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I recently won a Montana elk tag and am preparing for my first elk hunt. I could use all the help I can get from the experienced

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  • I recently won a Montana elk tag and am preparing for my first elk hunt. I could use all the help I can get from the experienced

    I recently won a Montana elk tag and am preparing for my first elk hunt. I could use all the help I can get from the experienced members here. What are your thoughts on shooting a nice deer while rifle hunting for elk? Is it OK or does it just detract from your chances of getting an elk?

  • #2
    You know if you opt out of the tag, on day one you will have a giant mulie standing broadside at 200 yards. Also how long do you have to hunt because if it is more than 2 or 3 days the odds of getting a rifle elf and deer go up. what type of country are you hunting? If it is dense country with only shorter shots jumping a deer in search of elk is definitely possible, or more open where you will be glassing and then stalking (this is where the time factor comes in). Finally how important is getting an elk to you? Personally i get an elk tag about once every ten years here in arizona so i would chase elk exclusively but if I could hunt every year or every few years it would be a different story.

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    • #3
      I have been to many elk camps where everyone also had deer tags. There is no reason not to do both. The one thing I would keep in mind though - if you drop a deer, you're going to have to spend a while dealing with it, and that's time that could be spent looking for elk.

      If you won the elk tag, chances are it's for a great area with pretty good numbers of elk around. I wouldn't hesitate to go for both, as long as I was able to devote at least 4-5 days to the elk.

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      • #4
        Dakota, Buy every tag available for any big game in the area where you will be hunting.
        I went on a Colorado on a guided archery hunt for elk and mule deer. The guide told me to hunt a tree stand near an elk wallow. I had a large beautiful chocolate phase black bear walk slowly under me and I failed to buy a bear tag. Now, whenever I go out west I buy every tag available for all big game in season for that location.
        Don’t make the same blunder as me. Good Luck!

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        • #5
          Well, you already had to lay out the money for a deer tag to be able to draw an elk tag so just as well fill it if the opportunity avails itself. I shot an awful lot of deer when elk hunting. They eat just as well. Elk hunting is usually quite hit and miss whereas deer hunting is more dependable. If you're on an elk track or can hear them bugling then maybe hold off on shooting a deer if one pops up. Otherwise take the deer. A good deer is better than nothing and nothing is what elk hunting too often amounts to.

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          • #6
            I also encounter nice bucks when elk hunting. The dilemma is do you want to devote the time to taking care of a buck when you could be looking for that huge bull. Deer hunting is secondary to me so I would only shoot a buck when elk hunting if I thought he would place well into the book. But then I live in Wyoming and can hunt bucks some other day.

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            • #7
              I hunt where there are both so you might take this with a grain of salt. If two seasons run concurrent then I will always see to it that I have a tag in my pocket for species open. Years ago I made the mistake of not doing this and had to watch one of the larger deer I've seen while hunting slowly amble past. Now, I wouldn't focus or put any effort into finding deer, but if a brute shows itself then you will be a legal beagle.

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              • #8
                A buck in the scope is worth two elk you've yet to see. If the opportunity presents itself take a deer. And don't worry about your shot at a deer chasing off an elk. I've shot a coyote and 15 minutes later killed an elk 100 yards away on the same slope. I hunt late elk season usually, so deer has closed by the time I'm hunting elk. But, I know lots of guys who have killed deer and elk on the same day when the seasons overlap.

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                • #9
                  Congratulations on the elk tag, you are in for a treat. I would get the deer tag. Better to have it and not need than need it .... etc.
                  As far as the rifle goes you can count on it getting dinged. I don't know how many times I have fallen on the .270 I used for elk but it exhibits a rather battered appearance. Go for rugged and reliable.
                  Have fun! They are amazing creatures in some just drop dead beautiful country.

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                  • #10
                    I am assuming you are hunting the general season in MT when both deer and elk are open in most units. As a general rule, I have held up on deer on opening day so as not to take time away from undisturbed elk on day one. However, last year I saw shooter bucks on day one and did not see even a forkie the rest of the week. My buddy shot a near-booner mulie opening day about a mile from me and only saw a couple of cow elk the remainder of the week. so you never know....

                    In the past, I only bought a deer tag to pass the time after tagging my elk until the other guys tag out and are ready to head home. But from now on, I will take a shooter buck anytime unless I see, hear, or smell elk! If he's a wall hanger, 'Choot 'im!

                    I'm waiting to see if I get drawn for mule deer in Colorado. Results are due the next week or two. Best of luck to you!

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                    • #11
                      I'll have at least a week to hunt, maybe more if I don't want to go home and weather is inviting. So far it sounds like my normal "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" philosophy still applies. I'll be hunting an area 5000-6000 feet with resident elk and a few deer in SW Montana. I have no idea how I will do it at this point and am full of questions. I appreciate the help... Thanks to all!

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                      • #12
                        Get the deer tag, take whichever shot is available first. Elk tend to move a little later in the day than deer, but are a whole lot more trouble to gut, skin, and butcher. Elk are a chore! Get the best binoculars you can afford, they are as big an asset as your rifle. If you have one, a battery operated reciprocating saw is handy for butchering, assuming you don't have to quarter the elk out where you shoot it. After our experience the last time, the rule is; "shoot elk on level ground. Shoot elk with lot of daylight left." Good luck, and have fun!
                        crm

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                        • #13
                          What crm3006 said, jack! I try to hunt where I have a strategy for getting elk out before I shoot! Not so in the younger days. Use a rifle that will anchor them where you can get to them. Horses make it much easier in many ways.

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                          • #14
                            But understand that there are many, many places where elk will be that horses can't get to. Many non-resident dudes I ran into back in the old days just couldn't grasp that.

                            I remember my first big bull. It was shot in a place that I knew was just barely retrievable even with livestock. Took two weeks to get it all out (interrupted by injury to assistant and then a severe storm and cold spell). Anyway, I removed the antlers and took them out over my shoulders to the vehicle when I went to arrange for horses. It was four or five miles to the truck. Threw them in the back of 1959 Chev pickup and, as you can see, the massive brow tines still stuck up well above the sides of the box. Had a regular caravan following me back to the dude ranch complex. At the campground I pulled in to get some long overdue grub in my gut. Two dudes from Florida in a little Jeep rolled up with the rest of the crowd to admire the rack. Both were rotund fellas in all the most expensive orange finery money could buy. They asked me where I got it and I waved vaguely at the range across the river. "Will you take us up? We'll pay you." Nope. You guys can't make it in there. "We'll rent some horses and ride up." The horses I'm renting aren't carrying anything up there except themselves and I'm only hoping they can make it in unloaded. Long pause. Then the fatter one says slowly with an awkward smile, "You know a rack like that is worth at least a hundred bucks a point." I looked at him. Guess there must have been something in my eyes they didn't like much because without saying another word they both promptly got in their little Jeep and departed.

                            Another time I was down at my favorite stomping grounds. The weather was miserable and I was about to go up to the divide for an evening hunt. A dude from Arkansas rolls up with his young son about twelve or so. They ask if I had seen any elk. Yep, saw a half dozen or so the previous weekend including a sort of respectable 6x6 bull. Oh boy, they were excited at that. "Where did you see them?" In a big basin up over the top of that divide. "Are you going up there now?" Hell no. Too late in the year to think about getting something out of there. "We can handle it. We'll bone em out for backpacks and take a week if needed." Buddy, you wouldn't get a DEER out of that hole even if you shot it a month ago. They drove up to the end of the road and took off up the mountain. I wasn't worried. I knew where they were headed would take them straight into an endless skree slide of big boulders that backed onto cliffs on three sides. The proverbial box canyon. They weren't going far. I also knew enough to take the "long way" and follow the ridge. Made it to the top while there was still daylight and saw a whopping big muley buck about a mile away on the other side of the basin through the glass. What a beauty he was standing in that snow! See ya, pal. Never saw the dude and his kid again though. I think they got enough of the "dream elk hunt" to last them the rest of their lives.

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                            • #15
                              Sorry, it wasn't the brow tines but rather the royal point sticking above the pickup box. Maybe brow tines too but definitely the big royal points.

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