The Truth About Elk Hunting

When Will Primos reaches into his elk-hunting bag of tricks, here are the 10 most-important strategies he keeps in mind. … Continued

1. Stink Stopper Most stories about elk hunts gone wrong are because hunters were scented or busted by game. So keep bacterial-caused odors (such as body odor) and non-bacterial odors (such as food-borne odors) to a minimum, and be mindful of wind direction. A windchecker for noting wind currents works well. The windchecker puts out a fine mist of odorless powder that enables a hunter to see air currents up to 15 feet away. Outdoor Life Online Editor
2. Speak Their Language Any day or week can be more or less intense as far as elk responding to calls is concerned. Herd bulls are in charge because cows are in estrous and the herd bull is keeping all the lesser bulls away. Because of this rut progression, you should become as proficient as possible in cow, calf and bull language. Start with soft cow and calf talk to sound like a group of elk looking for company then graduate the intensity of calling using estrous cow sounds to take a bull’s temperature so you will know what he responds best to. Outdoor Life Online Editor
3. It’s All Downhill A bull that is below and coming uphill to another bull is at a disadvantage-the uphill bull easily can overpower a potential downhill intruder. So you should get below a bull or on the same level with him in elevation before starting to call. I have seen calling work well many times after moving to get even or downhill from a bull. Before calling the bull, however, always work in from above the animal, and then move around and below him to a calling setup. Outdoor Life Online Editor
4. Buddy Up If you want to increase your chances 10-fold, have a buddy do the calling 50 to 150 yards behind you. Having a pal do the calling gets a bull’s attention on the calling and away from you. Your friend should start calling from your setup and move back letting the terrain dictate how much he moves. Moving helps make the calling more lifelike, and focuses the attention of the animal on the call, not on the shooter. Outdoor Life Online Editor
5. Raise A Ruckus Add realism to your calling by kicking rocks so they will roll downhill, stepping on sticks and rubbing a tree with a stick to simulate a bull rubbing his antlers. Rutting elk are not shy about kicking up a ruckus when corralling cows or intimidating other bulls. Outdoor Life Online Editor
6. Timing Is Everything This is vitally important- only draw your bow when you cannot be seen. That is not always possible, so wait for the right opportunity. Many times an elk will look away to bugle or look at another elk, which is when to draw. When you do make your move, do it in one smooth motion. If the elk bolts, have a mouth call ready to mew like a cow, which often makes him stop. If he does not stop at your first mew, then mew louder several times, which may confuse him and cause him to stop. Do not shoot a walking elk- simply mew softly at him, to make him stop. Outdoor Life Online Editor
7. Bull Talk Don’t just learn a simple whistle or bugle, and don’t bugle too long when calling. Most people bugle longer than a real bull. A bull’s full bugel is usually no more than 3 seconds. Learn to growl, moan, give a false start, aggravated bugle, and learn to bugle at a very high pitch. Outdoor Life Online Editor
8. Charge! Say you’ve found a bull that appears to be bedded after a hard night. He will answer calls, but won’t budge. Don’t be afraid to move in as close as possible and bugle a high-pitched call right in his face. This works best if the caller moves past the shooter to bugle in the bull’s face, then turns and runs past the shooter bugling at the same time. Most bulls can’t stand this and will get up to run off an intruder. It only works when you are coming from below a bull on a hillside. Outdoor Life Online Editor
9. Camo Counts The right camouflage makes a big difference. In addition, you do not always have to wear a facemask but in certain situations, it can make the difference in being seen or not seen. Don’t look an elk in the eye. If you make eye contact, your chances of spooking an elk are much greater. Close one eye, hide your eye or eyes behind your bow limb, or wear a good camo facemask. Outdoor Life Online Editor
10. Make The Shot Wait patiently for a broadside shot or one that’s slightly quartering away. You have worked hard for this moment, but if you cannot slam-dunk an elk in the boiler room, then don’t shoot. It’s a disappointment not to get a shot at a bull you’ve worked long and hard for. But it is far worse to take a marginal shot and wound one of these magnificent animals. “Do it right, or not at all,” are words to live by in elk hunting. Outdoor Life Online Editor

When Will Primos reaches into his elk-hunting bag of tricks, here are the 10 most-important strategies he keeps in mind. By Bob McNally.