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How smart are elk

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How smart are elk

Postby Lefty » 03 12, 2021 •  [Post 1]

Ok When I was a young trapper we always heard stories about the Wiley-ole-red fox or coyote. Ive heard the same about smart geese I think elk are much the same and many other wildlfe.
So are they Smart, or just afraid of everything, or do we condition them to behave a certain way,..

Only the smart survive? What's your take, or share the story of smart, or survivalist or conditioned elk.

While Ive never hunted the area for elk, only grouse I plan to put trail cams to see whats really up with this small pocket. For years Ive seen nice mature bucks and bulls. Bedded in a triangle of a US highway and two forest service roads. Dense thick cover, water and less than 200 acres.
Geese show up on fields two days after season, And I find red fox on trail cams in my back yard
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Re: How smart are elk

Postby Swede » 03 12, 2021 •  [Post 2]

Elk can be patterned, but they are harder than some other animals. They cover a lot of territory and their senses are excellent. I do not think they have any great intelligence, but they learn to react to situations they encounter. Over calling comes to mind, but it can be just hunters hiking down a ridge or walking with a cadence that sets them off.
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Re: How smart are elk

Postby Lefty » 03 12, 2021 •  [Post 3]

Swede wrote:,,,,,,, but it can be just hunters hiking down a ridge ,,,,,.

We were watching a handful of elk that we could see, and had been listening to for 40 minutes, some guy came out on a ridge skylined 300 yards above then ,.. blew a textbook bugle with chuckles on the end. We saw the elk look up and disappear. Never saw or heard them the rest of the morning
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Re: How smart are elk

Postby Elkhunttoo » 03 13, 2021 •  [Post 4]

Just yesterday I sky lined on top of a ridge to try and glass bulls a long ways off to see where I need to go in a few weeks shed hunting. When I spotted them I was 1.7 miles from them and they looked at me for a minute and walked over the ridge...yet the last 3 weeks there was a group of 18 bulls that hung out right next to the interstate. I think they almost always react to what they feel there threat level is
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Re: How smart are elk

Postby ElkNut1 » 03 14, 2021 •  [Post 5]

Well, let's see! With hunter stats showing less than 10% are successful on a yearly basis I'd say elk aren't too dumb! (grin)

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Re: How smart are elk

Postby Lefty » 03 14, 2021 •  [Post 6]

So whats harder to hunt! the old white-tail buck, a big ole mulie,.. or 8 year old bull.
Years back I called a friend and told him about the biggest mule deer I had ever seen , along the Grande River in SD,.. He had lots of questions, Evidently the buck was famous and nobody had seen him during the season. I did, 4AM crossing a road.
Then there was a huge whitetail near ST Peter Mn. < every woods was leased in his range,.. As a very old deer was hit buy a car

The the Spider bull, how did he make it so long.
My father in law has a couple of bucks nobody had seen before they were killed.
Then us living in Perry Utah. In winter we would see these 28 -36 inch bucks that never got killed
Two other guys and myself hunted for three years for one Klickitat bench buck, and never saw him or heard what may have happened to him.
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Re: How smart are elk

Postby Elkhunttoo » 03 14, 2021 •  [Post 7]

To answer your question lefty...it’s elk!!! Maybe ;) but because they are my favorite to hunt. If the others bugled it might be close but for me, it’s elk.
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Re: How smart are elk

Postby Swede » 03 14, 2021 •  [Post 8]

There are so many variables that we deal with, I know of no way to measure elk intelligence. I think a better question is, can I figure them out and get one? Where are they? What do I need to do to get one? Can I adapt, or do I keep repeating the same things and wondering why it is not working? Public land elk are rarely easy to kill on a regular basis.
People that do not live in or near elk country are at a disadvantage. Still some manage to do well.
I think if you hang out here, you can get some great insights into hunting elk effectively, and at least have a good chance.
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Re: How smart are elk

Postby Lefty » 03 14, 2021 •  [Post 9]

Swede wrote:,,,,,
I think if you hang out here, you can get some great insights into hunting elk effectively, and at least have a good chance.


Im not sure: there is this guy in Oregon,,,,,,,,,
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Re: How smart are elk

Postby Indian Summer » 03 15, 2021 •  [Post 10]

Dumb as rocks. Just lucky. Plus they live in crags on the edges of the planet miles above sea level. Otherwise they’d be extinct. :lol:

Seriously it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know who’s trying to kill you. So they react to predators including us. And of course they can smell and hear really well. The fact that they are in groups instead of alone or with 1-2 others like deer is a big factor in their survival. The other is that cow who has lived 8 years. If any of them can be considered smart it’s her.
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Re: How smart are elk

Postby WapitiTalk1 » 03 15, 2021 •  [Post 11]

Indian Summer wrote:Dumb as rocks. Just lucky. Plus they live in crags on the edges of the planet miles above sea level. Otherwise they’d be extinct. :lol:

Seriously it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know who’s trying to kill you. So they react to predators including us. And of course they can smell and hear really well. The fact that they are in groups instead of alone or with 1-2 others like deer is a big factor in their survival. The other is that cow who has lived 8 years. If any of them can be considered smart it’s her.


Umm, this ;)
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Re: How smart are elk

Postby >>>---WW----> » 03 16, 2021 •  [Post 12]

Indian Summer wrote:Dumb as rocks. Just lucky. Plus they live in crags on the edges of the planet miles above sea level. Otherwise they’d be extinct. :lol:

Seriously it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know who’s trying to kill you. So they react to predators including us. And of course they can smell and hear really well. The fact that they are in groups instead of alone or with 1-2 others like deer is a big factor in their survival. The other is that cow who has lived 8 years. If any of them can be considered smart it’s her.


Injun Joe pretty much nailed it! :roll: The lead cow rules the roost. She has usually been around long enough to be the sharpest tack in the box.
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Re: How smart are elk

Postby WapitiTalk1 » 03 16, 2021 •  [Post 13]

>>>---WW----> wrote:
Indian Summer wrote:Dumb as rocks. Just lucky. Plus they live in crags on the edges of the planet miles above sea level. Otherwise they’d be extinct. :lol:

Seriously it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know who’s trying to kill you. So they react to predators including us. And of course they can smell and hear really well. The fact that they are in groups instead of alone or with 1-2 others like deer is a big factor in their survival. The other is that cow who has lived 8 years. If any of them can be considered smart it’s her.


Indian Summer Joe pretty much nailed it! :roll: The lead cow rules the roost. She has usually been around long enough to be the sharpest tack in the box.


No trout about that! Reminds of my house but Mrs Wapiti seems to get angry when I refer to her as the lead cow :?
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Re: How smart are elk

Postby wawhitey » 03 16, 2021 •  [Post 14]

WapitiTalk1 wrote:
>>>---WW----> wrote:
Indian Summer wrote:Dumb as rocks. Just lucky. Plus they live in crags on the edges of the planet miles above sea level. Otherwise they’d be extinct. :lol:

Seriously it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know who’s trying to kill you. So they react to predators including us. And of course they can smell and hear really well. The fact that they are in groups instead of alone or with 1-2 others like deer is a big factor in their survival. The other is that cow who has lived 8 years. If any of them can be considered smart it’s her.


Indian Summer Joe pretty much nailed it! :roll: The lead cow rules the roost. She has usually been around long enough to be the sharpest tack in the box.


No trout about that! Reminds of my house but Mrs Wapiti seems to get angry when I refer to her as the lead cow :?



Maybe instead of "lead cow" you could try referring to her as the "big cow?" It might be seen as a term of respect. Give it a try and report back.
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Re: How smart are elk

Postby WapitiTalk1 » 03 16, 2021 •  [Post 15]

wawhitey wrote:
WapitiTalk1 wrote:
>>>---WW----> wrote:
Indian Summer wrote:Dumb as rocks. Just lucky. Plus they live in crags on the edges of the planet miles above sea level. Otherwise they’d be extinct. :lol:

Seriously it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know who’s trying to kill you. So they react to predators including us. And of course they can smell and hear really well. The fact that they are in groups instead of alone or with 1-2 others like deer is a big factor in their survival. The other is that cow who has lived 8 years. If any of them can be considered smart it’s her.


Indian Summer Joe pretty much nailed it! :roll: The lead cow rules the roost. She has usually been around long enough to be the sharpest tack in the box.


No trout about that! Reminds of my house but Mrs Wapiti seems to get angry when I refer to her as the lead cow :?



Maybe instead of "lead cow" you could try referring to her as the "big cow?" It might be seen as a term of respect. Give it a try and report back.


I wouldn’t do that on a triple dog dare! Hell, I like my knees and other various body parts. Mrs Wapiti is from the wilds of NW Montana and can whip her weight in wildcats (about four 30 pounders). So no thank you unless you swing by, armed to the gills, with your new truck pointed down the hill so we can escape relatively unharmed.
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Re: How smart are elk

Postby Lefty » 03 16, 2021 •  [Post 16]

WapitiTalk1 wrote:,,,,,, Mrs Wapiti seems to get angry when I refer to her as the lead cow :?

I would never use such terminology ,.. The Majesty Queen at my house is correct 8-)
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Re: How smart are elk

Postby Indian Summer » 03 17, 2021 •  [Post 17]

Lefty wrote:
WapitiTalk1 wrote:,,,,,, Mrs Wapiti seems to get angry when I refer to her as the lead cow :?

I would never use such terminology ,.. The Majesty Queen at my house is correct 8-)

I hear you Lefty. Queen Bee maybe. If I said lead cow I’d be one lonely bull. Maybe that’s why every once in awhile you cut a single track! :lol:
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Re: How smart are elk

Postby Lefty » 03 17, 2021 •  [Post 18]

Indian Summer wrote:
Lefty wrote:
WapitiTalk1 wrote:,,,,,, Mrs Wapiti seems to get angry when I refer to her as the lead cow :?

I would never use such terminology ,.. The Majesty Queen at my house is correct 8-)

I hear you Lefty. Queen Bee maybe. If I said lead cow I’d be one lonely bull. Maybe that’s why every once in awhile you cut a single track! :lol:


bachelor bull or Satellite :oops:
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Re: How smart are elk

Postby Indian Summer » 03 17, 2021 •  [Post 19]

Lefty wrote:
Indian Summer wrote:
Lefty wrote:
WapitiTalk1 wrote:,,,,,, Mrs Wapiti seems to get angry when I refer to her as the lead cow :?

I would never use such terminology ,.. The Majesty Queen at my house is correct 8-)

I hear you Lefty. Queen Bee maybe. If I said lead cow I’d be one lonely bull. Maybe that’s why every once in awhile you cut a single track! :lol:


bachelor bull or Satellite :oops:

In the doghouse!
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Re: How smart are elk

Postby Swede » 03 17, 2021 •  [Post 20]

wawhitey wrote:Maybe instead of "lead cow" you could try referring to her as the "big cow?" It might be seen as a term of respect. Give it a try and report back.


Is anyone wondering why Whitey is still a bachelor?
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Re: How smart are elk

Postby wawhitey » 03 17, 2021 •  [Post 21]

Swede wrote:
wawhitey wrote:Maybe instead of "lead cow" you could try referring to her as the "big cow?" It might be seen as a term of respect. Give it a try and report back.


Is anyone wondering why Whitey is still a bachelor?


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Re: How smart are elk

Postby Lefty » 03 17, 2021 •  [Post 22]

wawhitey wrote:
Swede wrote:
wawhitey wrote:Maybe instead of "lead cow" you could try referring to her as the "big cow?" It might be seen as a term of respect. Give it a try and report back.


Is anyone wondering why Whitey is still a bachelor?


My stunning good looks intimidate women

Been there!!! :lol: Enjoy it until some beauty tracks you down!



Being single can be a blessing,,,, and a curse,
and some women are a blessing, and a curse
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Re: How smart are elk

Postby Roosiebull » 03 17, 2021 •  [Post 23]

Lefty wrote:Ok When I was a young trapper we always heard stories about the Wiley-ole-red fox or coyote. Ive heard the same about smart geese I think elk are much the same and many other wildlfe.
So are they Smart, or just afraid of everything, or do we condition them to behave a certain way,..

Only the smart survive? What's your take, or share the story of smart, or survivalist or conditioned elk.

While Ive never hunted the area for elk, only grouse I plan to put trail cams to see whats really up with this small pocket. For years Ive seen nice mature bucks and bulls. Bedded in a triangle of a US highway and two forest service roads. Dense thick cover, water and less than 200 acres.
Geese show up on fields two days after season, And I find red fox on trail cams in my back yard

i don't think some are "smart" while others aren't, i think the old mature animals labeled "smart" get that way by luck, their personal habits make them hard to kill by humans... not cognitively avoiding humans, i think it's more chance that that's how they happen to be. i think some are habitually nocturnal, but not to avoid us, that's just how they are.

i think some critters call places home that put them at an advantage to not get killed... again, not purposely avoiding us, they just happen to claim a little piece of ground that doesn't see much human traffic or is difficult to hunt effectively. there is some country behind my house that is big mature timber with a lot of nasty deep canyons choked with salmonberry.... a big bull or 2 always comes out of the woodwork during the rut, and i know they live in these relatively small pockets that people don't go into.... like nobody. i have threatened to do some over nighters in there, even though it's not far as the crow flies, it takes time to navigate that country, and a lot of it would suck bad in the dark..... at the end of the day, i'm just not interested enough in big antlers to do it, but i'm going to at some point just to solidify my theory.

the biggest buck i have ever seen, i had a lot of his daily routine down.... i wasn't willing to sit on a road where i knew he crossed daily in the daylight.... i wanted to catch him in the feeding feature..... i hunted him a lot, but ultimately ended up killing a different buck when a series of storms pushed the deer out of the cut i was hunting him in... i did take take a friend in there and watched him shoot that buck.... a true giant at 167" and change (net) huge buck.... he acted no different than any other old buck, but his travel route was about .6 miles (at least) daily, and almost all of it was through dog hair reprod, besides crossing a couple non traveled logging roads.... about the only way to kill that buck would have been sitting by a trail on a road (boring and hard to do with nothing to look at while sitting hours, given the wind was actually steady enough to do it) or catch him making a mistake coming into feed or leaving feed.... that's doable if you dedicate yourself to it all season using common sense and not risking blowing him out.... hard ton do with all of those spots and all of those bucks.
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