So you drew a coveted elk tag in a great archery unit… The clock is ticking fast, I hope you’ve been preparing. Here are some quick tips for success.
Get in shape – being August it’s almost a little late for this one, but I bet you’ve been working on it. Step it up a notch. There are many was to prepare your body for the physical beating it will take on a high country elk hunt. I think one of the best is to strap on a heavy pack and walk the steepest hills your area has to offer. In my area we are fortunate enough to have access to a river hills trail. It’s not an 11,000 foot peak, but when you throw 40-60 lbs on your back it conditions your legs, back, and shoulders. If you don’t have any hills in your neighborhood, hit the gym and set the treadmill on the steepest setting. Do anything that will improve your lung capacity and strengthen your legs.
Shoot your bow! – This is a no brainer, get that thing tuned and be able to hit a golf ball at 40 yards. On western hunts it’s not uncommon to have 40-50 yard shots so if you want to be a good shot at 40 yards, practice at 60 yards. Shooting at targets farther than you are comfortable with, makes anything closer seem like a “gimme”. All that being said, respect the animal and know your shooting limits. One more thing: study elk anatomy. It’s different than whitetails. On a broadside elk, a high lung hit about 8-10 inches behind the shoulder blade is lethal. Watch out for the perfect middle, right behind the shoulder hit. There is a small void close to the shoulder where you can miss the lungs and heart.
Study up on elk calls and practice – If you want to kill an elk, you better know how to sound like one. Google “Elknut Productions”, this guy has some great instructional DVD’s on elk calling. Don’t fret if you’re not an expert caller; just don’t try to be a pro-caller when you are hunting. If you’re sneaky and play the wind I think you’ll do fine.
Remember this: elk hate people and their best defense is the ability to smell. If you hunt a canyon and get winded a couple times, those elk could easily leave, which is why tip #1 becomes important. You may have to hike further than anyone else to get into the elk. Bivy-sack deep into the wilderness if that’s what it takes. Be mentally tough. Elk hunting can be a mental roller coaster ride. Those big bulls never give it to you; you’ve got to take it from them! Perseverance is the greatest element of success. Good hunting to you!