Itís an adage among some hunters that ďThe Elk are where you find them.Ē There is a lot of truth to this statement as these elusive denizens of the forest are famous for their ghost like qualities to appear and disappear in a heartbeat or two. Their long legs and stride can move them over mountains and distance in just a blink or two of the eye.
There are things you can do, however, to enhance your opportunities for success when entering into elk country.
For the Early Rut and Bugle hunt itís a good idea to have an understanding of the big bullís habits in the weeks leading up to the rut. The heat of the summer puts the elk in search of their favorite wallows. They enjoy a good mud bath to help deal with the flies and mosquitos as well as the heat of the day. It is not unusual to find the area around their watering holes and wallows marked by their rubs as they seek to remove the velvet from their antlers on a small lodge pole or other tree. Often there will be rubs from prior years also that give you an indication you are in their summer territory.
In addition to their rubs, the hunter is wise to know that an understanding of their browsing habits is useful too. Often you can see the tops of the bear grass have been eaten. It is almost like candy to them. As the weather cools and the green grass withers to brown the elk start to eat the small budded branches of various shrubs such as service berry and others. The observant hunter can see where they have been foraging and also see signs of their tracks and droppings.
One of the keys to having a successful elk hunt is discovering where they bed down. Often it might be on a knob or a ridge where they have a good view of the approach from below. It is not uncommon for the herd to post a lookout that is bedded down with an excellent view. If the hunting pressure is up, the elk will bed down in a north slope where the brush is thick, still quite often they will post a lookout to watch their back trail.
If you come across fresh beds, rubs and signs of their foraging, at least you know that the elk may not be far away.