Old 02-26-2019, 10:27 AM
Champlain Islander
Dominant Buck
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Vermont
Posts: 21,371

I was a late in life elk hunter. 2 of my hunting partners and I decided to try out elk hunting in Colorado in the early 2000's. Rob had the only experience with hunting the west and that was for mulies and pronghorn. So 3 experienced eastern whitetail hunters took off on a cross country truck trip to learn all we could about elk hunting. I hunted for around 10 years straight and took 6 elk so we all did learn as we went. The other guys had similar results. We all had the basics with equipment but over the years added a few specialty items more suited for western type hunting. One of the first things that comes to mind is get into the best shape you can possibly be. The altitude where the elk are normally at in early September to late October is much higher than any of us could have imagined. The steep terrain and rare air makes everything more difficult. Speaking of altitude we learned along the way that altitude sickness can come into play. I experienced it on one of my first years and every year after that took a prescription med called diamox which conditioned my blood to work better at altitude. It is a common treatment.to prevent altitude sickness and other than a couple of minor side affects is an easy solution to what could be a trip killer or worse. The west is a bit more vast than what most of us are used to so a good compass,topo maps and a GPS are good tools to keep everything straight. Elk are vocal so having a couple of calls seems to help out. An easy bullet proof call is a hoochi mama call. It can hang around your neck or sit inside a vest pocket and to operate it just squeeze the bulb. Cow elk make a lot of noise in the woods and often you can hear them mewing back and forth before you see them. They travel mostly in large herds so there is always a few eyes looking around so it is easy to get busted. I did have some success still hunting them but found that I had to go much slower than when hunting deer. They are big and numerous when herded up so seeing them before they see you is quite possible if you are a good still hunter. Out west there are a lot of terrain changes to help conceal your hunting. One issue that is more of a problem are the winds. Out west they seem to ebb and flow in the traditional ways between morning and evening but because of the mountains and numerous canyons the wind tend to constantly swirl and switch directions. Having a powder wind detector is a good way to combat that problem. Elk have a very keen sense of smell and if they get a whiff of a human they are often gone from the area and they don't stop. Being a herd animal they leave a lot of sign with tracks and droppings so when I am still hunting or just covering land scouting, I look for the fresh sign then slow down. Another specialty item is a good pack frame along with a bunch of hunting buddies to get an elk out of the woods. Learn the gutless method of field dressing ..it will keep both you and the meat cleaner. A Wyoming saw is another specialty item I carry just to get through the bones when field dressing. Another item used after the elk is down are game bags which can cover the meat, keeping both dirt and flies off from it when transporting it out of the woods. Generally when an elk is down it takes most of the day to get it out so having help available is always best.
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