Elk Hunting Preparation – Clothing

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Elk hunting weather can range from balmy in September to a blizzard in November. Unfortunately, a blizzard in September is not unusual in the high country, so an elk hunter should be prepared for these extremes.

Even during balmy daytime weather, nights will be cool and often frosty, with heavy dew in the morning which usually soaks a hunter’s legs to mid-calf. As a result, the bowhunter should plan to wear warm clothes for the morning hunt, such as a light cotton underwear and light cotton camo outerwear. He can then take off the long underwear during the midday hunting lull after the temperature rises to a comfortable level.

The rifle hunter should plan to wear heavier polypropylene long underwear with medium weight wool pants and jacket that will shed rain, snow and cold wind. Avoid wearing heavy outer clothing. Climbing through the rugged western terrain will cause a hunter to sweat profusely if he wears clothing that is too heavy. In stead, plan to layer your clothing. Wear an extra vest or heavy shirt while hunting during those first few colder hours of morning, but then shed the under garments as the temperature rises and you begin to move around.

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Always carry a backpack to store this extra clothing. If a sudden storm should develop while you’re a few miles from camp, you can continue hunting by slipping on the extra clothing.

Every hunter should carry some type of rain gear for protection against the sudden cold rainstorms that can quickly develop in the mountains in the fall, for two reasons. Most importantly, waterproof rain gear will protect you from hypothermia. And second, the elk usually become very active before and after a storm, so if you’re out there hunting at these times, you’ll have a much better opportunity at an elk.

Rain gear can be as simple as an inexpensive poncho stuffed into your backpack, or it may be a top quality, Gortex-lined camouflage patterned pants and jacket that will allow a hunter to stay warm while hunting through rain and snow, when the elk are less wary and moving more.


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