Elk Hunting – Weapons


Elk are harvested using four different hunting weapons: bow, high powered rifle, muzzleloader and pistol. Each weapon is unique in its capabilities, and specific hunting methods are required for each weapon.

Most elk are harvested using the high powered rifle. About 150,000 elk are killed by gun hunters annually in the western elk states. Even with that staggering harvest, elk herds are flourishing and still growing.

The most challenging method of elk hunting is with bow and arrow. A bowhunter must get within 30 yards of an elk before he can realistically expect to kill that bull. Even then a kill is not assured. In fact, archery success among elk hunters is only about eight percent. However, most elk archery seasons occur during the rut, and most archery hunters will tell you that they bowhunt elk more for the excitement of the elk rut, than for a trophy on the wall.

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Muzzleloader elk hunting has become very popular in recent years, and most western states now offer a special muzzleloader elk hunt. Some of these hunts occur after the general rifle season has ended. But other states, such as Colorado, run their black powder season concurrent with the last half of archery season when the bulls are in full rut.

Currently, no states offer a special pistol elk hunting seasons. However, some pistol enthusiasts hunt elk during the general rifle season and have developed loads and pistol accuracy to drop an elk at a hundred yards or more.

It is obvious that elk hunters can have their pick of just about any hunting weapon and its corresponding hunting technique to harvest a bull. So take your pick, whether it is the beauty of high technology with the high powered rifle, or the simplicity and woodsmanship required to get within killing range of a bull with a bow and arrow. No matter what hunting weapon you choose, the excitement of pursuing the mighty bull elk in a western state should be one of the foremost hunting dreams of every sportsman.


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