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A Guide To Elk Hunting

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A Guide To Elk Hunting 

If you love big game hunting, elk hunting will become one of your favorite big game animals to hunt. Elk hunting can be an exciting sport, with plenty of cross-country traveling on foot or on horseback.

The elk is a fascinating animal. Also known as wapiti, it is the second largest species of deer in North America, next only to the moose. The big bull elk can weigh up to 1000 lbs with grand antlers. A cow may weigh up to 800 lbs, while her calves would be 100 to 500 lbs depending on their age. Elk can be found in the mountain regions of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and Idaho. Colorado elk hunting and New Mexico elk hunting have become popular with big game hunters. Guided elk hunts are available to suit hunters’ varying tastes. Some good places to hunt trophy elk in Canada are Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

While preparing for an elk hunting trip the following points ought to be kept in mind: Physical fitness and high altitude conditioning; Hunting equipment and skills; Tracking skills; navigational skills and gear; Camping and survival gear; Clothing; Meat packing gear. Other points that need attention for a successful elk hunt are: A flat shooting rifle (to cover a varying range); Learning different elk calls (to attract or locate the elk); Dressing, quartering and packing the kill. 

Let us look at some of these:

Physical Fitness and high altitude conditioning: Anyone who walks for miles across mountainous country wearing heavy clothing, carrying a rifle and other equipment, can literally become breathless. You ought to be physically fit to bear the strain. Therefore, physical fitness and acclimatization are necessary for elk hunting. Visit your doctor for a fitness check if you feel so.

Elk Hunting equipment and skills: If you are hunting with a rifle, choose one with a 400 yard range with sufficient power. Also, it must be light enough for you to carry it all day long across rough terrain.  Sighting in your rifle well before you commence your hunt is needed. Buy a good quality rifle scope of sturdy construction with anti fog qualities otherwise your hunting trip could be ruined. Sighting in involves perfecting short and long-range shots as well. There are excellent fog proof riflescopes now available that combine a laser rangefinder and bullet drop compensator that can help remove all guesswork from your long-range shots, but if your scope does not have a rangefinder, it is a good idea to get one.The sighting in needs to be perfected in a way that lets you hit any target accurately within 100 to 400 yards. Fine-tune the rifle sight by practicing on a paper target. Keep in mind that unlike your paper target, which is stationary, and at a fixed distance, the elk presents a moving target; you will not be able to judge exactly how far away it is from you. Practice well, so that you know how your rifle behaves over varying distances. Different rifles perform differently and for experienced and seasoned hunters, how high or low to aim in order to successfully hit the elk at varying distances is a matter of calculated guesswork born out of practice. A spotting scope will be useful as you will  be glassing from  far distances to find elk herds.

Clothing, camping and hunting gear: Carry warm clothing as well as light ones, as the weather can be unpredictable in the mountains. Also carry a pair of hunting boots that are of high quality breathable waterproof boots like Gore tex or one of comparable quality. You will also need a good hunting back pack to pack your elk. Choose good tents and sleeping bags. There are several outfitters you can choose from for buying camping and hunting equipment.

Navigational skills and gear: Carry a good topographical map and a compass. Familiarize yourself with it so that you do not get lost in wild country. It's a good idea to spend some time preparing before setting off on a trek. Set up a map on a desk to familiarize yourself with the terrain and the area so you're ready to get right to it when you arrive. Elk travel long distances with the changing seasons. Write suitable notes on the map whenever you spot or make a kill. Comparing such notes with other hunters can help in tracing the elk’s migration route and resting places. A GPS is an extremely helpful tool for hunting and scouting.

Tracking skills and elk calls:
Elk frequent grassy areas for feeding (grazing), water holes for drinking water, and bedding grounds in the forest during the night. It would be a good idea to keep a watch on these locations. They are known to prefer grazing areas close to the forest cover. Elk make many sounds, more so during the rut season. Bull elk make squealing, grunting or bugling sounds. Cow elk and their calves make various chirping-mewing sounds. Imitating elk calls helps in finding their location. Elk calls are available for imitating both bull and cow elk calls. Elk are known to respond to calling. A moving elk is likely to stop and listen to an elk call, offering you a second chance even if you miss the first shot.

Elk have very sharp senses of hearing, vision, and smell. They will never let you get very close. Once you have spotted an elk, stay out of his line of vision by hiding behind trees while keeping an eye on him; it is not difficult elk are large animals. Mask your body odor using a scent masking spray.  You can also use a cow elk scent to attract the bulls. Make as little noise as possible.

Posted April 23, 2014 by Justin Ott

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