Every deer hunter is an elk hunter ready to be activated.
In terms of inches of antler, pounds of venison, acres of activity, and intensity of experience, elk are like whitetails with the volume turned up. Way up.
Some of you know that already, which is why the population of Western states swells starting in early September, why you can’t book a motel room in Dillon, Montana or Preston, Idaho or Show Low, Arizona from Labor Day through Halloween. It’s why fleets of pickups with Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania plates crowd Forest Service trailheads even on weekdays in November when the whitetail rut is distracting their friends back home.
Some of you already know the stomach-tightening thrill of hearing a distant bugle just as others of you crave the breath-stealing challenge of hunting elk at high elevations.
But for most deer hunters, elk remain aspirational animals, residents of Someday Country. You’ll consider an elk hunt when you can save up enough for the nonresident hunting license. You’ll take your boy when he graduates high school. You’ll start getting in shape next year so you can hack the mountains the following fall.
It’s time to start turning your dreams of elk into plans to hunt them.
That’s the main idea of Record Quest, Outdoor Life’s celebration of elk, elk country and elk hunting. We’re going to turn up the volume even more on your elk-hunting ambitions, and help turn that restless desire into fulfilled memories of hunting elk.
Just as Record Quest devoted last year to trophy whitetails, we’re turning our attention this summer and fall to whopper bulls. We’ll talk about basic elk gear and advanced hunting tactics for the biggest studs. We’ll take a deep look at classic elk landscapes and tell you where, and when, to find elk in them. We’ll take what appears like the impossible challenge of calling in a herd bull and break it into distinct, achievable parts. We’ll look at the best bargains and the lowest odds for elk tags and we’ll tell the grand story of elk reintroductions around the country.
We’ll look at the newest gadgets and the best tried-and-true gear. We’ll pick the brains of top elk guides for tips and cutting-edge tactics they use to unlock stubborn bulls. We’ll take you along on hunts from Montana to Wyoming to Oregon as we chase elk with compounds, crossbows and rifles, and we’ll interview hunters who kill the season’s biggest bulls.
We’ll celebrate elk and elk country, but we’ll also talk about threats to success, from predators to habitat constraints to the down side of elk reintroductions. It’s all part of a wide-ranging, honest conversation about what it takes to keep elk on the landscape, and the skills required to routinely kill them.
Check back regularly for updates to Record Quest – Elk. As the fall archery season approaches we’ll get you ready with gear and skills and perspectives. We’ll transition right into rifle seasons, bringing you intelligence on how elk are behaving and how you should be hunting them every week of the fall.
Meanwhile, keep an eye on the pages of Outdoor Life for specific elk tactics and gear. And follow along as fellow OL editors and I continue our odyssey to hunt the wildest places for the biggest bulls in America.
We want you to ride shotgun, and hopefully our conversation will turn up the volume on your own elk-hunting dreams so you have plenty of information and encouragement to create your own Year of the Elk.