Editor’s Note: Since Alaska’s elk season begins in August, and Colorado’s muzzleloader elk season starts in September, you need to prepare now by learning as much information as you can about elk.
Tip 1) Use Hunting Pressure as an Advantage:
I retired from the Sara Lee Bakery Group 10-years ago, so I can elk hunt for an entire month now if I want. Most people who hunt elk will plan a 2-week hunt, which for me was 2 days getting to Colorado and 2 days getting home, so I only had 10 days to actually hunt. If the area you’re hunting receives 3 or 4 days of rain, it’s even less hunting time. If there are a lot of hunters in the area where I’ll be, I just move further away from them. That’s when I may travel 5-miles before daylight to get to a spot where no one else wants to go. Too, I’ve hunted one area for 25 years. When you hunt the same place for that long, you soon learn where the elk go when hunting pressure builds-up. Elk don’t have escape trails like whitetails do, but they’ll show up in corridors when hunting pressure builds. They have certain drainages, ridges and benches on the sides of mountains they prefer. The heavier the hunting pressure is, the further they’ll move. There’s one area where I hunt that where elk will move-out of the black timber and aspens when there’s pressure and come-down the mountain to the oak brush and junipers. They don’t like being down there, because the lower elevations are dry and hot. However, they have more cover in the oak brush.
One of the real secrets for success on public-land elk is to learn about other hunters just as much as the elk. If you know when and where they hunt, finding a place away from those hunters becomes much easier. If you go to places where other hunters won’t hunt, you’ll be in the spots elk have to be to survive. I use other hunters to push elk to me. Often if I know there will be hunting pressure, I’ll put a tree stand up over a wallow where I want to hunt. When other hunters see that orange vest above a wallow, they usually skirt around me. I’ve had hunters come in and sit close to the base of my tree. I’ll clear my throat, and they’ll look up, spot me and move on.
Tip 2) Wear Camouflage to Match the Terrain:
Wearing the appropriate camouflage also is an important factor in taking public-land elk. Some camo patterns fit better and blend-in better in certain terrain. When I’m hunting in the oaks, I wear Mossy Oak (www.mossyoak.com) Obsession, in an open area, I wear Mossy Oak Brush and in black timber I’ll wear the new Mossy Oak Break-Up. When I go to hunting camp, I usually have at least three types of camo with me. I carry enough camo to change clothes twice a day for 2 weeks before I have to do laundry. I’m a fanatic about having the right camo for the right terrain, especially on public lands.
By: Bill Custer of Clovis, California, who has hunted elk in Oregon, New Mexico and Utah, with 90-percent of his hunting in Colorado on public lands.