Q: I have an archery elk hunt planned for the fall. What steps should I take in the next few months to help increase my chance of success?
A: The first step is to take one, followed by many more. Uphill, downhill and side hill. Elk hunting, even if you’re using horses, is going to require peak physical conditioning. To put an elk on the ground, you’ve got to be able to go where they go. Usually that’s at thin-aired elevations, in wild dark forested canyons, which are full of blowdowns and other leg busting obstacles. Start now to get in shape with a daily routine of running, hiking and lower body weight lifting. Your overall physical condition is going to play a major role in the success of your elk hunt.
Q: What calls are easiest to use?
A: The easiest, but not always the most effective, are hand held squeeze bulbs.
Q: What about calling? How do I learn when and how to call?
A: Like any skill, practice, practice and practice. Most calls come with some type of a tutorial tape, CD or even DVD. These will help you in at least getting some noise out of the calls. Once you’re comfortable with the mechanics, go out with an experienced caller and let them listen and critique what you’re doing. Have them “holler” while you listen. Then, try and duplicate some of their techniques. Finally, find a time during the season when you can go out and do nothing but call. Leave your weapon behind so you’re focusing just on talking to the animals. Once your confidence level is up, have at it. One word of advice, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. I’ve seen elk respond to some pretty weak calls. Last year in Wyoming, I watched a guy call a bull in while using 6 inches of a garden hose. The noise coming out of that thing was totally foreign to me, but the bull sure liked it. His rack is currently over the hunter’s mantle.
Q: How do you have your bow set up for elk?
A: I’m currently hunting high country elk with either a rifle or muzzleloader.
Q: What is your favorite tactic for calling in a bull once you locate him?
A: Once I get a bull coming my way, I use nothing but a cow call. I’ll put out a good invitation about every 10 to 15 minutes until he’s within range.
Q: How important is scent control? Some guys say “just hunt the wind”?
A: Scent control is very important. Never forget that an elk’s sense of smell is its primary detection mechanism against danger. Their nose is what protects them. Just “hunt the wind” is not giving you the full advantage you might need to kill an elk. In elk country, you’re dealing with thermal winds at dawn and dusk; with swirling wind during the day. You’re always going to be sweating and emitting odors from the inside out, during the entire hunt. Use whatever you can to control your scent.
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