Basic Elk Hunting Rules
The following rules should help to increase your chance for success during your hunt.
- Do not shoot unless you are sure of your target and you have a shot at the “kill zone” of the elk.
- When trying to find a good spot to sit or choosing which direction to hike, always try to have the sun at your back. It is very frustrating when you are hunting early in the morning or late in the evening and see an elk but when you raise your gun, all you can see is the sun through the scope.
- Walk into the wind whenever possible. If elk smell you before you see them, chances are your success rate will be low.
- In heavily forested areas, hunt the north facing slopes. Elk will typically bed down on the north facing slopes.
- Hunt as far away from roads as you are physically capable. However, keep in mind that if you hike in 2-3 miles, your chances for success greatly increases, but so does the possibility of having to pack out several hundred extra pounds of elk for 2-3 miles.
- Walk slowly and quietly. A good rule of thumb is to take 15-20 steps and then stop and listen for about 5 minutes before proceeding. Generally, if you are sweating, you are going to fast.
- If you wound an elk and it manages to run out of site, STOP. Many times a wounded elk will bed down if not immediately pursued. Wait about 30 minutes and survey the surroundings and listen to try to determine the direction the elk is heading. You would be amazed at how long you can hear an elk running through wooded areas. Also, try to determine the direction the elk will be heading based on the surrounding topography. After about 30 minutes, go to the area where you last saw the elk and look for a blood trail. If you find one, follow it very slowly and quietly. If not, continue hiking in the direction you think the elk headed.
- Hunt as far away from “safe havens” such as large tracts of private land or areas where hunting is not allowed such as national parks. Elk will move to these areas rather quickly once the hunting season starts.
- Find areas that have the three things elk need to survive–Forage, Cover, and Water–within close proximity of each other.
- If there is not much fresh sign in an area, find a different area to hunt regardless of how good the area may look or whether you have had success in the past in this area.
- More to come. Also, submit your own elk hunting tips if you like and I will include them on this page below with an acknowledgement to the author.