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Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

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Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby Jhg » 01 11, 2022 •  [Post 1]

Fess up! What was/are some dumb ideas you tried to "improve" your elk hunt or to "help" get an elk down.

In the beginning, when my calling was more something I did because I was supposed to, rather than something I did for a reason, (like to call in an elk), I would tie a long string to a bough on some nearby evergreen with the idea when 'ol mister big showed up looking around for that elk (me) I would tug on the string and he would focus on that moving limb instead of me.
I sometimes went to a great deal of trouble setting up the string, where was the best spot, the best limb, the easiest way to tug it without myself moving much and being seen. Then I had to untie it from the limb, roll it up so it wouldn't rat nest until next time, and in general fuss budgeting around a lot just setting up and putting away.
Its was kind of ridiculous and the first sign that I was an elkoholic.
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby WapitiTalk1 » 01 11, 2022 •  [Post 2]

This will be good. I’ve got more than a few to add. But, it’s all about the on-going education of us elk hunters. ;)
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby saddlesore » 01 12, 2022 •  [Post 3]

I thought it would be great to kill an elk with a 13 pound 1886 lever gun in 45-70. I did it twice before I decided lugging around 13 pounds was a bit heavy at 11,000 foot.
Taking a horse hunting that had never packed meat ranked right up there too
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby Jhg » 01 12, 2022 •  [Post 4]

My first year I carried a replica 45-70, octagon barrel a mile long and twice as heavy. THAT gun kicked hard. If you didn't have a rest of some sort off hand shots had best be brief because you were not holding steady all that iron for long.


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A neighbor bought it as a favor when I was poor with the agreement I could buy it back when I was back on my feet for same money. He died, and his son refused to sell it back to me, let alone sell it back for more money.
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby >>>---WW----> » 01 12, 2022 •  [Post 5]

I always wanted to try a decoy for elk hunting. But I didn't want to shell out the coins for one. So, I figured a gunny sack was about the same color as an elk, so what the heck! ( Now for you teeny boppers and city slickers, A gunny sack is a burlap bag )! :o

Well, anyhow, I grabbed my gear and my gunny sack and headed of for a morning hunt. As I topped over the crest of a hill, there were two spikes feeding in a small meadow below. Hmmmm! I needed to get across that meadow to get to where I wanted to hunt that morning. And I sure had my sights on something better a spike that morning.

On my way down the brushy hill side I found a stick about 3 feet long. And as I got to the edge of the meadow, I placed the stick inside of the gunny sack and held it behind me about waist high with one hand. Then with the other hand I held my bow on top of my head with my elbow extended in front of my face.

I'm sure glad there wasn't anyone around to see what I was doing. I'll bet I looked crazy as all get out. If I wasn't a bowhunter, I'd have been plum ashamed of myself.

Anyhow as I stepped out into that open meadow, trying to look like my best impression of an elk, I walked across the opening like I didn't notice the two spikes not more than 50 yards from me. It was funny as all get out. Those youngsters looked up and watched me with a surprised " I wonder where our borther elk is going" expression and then went back to feeding like nothing had happened. :shock:
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby Lefty » 01 12, 2022 •  [Post 6]

My list of smart things Ive tried when elk hunting is shorter..

Hm which one am I willing to fess up..
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby Indian Summer » 01 13, 2022 •  [Post 7]

Probably the dumbest thing I’ve ever done was trust people not to hunt my spots without me or worse tell anyone else. Some people either don’t realize the value of a great hunting spot or they just plain have no respect. Or both. I’ve had to abandon my own spots because of that. Very frustrating to say the least.
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby Jhg » 01 13, 2022 •  [Post 8]

Ditto on the sharing spots. Bad experience, never doing it again.
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby 7mmfan » 01 13, 2022 •  [Post 9]

I have been lucky I suppose with sharing spots and information. I've only really shared with very well vetted and trusted individuals, but I haven't really been burned to this point.

Stupid things I've done to try and kill and elk though, I've got lots of those. They usually involve a grand scheme where I think either myself or another person can push elk from thick timber across a huge expanse of country into a gully or canyon of my choosing. It's never worked.

When it comes to calling, I'm very inexperienced. I've called in and killed 2 elk. One was a nice satellite bull that had to come check things out because the calling was so awful it had to be real. The other was a spike that came into a fairly well executed cow party. In general though, I have watched far more elk leave the vicinity of my calling than come towards it despite how much effort I put into trying to make it realistic. My worst experience was thinking I could call in a very large bull that had a harem of cows all to himself. At the first blow of the bugle, everyone stood up and ran away, at a shocking rate of speed.

I've waited on elk that I should have moved on, assuming they would stay where they were. I've moved on elk I should have waited on, because I was impatient. Basically, I've messed up far more than I've succeeded, but that has been half the fun.
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby Lefty » 01 13, 2022 •  [Post 10]

Indian Summer wrote:Probably the dumbest thing I’ve ever done was trust people not to hunt my spots without me or worse tell anyone else. Some people either don’t realize the value of a great hunting spot or they just plain have no respect. Or both. I’ve had to abandon my own spots because of that. Very frustrating to say the least.


I learnt that one from my daddy..
My father in law helped and OOS get his first deer,, and 2nd and 3rd.. 10 years later he was guiding the area,,
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby Lefty » 01 13, 2022 •  [Post 11]

As a teenager I tracked down deer, bear, fox, coyotes. And tried tracking elk my first full day elk hunting ,,..That idea ended at the base of 1000 foot elevation( I do need to state I did track that big bull, he lead me right into blow down lodgepole,,, before the 1000 feet.

That was easy,, maybe the only dumb thing ever :lol:
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby Swede » 01 14, 2022 •  [Post 12]

I can't say I have had an issue with somewhere I showed them to hunt. If I did not want them there, I would not have taken them there in the first place. That said, I would not go back where RJ took me without clearing it first with him.
Some of the dumb things I have done include: 1. Hunting the same place long after the elk were gone. What makes that so dumb is that I did not learn after just one or two seasons. 2. Setting out a decoy near my stand. 3. One time I forgot to pull up my bow right away and a nice bull came in while I just had to watch. 4. Setting up low to the ground in a basin. 5. I did every rookie stunt in the book and some several times before I realized they were just dumb.
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby Tigger » 01 14, 2022 •  [Post 13]

Swede wrote: 5. I did every rookie stunt in the book and some several times before I realized they were just dumb.


I totally believe you.
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby Swede » 01 14, 2022 •  [Post 14]

The problem we have is determining what is just bad luck and what is a mistake. If we are not careful, we can be making the same dumb mistakes years into our hunting exercise. Remember; there were no elk hunting forums 65, 50, or 40 years ago. There were a lot fewer good books out there designed to really help a newbie.
Tree stand hunting has taught me several things I have never read. i.e., 1. bulls can easily take 2 hours before they silently come to a call. By observing their behavior, I can be certain they were coming to the earlier call. 2. Bulls sometimes bugle to find out if other elk are at the waterhole. If you answer they go somewhere else. 3. Decoys are not a good fit near a tree stand.
I am appreciative that people like Saddlesore and WW share the things they have learned over the decades and share it all with us. They are paying it forward and we are all indebted to them.
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby Lefty » 01 14, 2022 •  [Post 15]

Tigger wrote:
Swede wrote: 5. I did every rookie stunt in the book and some several times before I realized they were just dumb.

I totally believe you.
:)
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby Swede » 01 15, 2022 •  [Post 16]

There are two ways to learn about anything. The best way is to learn from others who know. This is usually the quickest and easiest method, but to be complete, you need you understand the when, where why and how so you can apply what you were told or shown. The other way to learn is through discovery on your own. This is referred to as trial and error, or the school of hard knocks.
Certainly, I have made a lot of mistakes. I have figured out a lot of things so that I am generally successful in my tree stand hunts. If I had not learned a lot, I would still be as ignorant as Lefty and Tigger. :lol:
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby Jhg » 01 15, 2022 •  [Post 17]

Another mistake I realized I was making was hunting elk the same way I hunted whitetails back home. So imagine slinking along at a snails pace and covering 500 yds an hour at best. Thats ok if you are in an elk hotel, but if you have not found the elk yet, well, its kinda a waste of time being stealth when there are no elk around to guffaw at the effort.
Its important when you try very hard and are very earnest that you have an audience to provide with entertainment.

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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby Lefty » 01 15, 2022 •  [Post 18]

Swede wrote: I would still be as ignorant
:lol:
:lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby Billy Goat » 01 15, 2022 •  [Post 19]

I didnt "try" to be unprepared to kill one, but unprepared, I was.....

walking back to the truck, following the trailhead that followed a creek. probably 1/2 mile from the truck.

bow season. walking with a purpose, and the purpose was getting to the truck. so..... I DIDNT HAVE AN ARROW NOCKED.

of course, I top a little rise and there's a cow and calf getting a drink from the creek about 15 yards away. if I'd have had an arrow nocked, I'd have killed that calf. instead, the ~extra movement associated with grabbing arrow, nocking it and drawing drew the calfs attention, and they bolted.

Lesson here: if you are elk hunting, be ready to kill one at all times. especially on an easy packout!!
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby Swede » 01 15, 2022 •  [Post 20]

Hoochie Mama, bite and blow and other instant calls work fine. Even a poorly delivered calls will bring in elk if you are in the right area with elk. The elk have never read all the pundits who look down their noses at hunters that don't subscribe to the diaphragm only club. I remember trying to get a few calls more out of an old diaphragm that sounded terrible. It was a lousy call, but it brought in a bull.
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby Lefty » 01 16, 2022 •  [Post 21]

I must be smarter than I thought,, I cant think of anymore dumb things Ive tried when elk hunting..

OK Ok my wife thought this was dumb. My dumb mistake I should have shot the little desert buck at 13 yards

2012-09-08 17-54-00.JPG
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby Swede » 01 17, 2022 •  [Post 22]

Lefty's post above caused me to think about a certain fact but is not a reflection on him. Recognizing mistakes takes a lot of thought based on how perceptive we are.
When we don't know much, nothing appears to be a mistake. It is only as you gain understanding and insight do you realize some things are a mistake.
I will illustrate from my own mistake. On a few (3-4) warm afternoons and evenings over a course of 8-10 years, while sitting in my tree stand over a waterhole, I answered a bull that bugled off in the timber. Those bulls never came closer. I quit answering distant bugles and the bulls came in for a drink where they got shot. It took several experiences and a recollection of past incidents to realize my mistake.
Is something just bad luck or was there a mistake involved? Based on one occurrence it may be impossible to know. When we have it happen several times then change to get different results, we can surmise what we were doing was a mistake.
Here is another example of what I am referring to: While sitting in a stand in a basin, that was just ten feet up in a tree, I never saw an elk come in. I sat there much of a season. Whenever I was gone the elk came around, but when I returned, they stayed away. The next season I placed a stand on a nearby hillside about 25 feet up a large pine tree. Then the elk came in. While thinking about the situation over the winter, I had concluded I needed to go higher to get my scent away from the basin the elk entered to go to the waterhole nearby. Thinking about what I observed revealed my mistake.
We can only improve when we realize our errors, or someone shows us a better way. I think the rest is just luck.
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby Swede » 01 17, 2022 •  [Post 23]

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Here is a picture I have used on different occasions for differing purposes. This waterhole was once a very reliable place to kill an elk. I fact my son named it "Old Faithful". All of a sudden one season it became useless for ambushing elk. Why? What changed? Cattle are not using it and it looks the same except the water is clear from lack of elk use. There is nothing happening anywhere around the area at this time for anyone to see and the water is good to drink. There are just no elk around.

The bedding area above on private land was all logged over. Often it is not what we see that determines our success at getting elk. Just like in the examples I wrote about above; it is what is missing.
Anyone can recognize that standing up and walking caused the elk to run off. Can we see what is missing?
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby Jhg » 01 17, 2022 •  [Post 24]

Swede wrote:
old faithful.png

This waterhole was once a very reliable place to kill an elk. I fact my son named it "Old Faithful". All of a sudden one season it became useless... There are just no elk around.

The bedding area above on private land was all logged over...
Anyone can recognize that standing up and walking caused the elk to run off. Can we see what is missing?


Interesting and the thing I see "younger" archers, who rely mostly on their physical hunter most often miss- The bigger picture.

I am seeing weather/drought change things "overnight". But really it was happening right under the nose. An area can, or cannot support elk.

Or hunting pressure becomes so persistent, so unrelenting year in year out, the elk adapt and change away from an established history of behavior for an area. We have all seen what was, and what still should be, a perfect elk staging area. But the wallows are old, and stay unused. They only show a time past where elk congregated yearly.
What changed? What are we missing?

My biggest elk lesson was that I cannot kill an elk where no elk exist. It cannot be done. You first have to have elk.
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby Indian Summer » 01 18, 2022 •  [Post 25]

Jhg wrote:Another mistake I realized I was making was hunting elk the same way I hunted whitetails back home. So imagine slinking along at a snails pace and covering 500 yds an hour at best. Thats ok if you are in an elk hotel, but if you have not found the elk yet, well, its kinda a waste of time being stealth when there are no elk around to guffaw at the effort.
]


BOOM! The demise of many an eastern or mid western deer hunter! I did the same thing when I started. Using the tactics that brought me success back home with some of the sneakiest animals you’ll ever hunt. Nope… don’t work. Now if I know for absolutely certain that a bull is in a patch of timber because I watched him walk in there that’s different. Then whitetail mode is the way to go. But worrying about snapping a twig when you’re not even sure if there’s an elk in the same square mile as you is why some otherwise great hunters come home and say they never saw one. I’ve guided plenty of guys who totally stressed out at how fast we were covering ground. One time I guided a guy from Michigan who claimed to be a big buck slayer back home. He told me to tell him which way we were heading next and the he’d be up front with me trailing 50-100 yards behind him watching him stalk up and take the shot… with his bow. Talk about stressing out. Covering 100 yards in a half an hour when you know the bulls are having a party a mile away on the other side of the ridge is enough to put you over the deep end.

Some guys myself included learn things the hard way. Now I am wise enough to know when to shift gears. I’ll double time it up a horse trail or a dead zone where I know elk won’t be at that time of day but when I know the elk are there I can move as slow as the shadows or sit in one spot for several days straight waiting for one to make the wrong move.
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby Lefty » 01 18, 2022 •  [Post 26]

Swede wrote: It is only as you gain understanding and insight do you realize some things are a mistake.
I will illustrate from my own mistake.

.

Mistakes??

Learning, experience or opportunities 8-)
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby Lefty » 01 18, 2022 •  [Post 27]

Indian Summer wrote:
Jhg wrote:Another mistake I realized I was making was hunting elk the same way I hunted whitetails back home. So imagine slinking along at a snails pace and covering 500 yds an hour at best. Thats ok if you are in an elk hotel, but if you have not found the elk yet, well, its kinda a waste of time being stealth when there are no elk around to guffaw at the effort.
]

BOOM! The demise of many an eastern or mid western deer hunter! I did the same thing when I started. Using the tactics that brought me success back home .


I was guilty of the same. Not a mistake, but a learning experience.

However the definition of "aggressive" used by elk hunters I had never understood until years after starting to archery elk hunt
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby Swede » 01 18, 2022 •  [Post 28]

Call it what you like. Just remember some people get ten years' experience while out hunting for ten years. Some people get one year of experience ten times over because they think they have enough knowledge and skill. They just keep repeating the same "experience". They even say things like: "I must be smarter than I thought,, I cant think of anymore dumb things Ive tried when elk hunting.."
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby 7mmfan » 01 18, 2022 •  [Post 29]

I've made all my dumb mistakes. Starting this year, I will only make smart mistakes.
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby Lefty » 01 19, 2022 •  [Post 30]

7mmfan wrote:I've made all my dumb mistakes. Starting this year, I will only make smart mistakes.

And for the rest of your elk hunting time in the woods :D
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby WapitiTalk1 » 01 19, 2022 •  [Post 31]

>>>---WW----> wrote:I always wanted to try a decoy for elk hunting. But I didn't want to shell out the coins for one. So, I figured a gunny sack was about the same color as an elk, so what the heck! ( Now for you teeny boppers and city slickers, A gunny sack is a burlap bag )! :o

Well, anyhow, I grabbed my gear and my gunny sack and headed of for a morning hunt. As I topped over the crest of a hill, there were two spikes feeding in a small meadow below. Hmmmm! I needed to get across that meadow to get to where I wanted to hunt that morning. And I sure had my sights on something better a spike that morning.

On my way down the brushy hill side I found a stick about 3 feet long. And as I got to the edge of the meadow, I placed the stick inside of the gunny sack and held it behind me about waist high with one hand. Then with the other hand I held my bow on top of my head with my elbow extended in front of my face.

I'm sure glad there wasn't anyone around to see what I was doing. I'll bet I looked crazy as all get out. If I wasn't a bowhunter, I'd have been plum ashamed of myself.

Anyhow as I stepped out into that open meadow, trying to look like my best impression of an elk, I walked across the opening like I didn't notice the two spikes not more than 50 yards from me. It was funny as all get out. Those youngsters looked up and watched me with a surprised " I wonder where our borther elk is going" expression and then went back to feeding like nothing had happened. :shock:



That wasn't dumb, that was genius! :D
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby WapitiTalk1 » 01 19, 2022 •  [Post 32]

1. Dragging elk out whole (with partners of course). Dumb

2. Packing elk bones out of holes. Dumb

3. Not having enough patience in many elk hunting applications (calling, sitting ambush sites, still hunting and on and on). Maybe not dumb, just a flaw in my personal makeup. :D

4. Taking a mid day nap, or, having lunch in the elk woods and not having my weapon within reach; you see where I'm going here. Dumb

5. Inviting somebody to my elk camp without "shaking them down" for a possible predator call which could be used against me if it were set up just outside of camp; Swede may know something about this one. Dumb

5. Not taking rain gear in my pack because the forecast I saved "a week ago" states only a 25% chance of rain today. Dumb

6. Camping on a saddle. This, is never a good idea... I'm sure many of you seasoned hunters can attest to this. Dumb

7. Not wearing a head net, or, at least streaking my sparkly white face up with camo and seemingly surprised when I draw on an elk close up. Super Dumb.

8. Not carrying a water filter in my pack...regardless of how long/short of a hunt that is planned for the morning. Dumb

9. Not having enough patience when..... oh, covered that one. That's good for now, it's amazing I've shot any elk at all with this laundry list. :D
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby Swede » 01 20, 2022 •  [Post 33]

"I always wanted to try a decoy for elk hunting. But I didn't want to shell out the coins for one. So, I figured a gunny sack was about the same color as an elk, so what the heck! ( Now for you teeny boppers and city slickers, A gunny sack is a burlap bag )! :o" WW

I still have a couple of these decoys too. If a person wants to see just what they look like and how to use them watch Elk Fever II by Larry D. Jones. That is where I got my idea for a homemade decoy. I painted my burlap rear white to look like an elk and put on black to make the "legs" stand out on the body. I used gromets to tie to, including the rear, neck and the three legs. Do not put a head on the decoy as it does not hold up and just flops around. The elk don't notice the difference.
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Re: Dumb things you tried when elk hunting

Postby >>>---WW----> » 01 21, 2022 •  [Post 34]

Good idea Swede! If you guys want to make a Swede Elk Rump decoy, You can get regular fabric paint from most any craft store. It remains soft and payable so it folds up. Not stiff like regular paint.
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