Bowhunting Elk: The Basics

Posted by: Tracy Breen on Aug 21, 2012
Page 3 of 3

You will want a good GPS because elk often live deep in the backcountry.  Finding them requires putting a few miles each day under your boots.  If you don’t know how to read a compass and GPS, you could get yourself into trouble.  Elk hunting isn’t like backyard deer hunting.  Knowing how to navigate in and out of the backcountry is necessary.  The easiest way to do this is with a good GPS.  A recent study done in Pennsylvania indicated that most deer hunters there don’t travel more than a half mile from their truck while deer hunting.  This is for two reasons: they are lazy and afraid of getting lost.  If you want to become a successful elk hunter, you can’t be afraid of either.  Every time I elk hunt, I rarely know where I am, but my compass and GPS helps me get back to the tent every night.


Filling an Elk tag has more to do with physical conditioning rather than calling skill or technique.

Failing to plan is planning to fail. If you want to be successful, you must plan. Most of my western hunts are planned a year in advance. I choose where I will hunt and who I will hunt with a year ahead of time.  I purchase topographical maps for the area I will hunt in.  My hunting buddy and I strategize, choose our spike camp locations and call biologists to learn as much as we can about an area ahead of time so when the season opens, we are ready to fling arrows. 
You will notice this article contained very little information about calling elk or the act of elk hunting. Most first time elk hunters don’t go home empty handed because they don’t know how to call elk or know how to hunt.  They go home empty handed because the terrain overwhelms them, the physical part of the hunting is more than they can handle and the gear they bought wasn’t up to the task.  If you want to be successful on a do-it-yourself hunt, practice shooting, exercise, and make sure you have the right gear.  The archery elk success is only about 10% in most Western states.  The odds are against you, but if you work hard and hunt hard, you may be part of the 10%. 

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