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Well guys, there are often times that questions asked here are pretty specific and don't get rewarded with an answer as a result

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  • Well guys, there are often times that questions asked here are pretty specific and don't get rewarded with an answer as a result

    Well guys, there are often times that questions asked here are pretty specific and don't get rewarded with an answer as a result. Then, there are the vague ones, where the writer must assume we have an innate sense of understanding, that we generally do not. We'll I have faith in you, and I want to know about elk... I'm from Maine, moved to Wyoming, and plain old elk ignorant. It would be safe to say I can tell the difference from a bull and a cow, and an elk and a caribou. Much more than that would mean you're assuming too much. So please fellas, tell me what you know, from habitat, to favorite grub, lethal calibers or how to gut and hang em. Heck, I dont even know if they cook up the same as deer or moose. So roast me, degrade my intelligence and make me feel dumb, but tell me something important about the critter.

  • #2
    Elk are a very social animal. That can be their downfall as they often wait and see what is following them. The exception was anything coming down from above usually made them bolt (perhaps because of cougars?). Now, mind you, my experience hunting elk predated the wolf recovery so maybe things are different now. When the snow hits elk like to feed on western slopes which are typically dryer and not as thick, but preferably near some low spot that will allow them to run over to the thick stuff on north or east slopes in a hurry. Stick to the ridges. You can cover more country quicker and quieter. Covering more territory increases your odds of hitting a track. I found that elk will usually hang to the lower parts of a mountain park when feeding and they almost always bed down there. If you see that elk have been feeding on an open hill during the night, expect that they are very likely bedded in the timber just below it. Know what is possible and what is not. Don't track an elk into an alder filled canyon if there's no reasonable prospect of getting it out of there. When hunting the high country watch the long term weather forecast. It can take several days to get an elk out even with horses and the best of conditions. I never had much luck hunting from horses but that's mostly because the country was too rugged. Get off the horse trails and you're more likely to get into the elk. Travel light but travel safe. I never packed stuff like hatchets and stoves when hunting on foot. I usually pushed the envelope with my feed so won't give you much advice there. Carnation Breakfast Bars were my mainstay but I don't think they make them any more. I ate a lot of snow rather than packing water. It never killed me.

    There, that should give you something to start thinking about.

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    • #3
      Good Luck on your move...As for what Caliber to used on Elk, I'm sure the locals or Sport Shop will guide you to the best caliber to use.
      Happy Hunting.

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      • #4
        Thank you O.H.- I'm assuming because of their body mass, once gutted it is probably a good idea to open them up a little more than a deer? It would probably be safe to treat an elk more like a moose and split the neck and shoulders to cool them down? I keep hearing about their sweet smell, do they have any glands that should be removed to prevent the meet from taking an odd flavor?

        Also, as stupid as this may read, being in cow country, is there a big difference between their hoof? I could imagine that if there isn't, tracking a wounded elk could get tricky.

        Treestand- I'm hoping a resident tag will be an easy have next season, for both myself and my wife. My big caliber question is this. I own a .270 Wsm in an A-bolt that I would like to put my wife behind. With all the new bullet selections out there is there any reason to think that it wouldn't be an elk killer out to .300 yds? It seems to me that a TSX in .150 gr that's moving at 2600 fps and only dropping 6 inches is a pretty tough contender. I do understand there are more suitable choices in the .30 caliber range.

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        • #5
          Phw, if you bow hunt elk a few weeks before the rut kicks in, hunt a tree stand over a water hole or an elk wallow.

          The only call I took with me was a cow call. The cow call made elk believe that it was safe for them to come in.
          Don't over call!

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          • #6
            @PHW..Looking Up/Calibers most used on Elk are .300 Win-Mag and .325WSM are Top Picks among Elk Hunters, and Look-out for Grizzly Bears they tend to follow the Shot or Shots of an Elk Hunt, So have Enough GUN to fend-off Bears while your Gutting your Elk. ps. I'm NOT an Elk Hunter.

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            • #7
              Most truly wild grizzlies are not a problem. Take precautions if you have to leave the carcass to get horses or help. I usually built three small fires around the elk and peed liberally in the immediate area. Once followed a large grizzly track in a straight line to front quarters of a big bull. I had taken precautions and it appeared to work. He got within about fifteen yards and then doglegged around it. And those quarters had been up there for two weeks (storm front blew in). At that late a date a grizzly shouldn't have been eating but that won't stop him from messing a carcass up to save for a later day. The butcher won't be too thrilled if you bring him some elk covered with grizz crap.

              If it's really cold out I never opened up neck or even split the sternum. Unless it's super cold you should get the animal up off the ground. Sliding tree limbs underneath works okay. If you have the misfortune of killing one in alder thicket pull it up on that stuff. The SKIN (sans hair) on an old bull can be an inch or more thick on neck and back of shoulders. Invariably that is where the bone sour starts if it doesn't get cooled down. In warm weather there is nothing for it but to get the animal quartered immediately. Be prepared for that. In those conditions bugs and birds will be much more of a threat than grizzlies. Have enough cheesecloth to cover the exposed parts and at least two extra el-cheapo orange hunting vests that you can hang up to keep the birds away. That works the best for them.

              A bull in rut will be pretty stinky. Besides the glands on their legs, they do a nasty job of pissing all over their bellies. Ugh! I never took any throw away gloves with me but sure wished I'd had them dressing out that first big bull. He was a stinking mess. Had to burn a nice pair of buckskins in the grizzly fire. Outside of the tenderloins, there's not much inside an animal that's being dressed out that won't get trimmed away after the carcass has cured. So don't get wildly excited about contamination. I never bothered removing the glands from either bulls or cows shot later in the year. It's noticeable (often just barely) but easy to avoid touching. After a day or two it seems to dry up anyway.

              You will have no trouble discerning elk from cattle tracks. Cattle tracks are almost round while elk are much more pointed. It can take a bit more skill sometimes to tell the difference between elk and moose tracks (even I have been fooled) and I believe you are in moose country. Keep an eye out for hair when you're on the track. That's the best way to tell for sure. Moose hair is almost black and usually much longer. Also, moose are not sociable. They're primarily solitary creatures. If you're following a big old lone track, keep a weather eye out for hair when it crosses windfalls.

              As you know I always hunted with 30-06. It served me well for the kind of hunting I did. A fair amount of punch, recoil isn't bad, and gun was not real heavy. And it didn't mess up the carcass either. That's important to me. Seems to be a lot less important to others these days.

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              • #8
                I've switched to the gutless method on all the western game I hunt. There are countless youtube videos that show how its done. I have hunted elk with .30-06 and .300wm, prefer the .300.

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                • #9
                  I have seen the end results of many "gutless method" procedures and not been impressed. Doubt many butchers would be either. It's hard enough to keep the hair, dirt, needles, etc. out of an animal when simply gutting or quartering it. Boning it out in the field provides much more opportunity for it to get much more dirtier, especially if there isn't heavy snow cover on the ground. I quartered mine, usually with hide on, or brought them out whole. The butchers were ALWAYS glad to see my meat. I remember one making me wait while he called a doctor and his kid to come down. Their moose meat was hanging in the locker and it was a disgusting filthy mess. He wanted them to see how "it's supposed to be done." I should add that this was my FIRST elk.

                  There was a basin that I would look over into on a regular basis. And almost every time I'd see elk in there. But getting one out of that spot would have been a challenge even for the "gutless method." If I couldn't drag an elk to the road or get it with horses, I wouldn't even think about shooting it.

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                  • #10
                    well these wise gentlemen have covered all of my knowing on the subject but one thing that I did not see that I thought I would share, bull droppings will normaly be in a single pile while a cow will be spread out along as if dropped while walking. The next thing is that a cow elk dropping will be pointed on both ends, while a bull elk will will be pointed on one end while having a dimple in the other end. If the droppings are fresh them they will be shinny and will be able to spread with slight pressure, if picked up they will leave a stain on your finger. Hope it helps

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                    • #11
                      In all mah travels, Ah have found that there is no substitute for learning from the best.

                      Hunting is dirrerent in different geographical locations.

                      Go with an outfitter the first time.

                      Take your GPS.

                      Altitude is important with Elk.

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                      • #12
                        Not "dirrerent", butt "different."

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                        • #13
                          From personally witnessing several one shot kills on bull elk, I can asssure you the .270 WSM will get the job done with the right bullet. A TTSX comes to mind. I have seen the results of a proper hit from a couple of .270 WSM shooters and all resulted in a dead elk. I like the 7mm magnums better, but that's just me. Historically, bullet selection was better for .284 than .277 but perhaps not anymore.

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                          • #14
                            I could never tell one turd from another and I have personally witnessed cow elk taking a dump while standing in the same spot. Many times.

                            A check of the beds in snow will almost always tell you the sex of an elk. For whatever reason elk will invariably piss while laying in their beds. I don't see moose doing this (don't recall ever really looking for it in deer beds). A bull elk will piss under his belly (obviously) and a cow's piss spot will be at the butt end of the bed. You can even determine the sex of a calf using this method. Cows sometimes appear to be in estrus well after the snow falls towards end of the season. They will leave bright orange, almost red, patches in the snow in their tracks as they are moving. You might think it's an animal that's been hit. Pick up a bit of the stuff and sniff it. You will be able to tell right away it's not blood! All I can remember is it's an interesting odor, but not real offensive like what comes out of the glands on their legs. Also this stuff falls in the middle of their tracks not on one side or the other where the leg glands are located.

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                            • #15
                              My experience with elk was not the best. When we showed up in camp In British Columbia I had a 7MM Mag. and the old outfitter who had been in the business for over 50 years looked at me and frowned and asked me why I didn't have a 300 Mag. Then he pointed to the shed where the horse tack was kept and the new tin roof was opened up like you had used a can opener by a grizzly to get to the horse feed. This was only for starters. The next day on our way up the canyon to another spike camp we spotted an elk. My buddy had the first shot. He shot and killed the elk.. After gutting and quartering the elk we tried to get the meat and rack onto the horses but we had failed to notice the two grizzlies that came out of the brush at a rapid rate and the horses dumped the meat and bolted. The guide we had did have his firearm and fired several times in the dirt in front of the bears and yelled for us to get on them if them got any closer. I guess the bears decided it was getting too hot for them there and retreated. We finally rounded up the horsed and got our meat loaded on very jumpy horses and made our way up the canyon. Two days later when we came back down the canyon and reached the point where we had the bear encounter my buddy's horse must have smelled the bear and bolted into a tree and tore the ligaments on his knee. He had to have knee surgery when we returned home. Needless to say when the bears showed themselves I too wished I had a 300 Mag in my hands rather than my 7MM Mag., and I might have even felt better with a .338.

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