Hunting elk is my passion and my life. Here, in part 2 of 3, are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up through experience that I hope bring you success throughout this hunting season.
Click here to read Part 1.
If you get into a situation where you accidentally bump an elk or a herd of elk—we’ve all done it—try to stay out of sight to their parallel, but do not chase them. Once the herd or bull settles down, resume your calling session, keeping things calm and the emotion low.
Dealing With Meddlers
If a cow or non-shooter bull comes into your calling sequence, the clock is now ticking. They’ll know something is wrong if they don’t see an elk, and it’s only a matter of time before they bark—and then things get difficult to recover from.
Before the non-shooter has an opportunity to bark, stand up and walk or run toward them quickly, chasing them off followed immediately by a bugle. This will tell a story to the bull you're working that you are a rival bull that’s in the process of stealing his cows. This is a better alternative than having a cow or non-shooter bull bark at you. And if the bull is hot, this will send him over the moon with anger and he will oftentimes come in for a fight—hard and fast.
Use Of Scents
Years ago, I used to douse myself in elk urine, but what I’ve found is that once I smell like an elk I can no longer smell elk. Losing or inhibiting your ability to smell a rutty bull is not good, especially if they’re silent. There are countless times that I couldn’t see or hear the bull, but I could smell the bull with the wind in my face, allowing me the opportunity to develop a hunt strategy.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use elk urine scent. I’m simply suggesting that you don’t put it directly on your body. Spray the scent or wipe the gel on shrubs, bushes or trees that surround you. This way, when you get up and leave that set, you can still smell elk.
Use Of Decoys
Using decoys can mean the difference between success and failure. I literally arrowed my first branch bull from behind a Montana Decoy. If you’re going to use a decoy in a calling scenario, place the decoy between your shooter and caller. If the decoy frightens or startles the bull, your shooter might still be in range for a shot. Conversely, if the bull wants to run to the decoy, he will go right by your shooter.
Trust Your Camo
As hunters, we have the best camouflage that’s ever been made. You don’t need to hide behind brush or trees because they might impede your shot opportunities. Bulls will scare over movement, so watch how you time your draw and you should be fine.
Also, if you cannot see the bull’s eyes—if he’s moving his head, such as raking a tree or fighting—you can get away with a lot of movement. Don’t freeze up and be afraid to move yourself into a position to be able to take a shot. Just make sure that you time your movement and if you don’t have the right opportunity to move, then don’t.
When hunting big elk, it’s the little things that make all the difference.