All Day Hunting - See more Elk
by Ben Baggett
This year's Elk hunt for cows ended with more lessons learned and more learning confirmed from years' past. I was blessed enough to see Elk everyday and nearly closed the gap on a small herd of 14 but my plan to cut them off coming down a draw was short by 40 yards. They crossed the draw just above me, this Elk Hunting. The lesson there is that it never hurts to charge in after a herd once they start to move but just make sure you know where you will intersect to head them off or missing by a little can be the same as missing big, but don't be afraid to make noise and run to close the gap. That is lesson number one for 2017, lesson two is a lesson relearned year after year, more time hunting means seeing and getting closer to more Elk.
As for lesson two, I have come to notice that perhaps the biggest and most important tip that comes from this lesson and to successful Elk hunting I have found through the years, gets much less attention than it deserves. The big tip and lesson relearned each year, as boring as it may be, is that my success as a hunter to take Elk by getting closer and first seeing more Elk comes down to the amount of time I am in the field hunting and scouting Elk than anything else. It beats out wearing the proper camo, finding fresh elk sign, wearing scent/no scent, optics, and any other tips I have come across and tried.
A little story to get more to the point: When I started Elk hunting in 2011, we would do a morning hunt and come back to camp for a couple hour lunch then go on an evening hunt. We did that for two years and saw few or no Elk, but plenty of Elk sign. In 2013, we decided to stay out all day, pack our lunch with us and see what happens. It was that year, we began to see more Elk and have more opportunities to get close to Elk. Getting close to Elk and taking Elk is a different topic, but seeing Elk comes down to time spent hunting and scouting.
So why is it not in our conversations and practices about Elk hunting? Maybe it is because staying out in the field all day with uninterrupted focus on your quarry with all senses working overtime is hard for most hunters. It takes grit, focus, determination, warm clothing, a heavier pack with food and water, and more staying power to fend off such enemies as boredom, fatigue, cold, defeat, loneliness, and unfamiliar environments; all big challenges to overcome.
I juggle a full time job, family, two young kids so my time hunting is limited but when I do get out for the one week a year to hunt Elk, I now spend my days from sunup to sundown doing just what I set out to do – hunt Elk. In six years of hunting I have taken two Elk, one on public land the other private, but have seen hundreds, all of which came after our party made the bold decision to stay in the field all day…Good luck, happy Hunting, hope this helps you too to see a lot of Elk. I have found that through practice, it gets easier to stay out there with the Elk and will become second nature. Like the old line, you cannot take an Elk if you cannot see an Elk. This year I stayed in the field and saw Elk everyday and have seen Elk every year since we changed to hunting all day, it has worked again, lesson confirmed.