Spotting Elk and Stalking Elk

Spoting Elk and Stalking Elk
Hunting over a fresh wallow like this one can be a great elk hunting tactic.

Spotting and Stalking Elk

As elk hunting has gained popularity over the last couple decades, bulls have become increasingly call shy. Mature bulls often run away from elk bugles instead of running towards them. Many seasoned veteran elk hunters no longer use bugle calls, especially if they are after a large bull. Often the best method to harvest large bulls is spotting and stalking elk. The typical routine of an elk herd is feeding during the night and heading to their bedding area about mid morning. Late in the afternoon, they often get up and start feeding and work their way towards their feeding and watering areas. If elk hunters are as quiet as a mountain lion on the prowl and can figure out the routine of a herd, spotting and stalking elk can be the best way to put a large bull on the ground.

Many elk hunters often wait on a game trail halfway between a bulls' bedding area and his feeding area. When he heads to his bedding area in the mid morning, the bull passes right by the elk hunter. Setting up near a feeding area is another great option. Herds of elk can often be found in large meadows during the afternoon and evening. If you can locate a meadow that is being used regularly, setting up near the edge often produces a lot of action.

elk hunting
Harvesting a nice elk like this one can be tough but it isn't impossible. This bull was taken from a treestand.

While some elk hunters refuse to hunt near their bedding area, others will stalk within bow range of a bull in his bedroom and shoot them while they are lying down. Numerous record book bulls are shot this way almost every year because they can't be harvested any other way. When approaching a bedding area, it is often best to approach from above if the wind is right. Regardless of how a bedding area is elk hunted, it can be extremely difficult to get within range of a bull in his bed. A large bull always has cows with him and if the bull doesn't spot or smell the elk hunter, there is a good chance a cow will. Elk hunting in a bedding area can be risky because if a herd gets bumped from the security of their bedroom, there is a good chance they will leave the area and not return. However, if elk hunters are sneaky, harvesting a bull in his bed isn't impossible.

Another great place to elk hunt is near a wallow or watering hole. Elk typically visit a watering hole or wallow daily. During the early elk hunting season when the temperatures are extremely warm, there is no better place to elk hunt than near a well-used waterhole. Lots of tracks near a wallow, fresh droppings, and stirred up mud indicate a well-used waterhole. One way to ensure that a waterhole is being used is to hang a trail camera nearby. The trail camera will show if elk are visiting the waterhole. Most trail cameras will also tell what time the picture was taken which gives elk hunters a good idea of when to wait by the waterhole.

A tree stand is one way to elk hunt waterholes or wallows. Unlike deer that regularly look up when they travel, elk are rarely hunted from above. A well-placed tree stand twenty yards from a waterhole can be a great way to tag a bull.  Moving and drawing a bow or lifting a gun is much easier while in a tree stand.

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