the question of the game trails arose. so, do the elk ever use those trails for that purpose...satellites moving from group to group along the trails trying for an unguarded cow ? the herd bulls patrolling the mountain pre-rut to keep track of all the girls before the harem building starts?
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Re: game trails

Postby Swede » 07 16, 2012 •  [Post 5]

I am no game biologist but I have often read, it is the cows that select the bull. I have no problem with that, but there are caveats. The dominent individual bulls herd up in early September and will stay with his cows guarding them fiercely against rival bulls. Rival bulls will try to hook out a cow for himself. Other dominent bulls may contest a herd. The bulls will maintain their herd for weeks. The cows are in estrus for only a few hours (less than a day). Herds without a herd bull continue to stay together in the fall through late summer, in one form or another anyway. So to answer your question: bulls don't follow trails like Whitetail deer to pick up the scent of a cow coming into heat. They can and do smell each other. I believe they just get downwind of a cow and check that way. They listen for elk calls that are made and can be attracted that way too, but they are not like Whitetail deer.
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