by Scott

Hello everyone,
I'm going hunting with my dad this year north of Rifle, CO and he's been elk hunting 6 times and yet to shoot an elk. I'm trying to gain as much knowledge about the elk bedding tendencies. I've heard the ole saying, "The best way to learn elk, is to hunt them!" With that said, my father is getting up there in age and doesn't have that many trips left in him. I've heard the terms like "north & east facing slopes" and "benches". I'm pretty sure I understand north & east facing slopes, but could you explain a little more about benches? I've read a lot of magazines and they all mention benches and that elk typically bed 1/3 the way down a slope.

Any information would be greatly appreciated!!

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Aug 20, 2021
How big to slopes have to be both day and night
by: Hunter Kindvall

Hi guys, im going elk Hunting in october the last half of the month in south dakota. im 14 years old and this is my second year in a row that im going elk hunting both times i drew a tag didnt buy it unless you count buying as in you apply and it costs a couple hundred yes i drew a tag 2 year in a row. but anyway its a cow elk tag and tyhis year im using mapping aka on x maps and so im e scouting and i hear everything about north facing slopes and south and benches but i was wondering how tall do slopes have to be for elk to bed on them from the very bootom of a hill to the top or from where the two slopes of a draw meet to the top how many feet do they have to be for them to bed on them. and benches there is a couple of spots where its a steep slope and the its flat in a little area and then its back to bing a slope almost like a cliff but it has grass on the bench if it is one and its a slope and not straight down. would that be considered a bench its basically a meadow on a slope. and then also do elk preffer very open sloes for day or night or do the preffer burnt areas or timber areas where e scouting you cannot see the hills ground because its so thick or what do you want?
you can email me at or you can follow and text my instagram at cadakoutdoors or also you can reply to this comment.

Aug 01, 2014
by: Anonymous

A bench would be a flat spot on steep terrain where they like to bed.

Oct 30, 2012
by: Anonymous

There are hunters and then there are ELK hunters. Every area is different. I use to hunt near Rifle in the white river national forest (Eagle). The benches in these mountains are in the hardest, steepest slopes imaginable. We call them hell holes, others call them hidey holes. Most benches (holding elk) are far from any road. The ones who spend their time to trek there, are the one's usually successful, but the work to get them out is not easy.

Don't hunt the actual bench, hunt the route 200 - 300 yards from the bench on the easiest route to the bench. Best bet is to play the weather. If it snows, then just look for highways and beds in the snow and once you find them, sit off 200 - 300 yards and wait, they will come.

If it is warm, your best bet is to walk, like you never walked before. If you still hunt in warm weather, the elk may never come to the area you are sitting. Zig zag the mountain or send 1 high and 1 low and zig zag torward each other. 1 year, I just got to my area at 1:30pm and decided to head up this trail where I parked (which another vehicle was parked). 50 yards over the 1st hill came 5 walkers, walking back to their vehicle. We said hi and they said it was way too warm, those elk must be 10 miles up the mountain in the fingers. They were heading back to camp for the day.

It just turned 2pm and I walked to where they just came from (note: we were 50 yards from our trucks when we met, just over the little mound of a hill). The next hill was a good 100 yard trek up and I figured I would walk about 1000 yards before I judged the area. I got to the top of my 100 yard hill and crested over the small top and low and behold there were at least 20 cows laying on 10 yards off the path in a patch of snow.

These 5 people never saw them. They just came, after the people crossed the area. I got my cow and I was only 150 yards from the truck and it was like 2:20 pm when I took the shot. I thought for sure I would never see an elk that close, with 5 others that just walked from this area.

Oct 20, 2012
by: Scott

We'll be hunting in unit 33 near coulter lake during the 4th rifle season and any information would be VERY appreciated. We also are meat hunters, but something with horns would be great bonus.

Thanks again for your time,

Oct 14, 2012
Scott n Father
by: Steamshovel

If you are able to get this before your leave Scott contact me and I will give you what info I can about the Rifle area.I've hunted that area and killed 5 in 7 trips there.Now I'm all about hunting and I'm a meat hunter not a trophy hunter.Although my last elk there was a nice respectable 6x6.There is alot of BLM and White River Nat Forest land you can hunt.I will be hunting new territory this year in the Routt Nat Forest so maybe I'll bring home some meat.Thanks,Steamshovel

Sep 12, 2012
Benches Are Good Hunting
by: Dave,

Hi, Scott. Benches can hold elk. They are simply smallish level spots on slants that allow them to comfortably bed and watch the surrounding area. If you find benches that are used regularly, approach downwind, they'll be watching. Glass them from the other side of the drainage, if possible, or approach them from above after noon.

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