I don’t care if you are a total whitetail freak, the sight of a bull elk,
moose or even a caribou has to get your heart racing. The pounds of headgear
alone are enough to make me reconsider the décor in my great room. If you
like antlers, then these three contenders should be considered for an
early-season adventure. Of the three biggies, elk are at the top.
Why? Basically it comes down to price. Elk tags are fairly easy to obtain,
the hunting is affordable and within reach of the average American. The same
can’t be said of a hunt for moose or caribou, except in a few rare
Elk hunting opportunities are increasing across the West and even east of
the Mississippi with seasons in states like Arkansas and Kentucky. So why
talk about these super-sized critters on a whitetail blog? Elk seasons are
poised to kick off across the West and if you like big antlers, there’s no
better opportunity in North America to get your own pair than elk hunting.
Plus, the elk rut spikes earlier and provides you nutty action prior to the
whitetail rut in November. That’s right. You can get your adrenaline fix
earlier since the peak of the elk rut occurs in most areas in mid-September.
Not only that, it can be crazier than most whitetail rut-hunts because of
the intensity of interacting with elk through vocalizations.
Unlike a decade or so ago when elk hunting opportunities were limited, you
can now apply and get elk hunting licenses with relative ease, especially in
densely populated states like Colorado and Montana. Colorado even has over
the counter opportunities for archery and rifle hunts. Your best bet is to
consider an archery hunt and begin applying for preference points. You’ll
likely acquire a license in four years or less in many states, plus you’ll
get to hunt the rut for in-you-face action.
I try to slip in at least one early-season whitetail hunt each September,
but most weeks are spent in pursuit of elk with my bow. One season I was
hunting with a pal and we slipped into the middle of a herd that contained a
hot cow. Bulls were screaming every few seconds and trying their best to cut
the cow away for breeding. In a matter of minutes we called in three
satellite bulls to 30 yards or less with one almost running us over. We
didn’t connect on that setup, but I left the mountain a day later with a
respectable six-point bull and my adrenalin fix until the whitetail rut
kicked off in November. It was a super-sized adventure.—Mark Kayser