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How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

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How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby Swede » 10 12, 2021 •  [Post 1]

I think Oregon enjoys about a 10%-15% success rate on many units. Some are better and some worse. Obviously it would be the easiest to get an elk with a modern rifle with all things being equal. To balance the opportunity to get elk, the State gives rifle hunters a shorter season and limits the tags available on many units. Smoke poles would be next in line and they to are restricted. Bow hunters have the most time and liberal hunting opportunity. Still their success lags a little behind the gun hunters.
On another hunting forum there is a big argument over the trophies some have taken. I did not want to participate in that kind of debate, but here is my take. Any elk taken fair chase is a good one. Not all are trophies. A cow or spike are not a trophy elk in my personal opinion. I get them most years, but am under no illusion that they are something to hang on my wall.
Just because you do not get a wall hanger or even an elk does not mean you are not a good hunter. Just because you get an elk every season does not mean you are a good hunter either. There are many factors that need to be considered to determine who is and who isn't a good hunter.
Anyone the regularly gets elk fair chase, on public land, OTC units, knows something and is doing something right. Anyone that can get a wall hanger regularly under those wraps is very good and has my admiration. I do not care if they are using a recurve bow or a 338 WM.
Just my thoughts.
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby Lefty » 10 12, 2021 •  [Post 2]

Quote from my father- in-law
"Why ruin a good hunt by killing something"
Overall if we wanted cows I would say its easy I would say many times easier to kill an elk than a deer ( archery)

Here in Idaho we can shoot any elk in our archery unit.

I started archery hunting because it isn't shooting.

My goal the past number of years is to have my daughter take a big archery bull. So even when she isnt at camp , my efforts tend go that direction.


Andrew got a decent 5x5 ,,, but the number of times he got "bull fever" and lost control and made big Boo-boos :lol: With bulls in his lap.
Julie would say she would shoot a cow,,,, but then a bugle or horns always changed her focus :D Hadf a 3x3 constant at one location,, and her answer would be " Nah,, lets go after the big one"
Of the 11 days Andrew hunted I think he had a dozen cow opportunities under 35 yards on cows.
Julie: of the 6 days in camp she had three days with easy cow opportunities, her self imposed max range is 27 yards. Twice the elk surrounded them, Julie had cows at 6 feet,
This year I ranged cows at 13,14,17 and out to 33 yards, and likely had 5 or 6 days where a little effort and minutes would have put me in a good position to shoot a cow.
Realistically getting a cow would be "easy"
this year I never drew on a bull. 2020 I drew on 4 different bulls .
So I guess I shoot a cow with a muzzle loader .
Yesterday; 75 yards Montana
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby saddlesore » 10 13, 2021 •  [Post 3]

Shooting a cow or any elk in the early archery season may be easy or at least have encounters. Mostly ,in my belief, because they have not been pressured. Add a few weeks after that, cows will be just as hard as a bull. Hunting a bull in rut with a stick and string vs a rifle has no comparison. . I have hunted with center fire rifle and muzzle loader rifle for many years. Probably 50 +. Different states differ in opportunity. In Colorado,unless you draw tag in a very limited unit, the chance of tagging anything past a small raghorn is slim to none and Slim already saddled up and left. Other than that, you had best shoot the first legal elk you can,because that is probably the only chance you will get.

I think archers have an unfair advantage of taking those bigger bulls because they can hunt in peak rut when bulls lose their common sense.With muzzle loaders,the hunt here in Colorado is before rut, and center fire rifle season, is well past except for a few cows that didn't get bred in the first estrus cycle.

I always wonder when archers tell me they need a month to hunt elk because to is harder. If that is the case,why did they chose to do so? It's like complaining about muzzle loaders scaring the elk when archers knew when the season was when they bought the tag. Come to Colorado and hunt any OTC unit in 2nd rifle and one may change their tune pretty fast.
I have killed big bulls,small bulls,spikes, cows and even a few yearling calves. I did it to fill my freezer.
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby Swede » 10 13, 2021 •  [Post 4]

Here is Oregon it is very hard to get a large bull. The draw units provide the best opportunity, but even there is is not easy. Complaining about ODF&W and many things hunting related is a full time sport. The only thing people gripe about more is fishing and politics. Personally, I think ODF&W does a good job, but they micromanage way too much.
I may disagree with Saddlesore a little on the ease of getting cow elk with a bow. Because of the numbers, cows are easier than bulls, but whatever comes near my stand is likely to get shot. Cows don't come by near often enough. The reason I went with archery is because I could get an east side tag every season. That may change. Also the weather is much better.
I don't care much about the rut. A tree stand hunter doesn't benefit a lot from the rut, but it helps a little. The elk move around more then. In Oregon, bow hunters that are dedicated, do as well as rifle hunters, but they put in more time. To me that is nothing to complain about. I like being out hunting. If I didn't like the hunt, I would take up golf or something similar.
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby saddlesore » 10 13, 2021 •  [Post 5]

The only reason cows be easier is generally there are 5 times as many of them.The actual killing ,etc.is about the same.Usually single cows are rare,they are typically anywhere from 3-4 to 20, bulls mostly single except maybe in rut. So you always have a lot more noses and eyes watching out for you.That old lead cow has a lot more savvy than any bull.That is how she got there MHO.
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby MtnOak » 10 14, 2021 •  [Post 6]

I have passed up cows trying to put down a bull for the last 5 years during Colorado bow season, this year my unit was overcrowded and just finding elk was nearly impossible, never really had an opportunity at any kind of animal, I regret turning down a lot of cows right now simply because I’m thinking about moving to a new unit or state and learning the land all over again….__
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby Swede » 10 14, 2021 •  [Post 7]

Mtnoak, I think there are several ways to get a big bull if you are committed. In the end I suspect hiring a reputable guide that hunts a limited entry ranch area is the best and cheapest opportunity. It will be tough going to get er done on a otc public land hunt. A few people get lucky, a few people are willing to just about kill themselves for a big bull, and a few residents have learned some special places to hunt. None of these are easy.
If you really want an extreme hunt, I will PM you the unit and location where you will have the best chance at a big bull. Personally, I would just as soon make a deal with Satan for a big critter as to hunt there.
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby Lefty » 10 14, 2021 •  [Post 8]

Saddle sore makes very valid points.


I don't hunt for the meat. Meat tends to fill freezer space regardless. We just have plenty meat, deer, geese, antelope , fishing.
I hunt for the thrill of close encounters with game., s
I like my time in the woods, and September weather can be great,
Ok I don't like smoke.

But back to my father in laws comment.
Why ruin a good hunt by killing something
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby Swede » 10 14, 2021 •  [Post 9]

This is for information to those not well acquainted with elk and elk hunting: Truths about elk and elk hunting are not all universal. What we observe in our area may not fit another. For example Saddlesore mentioned that there were five times as many cows out there as bulls. Where I hunt the ratio is about ten to one. The herds are not healthy and small bulls are acting as herd bulls. Hunting pressure I think is similar in Colorado as in many parts of Colorado, but elk behave differently in units that take nearly twenty years to draw a tag for. Grazing by domestic stock can change things as well as predators.
I would go with Saddlesore's information any time until I see it does not fit. Groucho Marx said one time "are you going to believe me or your stupid lying eyes." That line has been plagiarized numerous times, but it fits here. Observe everything you can and believe your stupid lying eyes.
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby 7mmfan » 10 15, 2021 •  [Post 10]

Here in WA we have strict limitations on most of our elk seasons. Anywhere with a good herd in Eastern WA is spike bull only, and cow permits are by draw only in most of these areas now. I quit hunting spikes in WA several years ago because it was like finding a needle in a haystack while fighting 1000 other guys for that needle. In 10 years or more, our group killed 3 general season spikes. If we drew cow or bull tags we generally filled them as there are plenty of elk around.

Until this year, I'd killed spikes 3 years in a row in Idaho. Not always more elk seen, but elk that were acting like elk instead of running all over the countryside being pushed by hunters made spotting and stalking them much easier. The only reason I didn't kill bigger bulls is because I am weak and I like elk meat.

So Swede's statement about different areas stand true. Elk behave differently in different areas. While I would generally see more elk on a WA hunt, the required quarry was hard to find and sought by everyone. I would see fewer elk in ID but the hunt was easier because of unpressured or lightly pressured animals.
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby GoGriz1234 » 10 16, 2021 •  [Post 11]

If you are me, you have trouble killing elk anywhere/ anytime. I have spent 6 years trying new spots each year, but never really getting into elk. I have seen a lot of pretty country in SW Montana, but still am searching for the “right” spot, whatever that means to me. I am telling myself that this year I will stick to the spot I choose and commit to learning it for years to come, but I have told myself that before and after 6 days of nothing (and 50-60 mountain miles), I tend to renege on that deal with myself. Next time you guys pass on that cow I would love to fill my freezer with, just coax it into the back of your truck and drive it over to me and I would be more than happy to turn it into steaks for my family. I do love seeing new county though, so at least I have that going for me! :D
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby Swede » 10 16, 2021 •  [Post 12]

Jeff, you are not alone. For many reasons elk hunting is tough and success averages below 15% in most elk States. I get my elk just about every year, but I have some huge advantages.

1. I know my hunting areas. I know where at least some of the elk travel and how often they are likely to show up. I suspect your hunting areas have elk that just travel through on a ten day to two week interval. It does no good to be there for a six day hunt arriving the day after they passed through. Where I hunt I hate to see fresh sigh all over. It will be nearly two weeks before they return. I need a good back-up plan/location when that happens.

2. I have a full thirty days to hunt. The elk will come. I just need to wait. They will come around two or three times during the season.

3. I wait in a tree stand knowing where they will pass by. I also have learned how to coax them in with a short bugle from a hidden location nearby.

It is real easy to hunt hard for six years and have nothing to show for it if you don't have confidence in yourself and your hunting operation. Patience and persistence will be the best things to take with you.
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby GoGriz1234 » 10 16, 2021 •  [Post 13]

Thanks Swede! I plan to keep after it and I know one day it will come together. I am really hoping to find a spot that I can return to year after year so when my son is old enough to go with me in a few years, I can teach him what I had to learn on my own (and here!). Let me know if you want me to pick up a tandem tree stand for the two of us, I’ll shoot the second cow and I’ll even pack yours out as a bonus!
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby Lefty » 10 16, 2021 •  [Post 14]

Also what is the definition of "hard".

I was raised a hard worker in most things that we did. I never thought of those things as "hard"

Swede I believe is defining "hard " more as the ability of success( kill). Another Father in law quote " the work starts after the shot"

I guess Im a bit weird, I pass on opportunities many never experience.

But I will say it had been "hard" to kill a buck,, no matter how little
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby Swede » 10 16, 2021 •  [Post 15]

I see no reason to define a term that is relative, but generally understood. Regardless of your definition of "hard", you are most likely to not get an elk in six days on most public land otc units.
Remember this: Regardless of what you "pass" on, it is what you connect on that counts.
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby Lefty » 10 16, 2021 •  [Post 16]

Depends on what is important in the count! :lol:
Ok Il go with this
Filling a rifle bull or cow tag has been easy
Filling my archery tag with an animal I want to shoot is harder.

Overall I tend to hunt where there are good numbers of elk nearby or to be found. easy,.. with a spotting scope :lol:
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby Swede » 10 16, 2021 •  [Post 17]

The point of this thread is simply an attempt to help hunters get on board with an elk kill.
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby Lefty » 10 17, 2021 •  [Post 18]

Some of the challenges for many is not living in Elk country,
not knowing the area to be hunted ,
not knowing local elk movements,
and maybe in general not knowing elk as a whole.

Speaking with a fellow on Monday he mentioned that too many elk hunted move around different regions. that if some hunters would just stay put elk opportunities will happen

Of course there are more reasons
Time,
Low quality or lack of appropriate gear,
health
access
fitness
Ability or inability to use technology,, and that list could get long
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby Swede » 10 17, 2021 •  [Post 19]

Lefty: I appreciate your last post here. Will you elaborate on some of the points you made to help people know what you have seen and experienced?
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby Swede » 10 17, 2021 •  [Post 20]

I have a few minutes before I go back to church, so let me tackle one of Lefty's points. He may or may not agree. Let's talk about technology.
For centuries the Indians and later the pioneers successfully hunted elk. Their equipment was very low tech by today's standards. I would not want to try to shoot at an elk at 30 yards with one of the Indians bows and their arrows. The mountain men were not making 800 yard kills with a flintlock. Rifle shots at 800 yards are possible in certain situations, so there is place for modern technology.
That said I believe too many people try to bridge the gap between poor hunting skill and elk kills with gadgets and expensive equipment.
I do not reach for my range finder when I see an elk. I use it to get familiar with different ranges so when an elk comes around I can better estimate the yardage from memory or with just my eyes.
I really like my GPS, but is has never put me onto an elk. I use it for locating places and returning at a future time.
My bow is superior to what I had 30 years ago, and far above what I had 50 years ago. Really it does not make me a better hunter and that new bow is not more accurate. If I put my old recurve into a machine and shot is over and over, it would hit just as consistently as a new bow. The nut behind my newer bow, can hold and sight it more consistently, so I can hit more accurately.
My take on high tech is that it will not make you a good hunter. It can help a good hunter when used appropriately. When I say "appropriately" I refer to within its limitations and mine. Could I kill a standing elk at 80 yards with my bow? Maybe, but I would be shooting well beyond the distance I am competent at. I was at my limit this year when I killed the elk at 40 yards.
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby Lefty » 10 17, 2021 •  [Post 21]

Maybe we should jump on Technology on another thread.

I still own my first bow purchased when I was 13 years old, 1971(?) Herters recurve, I haven't strung or shot it in over 11 years. My 2006 Mathews gave me the advantage of being able to draw.
I found my elk, bear deer hunting areas via Google Earth, public mapping , along with ATV technology, and a bit of hiking. Clothing, insulated boots even my pickup.

Too late tonight to go on,, but maybe someone can add to what Saddle Sore mentioned,
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby saddlesore » 10 18, 2021 •  [Post 22]

It wasn't me ,but I will chime in.

I still hunt with the same rifle I hunted with 25 years ago. I did buy a new coat two years ago as my last one was too faded as game warden told me so. I had bought a new crossbow as I could not draw a conventional bow. That didn't work out and the only thing I kept before I sold it all was a small range finder that I use in ML season. My pop up camper is 78, my horse trailer is a 74 . I bought a new truck in 2018 after my Dodge Cummins died, but if I still had it, my old 70 Dodge gasser would work. Clothes wise, an old Bass Pron rain jacket and pants, still use an old Vietnam era pauncho, wear blue jeans and wool shirt or flannel if it is not too cold.My base layer is Costco $17 Poly. I guess the biggest advanced technology I have would be my plastic,titanium shoulder,but that isn't working out too good.

No GPS, my phone doesn't work where I hunt, my compass does as does my old topo maps. I have to agree with Swede.Too many young hunters seen to think all the techno gadgets will help them put elk on the ground when it is still good woodmanship, elk smarts and experience that does it.

I remember two incidences where I guided two different hunters. Each had new rifles and scope with those twirling turrets. Both missed their elk and went home to eat tag soup.

Al this old gear I have still works, can't say the same about my body parts.
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby 7mmfan » 10 18, 2021 •  [Post 23]

I agree with lefty, technology belongs in it's own thread. When you pair new technology with good elk hunting skills, guys can become truly deadly efficient killers. Most of us fall somewhere in between.

Swede, your comparison of Indians and mountain men is apples and oranges to modern elk hunting. There were far more elk back then and far less people. Elk acted like elk all the time, not stuffed into the deepest darkest hole they can find because of the orange army out chasing them, or the hundred guys blowing bugles and cow calls at them for months on end. Elk are educated on a daily basis for nearly 4 months as to the tricks and tactics of elk hunters these days. There were also no rules or regs, APR's, bull only tags, etc... Those guys weren't worried about horns, they were happy to kill cows I'm sure.

I do agree that a lot of the newer generation of youtube hunters lack the basic woodsmanship skills that you old timers take for granted. However, I'm sure most of your grand dads would say something similar to how you hunt and the new fangled technology you use compared to what they had available. Learning to elk hunt and learning elk habits takes time, a lot of time. It took me 5 years of hunting the same area out of state to feel confident going in there and killing animals every year. 5 years to learn the area, the travel habits, where they like to bed, where the water is, where they go when pressured, how the wind acts in that basin, etc... So calling a 25 year old guy out on how he lacks the basic elk hunting knowledge and woodsmanship skills seems kind of unfair.
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby RAMMONT » 10 18, 2021 •  [Post 24]

How hard is it to fill your tag is relative to your abilities. I have a friend who moved from Washington State, to Idaho, and now to Montana who gets an elk almost every year, I've lived in Montana for almost eight years and I've gotten two elk and one deer. The difference is that I'll put him in to good elk country but he's almost 20 years younger than me and he'll hunt in worse weather and terrain than I will, he'll carry an elk out on his back in country that I wont walk in to.

Getting an opportunity is far easier when you live where you hunt but you still have to be willing to go out every day and be persistent regardless of weather. As was mentioned, some elk seem to have a travel route and they tend to return to a spot fairly regularly if they aren't pushed out by hunters, so you have to be able to find the right time for a good spot. Right now I watch a large herd almost every day, but that's on private land and I hunt public land. Hunters that can get on to large private land can almost guarantee that they'll get an animal, public land is a crap shoot.

You have to know the area well when you hunt public land and you have to know how other hunters will push the animals, time and experience are the key to public land hunts. My personal experience is that the old idea that hunting early and late are most productive is true, in between you will have to see them in their bedding areas and that's not easy. Typically I see elk on open grass for the first 30 to 45 minutes after false dawn, after that they are in the trees. At sunset they will show up about 10 to 20 minutes before last light. They typically rest in the trees and move out to grass every three or four hours but they will stay close to the trees or in a small park surrounded by trees. In my area they really like to bed in the areas where there are a lot of deadfalls, it's almost impossible to see an elk when they rest in that kind of mess. But the benefit is that when a big bull moves in those deadfalls they aren't quiet, it sounds like the trees are falling.
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby 7mmfan » 10 18, 2021 •  [Post 25]

RAMMONT wrote:
Getting an opportunity is far easier when you live where you hunt


This is important, and circles back to my earlier comment about how much time it takes to become a good elk hunter. If you don't live where you hunt, it takes exponentially more time to gain the skills that those who live within an hour of elk can gain in a year or two by just being able to spend more time in the woods at all times of the year.
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby Swede » 10 18, 2021 •  [Post 26]

The point of my Indians and pioneers comment was to say that they got elk without high tech gadgets and clothes. In my big game hunting lifetime, which only started in the late 1950s, killing elk has never enjoyed a high success rate. I looked at the Oregon success rates over the years which went well back before my time and I found that the success rate for hunters has stayed relatively the same over many decades. Hunting season divisions and hunter numbers are heavily regulated here to maintain herds and hunting success.
It takes me back to my point that high tech gadgets do not increase your chance for a successful outcome on your hunt. If you disagree, call Bass Pro. They are ready and waiting to take your order.
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby Swede » 10 18, 2021 •  [Post 27]

If we are getting tired of discussing gadgets lets talk about health and fitness. I think the time spent out hunting needs no special promotion.

I lumped health and fitness together because they are both speak to our physical ability to get out and hunt. There is a point where they will fail us to a point where we can no longer git-er-done. It is heavy on my mind as I know that every season is a blessing from God that I appreciate more and more as I advance through the years. I know my seasons will be over before I am ready, but I still enjoy what I have.
Personally, I think great health and fitness are greatly over rated. I am in my 70s and hunted with two men in their 70s this year. We all live less than 400 feet above sea level and hunt above 6,000 feet elevation. We are not fitness fanatics, but we can still hunt effectively. We exercise some and stay active. It does not take a marathoner fueled on pine nuts and Kind bars to effective go out and kill elk.
Skill is still the determining factor and as old geezers we out hunted the three camps surrounding us. We went 2 for 3 and they were 1 for 18. There was not a 50 year old in their groups. They sure looked good, however, going out in their new Razors, etc. Hummm?
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby Lefty » 10 18, 2021 •  [Post 28]

ALL in All I like to hunt. If I was given a loin clothe , decent moccasins and a spear I would still be out there


Im going to say technology of all sorts improves chances. But so does elk knowledge. So is having a reliable vehicle, or an ATV

My dad and father-in-law were hunting with recurves and wood arrows,,,, Thats a whole new world! I dont think either ever took a shot over 35 yards.
My replaced hip allows me side hill. Which allows me to hunt where I want, before I was limited to the flatness of the desert and would be wheel chair bound.
My fixed shoulder allows me to draw a compound bow.
My $39.00 Bass pro lightweight pant, Hiking in the heat is easier.
This spring the guys in my group spring snow goose hunting all ( except me) were head to toe Sitka. I was in my pickup, stripped down to a fresh set of clothes while they were out in the blinds,, And those guys bought their ability to stay in the field longer.
Topo maps or no maps at all are a great help on Google earth.
And Bino,,, and scopes !! My 2-7 Redfield wide field ( 1972) $180 scope ( Minimum wage under .95) is nothing in comparison to my 4-12 Leopold,

A range finder,,, is that coyote at 300, or 350, a miss or solid kill

But do we need all that technology,, NO does it change the way we hunt! absolutely.

Ok now a fish story.
My daughter and Andrew have a high end fish finder,, even my 8 year old grand daughter can tell bottom types and fish species. On one trip. Andrew made the comment , " here comes the big one" a 9 foot sturgeon, all was fine,,,,,,,
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby Swede » 10 18, 2021 •  [Post 29]

I got a note from a friend and writer the other day. In the note he lamented how another bow hunter was making excuses for his lack of success. The excuse was that he was using a stick bow. My friend pointed out that a stick bow is no excuse. There are many very successful stick bow hunters and he mentioned several. They would never hold up their stick bow as a reason for not filling a tag. Not mentioned in my friend's list was Larry D. Jones who went so far as to credit his recurve with giving him opportunity that would not have been there with a compound.
If you have gimmicks and gadgets, you will rely on them and not develop the greater skills you would have otherwise had available. Such is the case with the guy shooting coyotes at 350 yards. If he had the skills he could have gotten coyotes much closer. This 350 yard coyote thing is about bragging and covering for a lack of skill.
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby saddlesore » 10 18, 2021 •  [Post 30]

Swede wrote:If we are getting tired of discussing gadgets lets talk about health and fitness. I think the time spent out hunting needs no special promotion.

I lumped health and fitness together because they are both speak to our physical ability to get out and hunt. There is a point where they will fail us to a point where we can no longer git-er-done. It is heavy on my mind as I know that every season is a blessing from God that I appreciate more and more as I advance through the years. I know my seasons will be over before I am ready, but I still enjoy what I have.
Personally, I think great health and fitness are greatly over rated. I am in my 70s and hunted with two men in their 70s this year. We all live less than 400 feet above sea level and hunt above 6,000 feet elevation. We are not fitness fanatics, but we can still hunt effectively. We exercise some and stay active. It does not take a marathoner fueled on pine nuts and Kind bars to effective go out and kill elk.
Skill is still the determining factor and as old geezers we out hunted the three camps surrounding us. We went 2 for 3 and they were 1 for 18. There was not a 50 year old in their groups. They sure looked good, however, going out in their new Razors, etc. Hummm?


Speaking of stick and wood bows, a friend of mine killed the Colorado record Shirus moose in 2020 using them.

I can honestly say,I never got all worked up about getting in shape for elk hunting.For me it was always mental. The desire to go do it and give it alI I had was all I needed. .Guys told me they jogged ten miles a day,visited the gym weekly, did all sort of exercise. I guess I had enough just doing chores around my place.When asked what I did to get in shape,I told them I bought a box of jelly donuts ,went down to the corral, pigged out , sharing them with my mules. They were always ready to go too.
Sometime in my forties I sat down and figured out how many elk seasons I had left in me. It wasn't very many. I figured I could hunt until I was 70. I never missed a season and around 60 I started to hunt two seasons a year when Colorado permitted A and B tags. When I hit 70, I changed a few things then figuring I could may be hunt until 75. 75 came and all came crashing down. Now at 78, I can still ride and this past season saw me riding out about 3 miles and finding a place to sit until noon or so.That was my hunting and it was even a chore.

It's coming for you Swede,and it ain't pretty. Ask Bill. It depends on how much you abused your body when you were twenty something and bullet proof
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby ElkNut1 » 10 18, 2021 •  [Post 31]

Vince, very well said. (except for the jelly donuts, grin)

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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby Swede » 10 18, 2021 •  [Post 32]

Thanks Saddlesore for those encouraging words. :lol: I see the finish line out ahead and I hate it. The awful fact is that it keeps getting closer and closer. I hope to go on vicariously after finishing my own hunts. I hope to be seeing through younger eyes, carried on by newer legs, and drawing my bow with stronger arms, by passing on the few things I have discovered over the years.
Keep sharing from your vast treasure chest of knowledge and experience. It is more valuable than many understand.
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby Tigger » 10 19, 2021 •  [Post 33]

Swede, a big difference between your success and others, including the fitness aspect, is that you hunt from a tree stand for up to a month. You have stated many times that the elk come around every 2 weeks. the average hunter doesnt have 2 weeks, let alone a month, most have 5-7 days. So they cannot wait, they need to make something happen and thus need to be in better shape.

Being in good shape is not a bad thing and working out in preparation for elk season is great for your overall health. If it takes elk season to motivate you to work out, so much the better.
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby Jhg » 10 19, 2021 •  [Post 34]

Back to fitness and the aging body/mind connection and success. I agree about not having to be a fitness nut. For me though, strength training makes the difference in how much I can do (how far, how steep, how heavy a load). And that influences success.
When I was younger (up into my late 50's) I really didn't need to focus on strength. I still had enough. It helped that I was always very active and naturally strong.
Anyway, especially in the legs, I need to do some kind of regular routine just to stay neutral and not lose the strength I have. It really paid off packing out my elk this fall. I still hunt solo most of the time, and that means a lot of work when I tag out.
I still have not conceded where I hunt to aging, and won't until I have to. Doing something to stay strong, besides just living my active life, really does help me enjoy hunting more and to keep hunting where/how I always have.

In the meantime as hunters we have to do whatever we can to maintain the level of function that is such a big part of who we are as men (and women).
We cannot rely on anything else but how hard we are willing to work to stay active. I bet every one of you who is post 50's and still going into the woods to climb hills and such is at your core just a plain stubborn person when it comes to discomfort. And thats a good trait to have.
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby Jhg » 10 19, 2021 •  [Post 35]

Swede wrote:.... Not mentioned in my friend's list was Larry D. Jones who went so far as to credit his recurve with giving him opportunity that would not have been there with a ...


I don't want to make this comment about "us vs them" sort of thing, so keep that in mind.

Hunting with a recurve has made me a WAY better hunter because of the distance I need to be at to close the deal. That equipment fact is just plain demanding of you to evolve into a better hunter, or go home empty freezer.
When I hunt rifle, (and I love hunting with my Savage 99 in the snow and cold) l often catch myself thinking how much better I am at it because I also hunt with a trad bow. My rifle kills have been for years around 50 yards or less. I use aperture sights. But I can make a six inch kill shot every time at 100 yds when " in the sling" or rested off a limb or something. But I don't need to so I hunt in a way that reflects this. It is a lot of fun and with a great sense of satisfaction to hunt so the animals are right there nearby when you decide to pull the trigger.

One of my "hides" looking out across an elk travel tunnel.
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F7CEA590-FFD0-4D19-9AE7-DDBE78604836.jpeg (130.83 KiB) Viewed 8 times
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby Swede » 10 19, 2021 •  [Post 36]

Tigger wrote: the average hunter doesnt have 2 weeks, let alone a month, most have 5-7 days. So they cannot wait, they need to make something happen and thus need to be in better shape.

Being in good shape is not a bad thing and working out in preparation for elk season is great for your overall health. If it takes elk season to motivate you to work out, so much the better.


I agree that being in good physical condition is a good thing. What I am rejecting is the idea that, if due to age, or some physical limitation you are not in super condition, you cannot effectively hunt elk. That pushes things too far. The only elk taken this past season out of three other camps was killed by a small sized woman who hunted out of a pop up blind. The big "hunks" got nada.
And sure I have a month to elk hunt, and I get one most every season.
So, your argument amounts to saying, since you don't have a lot of time, you have to use an even less productive way of getting elk. That makes no sense.
If it takes an average of 14 days to get an elk in a stand, then it stands to reason if I only have a week to hunt, my chances are about 50%. What are your chances running around the mountain tooting on a bugle? Probably less than 10%.
If I only had a week to hunt here is what I would do differently. I would stay in my stand all day. If I had a couple of stands, I would switch around daily to see if one is showing more sign than the other. I would favor the more productive one. With a month to hunt, I do not worry about missing an opportunity as much as I try to avoid burnout. I try to keep the hunt enjoyable every day. In a month I am going to have some weather issues. I will stay in for part of those days. I will need to go to town for supplies. Etc., etc. If I had a week, I would be out daybreak to dark every day.
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Re: How Hard Is It To Fill Your Elk Tag?

Postby Swede » 10 19, 2021 •  [Post 37]

Jhg, I agree completely with your post. I hunted with a recurve for years before I got a compound. I would go back to the recurve, but it seems pointless at this time.
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