19 Apr 4 Tips to Remember for Your First Rocky Mountain Elk Hunt
There aren’t many things in life more exciting than an elk hunt and your first hunt is a special experience. Simply entering elk country and hiking where elk live is a special experience. They are fascinating, elusive and challenging. You will be surprised at how a group of 10 cow elk can slide through the heaviest timber without making a peep and a massive bull can appear and just as easily disappear into a secret bed.
Here are a few tips to make the most of your first elk hunt.
1. Train for the Hunt
You can have the best guide around but you still must be able to get in position and pull the trigger. The two basic elements to training are physical and shooting.
Sight your rifle at the range but also shoot regularly with the exact rounds you will use on the hunt. Ideally, you will shoot an elk under a few hundred yards. However, preparing up to 400 yards is prudent. Get off the bench rest and practice shooting in more realistic hunting postisions. Finally, be sure to pratice in the clothing you plan to wear hunting, including your bino harness and backpack.
On the physical front, hiking steep terrain with a loaded pack is your best route to prepare. If the terrain is not accessible near your home, run stairs and workout on any incline possible. There’s nothing you can do to simulate the altitude you’ll experience here in Colorado. But do your best to get in the best shape possible. When climbing those hills, you’ll be glad you did!
2. Have Patience and a Positive Attitude
Be patient, work the glass, and keep a positive mental attitude. A good portion of elk hunting success comes down to finding excellent scouting positions where you can spend critical hours scouring multiple drainages with your binoculars.
Expect difficult hikes up the mountain and long sits behind the glass. Get into position early so you can glass the very first two hours of daylight. Your best odds of seeing elk occur during the first and last hours of the day.
No matter what the weather or hunting conditions deliver, it’s important to keep a positive mental attitude. This is big, rugged country. Unlike much of whitetail country, there may only be a handful of animals per square mile. When the going gets tough, remember that things can change in a second. Be ready to capitalize on the opportunity when it does.
3. Dress for Success
That initial hike up the mountain will have you warmed up and sweating, but the following hours of glassing will freeze you out. Wear light layers on the way up then stack on layers when you sit down to glass. It’s all about staying dry and cool on the hike in, and warm when idle. Consider packing a thermos of hot coffee to drink when when you sit down to glass and start cooling off.
4. Strategy First
When you spot elk, the adrenaline kicks in quickly and it’s easy to rush yourself. Elk are masters at giving you the slip. Being patient and developing a careful strategy is critical. Watch them and pay close attention to the direction of their movement along with the wind. Sometimes, waiting for them to bed is ideal and it opens a window to move into a better position. Take a minute and work through a game plan before rushing into position. It’s often the difference between success and another elk in the wind.