23 Aug 4 Tips For Last Minute Elk Scouting
Why are public land elk so difficult to hunt? They know every inch of their landscape. What we enjoy for a few weeks each year, they live 24/7. With the constant threat of predation, they know escape routes and safe zones. They know how to move and where to go when hunting pressure becomes a threat.
As hunters, it’s critical that we understand the landscape too. If you only have a day or two to scout before the start of a hunt, it’s important to focus your efforts on understanding the landscape and where elk are most likely to move.
When you’re short on time, here are four tips for last-minute elk scouting:
1. Find the Food
Elk eat a variety of grasses and plants. However, they are predominantly grazers and prefer high quality grass first. Look for places that offer both excellent grass, and safe grazing conditions.
Find the meadows that are surrounded by cover, or avalanche chutes that offer green grass and quick escapes. An elk’s desire to find quality feed will always be balanced by the relative safety of that location. That’s why you’ll often find elk feeding at the edges of burns, where quality grass and safety meet.
Remember, elk must eat, even during the hunting season. When pressure is high, they will utilize available cover to move between bedding and protected feeding areas. Your first job is to find these areas.
2. Follow the Sign
Elk can be elusive, but they leave no shortage of sign. Look for scat, tracks, and bedding areas that have been utilized on a regular basis. Notice the difference between sign that elk have passed through, versus signs of frequent and recent use. If the sign isn’t fresh, keep looking.
Take note of the areas with heavy sign, then hike to a high vantage point and scout for potential travel routes. Start connecting the dots between bedding and feeding areas so that you can set up along these routes.
3. Look for Water
Elk need water, and you will too on a backcountry hunt. Find reliable water sources and look for sign. When the weather is warm during the early season, elk like to wallow too. A stagnant mud pool can be an elk’s favorite place to visit on a hot September day.
Areas with limited water sources increase your chances of finding elk at a single spot. In areas with abundant water, sitting water is much less reliable. In either case however, you’re trying to assemble the puzzle pieces between, feeding, bedding, water and security.
4. Locate Funnels and Pinch Points
Use your binoculars to get familiar with the landscape. It’s not all about finding animals while scouting. Find the drainages that have heavy timber and year-round water sources. Then, look for the roughest parts of these places to find travel routes.
Take note of areas with very steep hillsides and impassable obstacles. These areas will create funnels that force a specific route. You can plan ambushes, and focus on these narrow corridors during your hunt.
Planning a Colorado Elk Hunt
If you’d like more information on elk hunting in Colorado with Dark Timber Outfitters, or late season hunts with Timber to Table Guide Service, please give Adam a call at 208-691-3014 or send us a message. For prices and other general information, please explore the rest of our website at DarkTimberLodge.com.