The Complete Book of Elk Hunting: Tips and Tactics for All Weather and Habitat Conditions (Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation), 275 pages. ISBN 1-59228-653-4
The Complete Book of Elk Hunting is a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation book. Curtis writes from Bozeman, MT.
It is in depth and thorough, providing detailed information about elk habitat and “micro-habitat”, how the elements and geography affect elk movement and habits, as well as hunting tactics.
The focus of the book is successful trophy bull hunting, so the author ventures away from the herds and goes where many hunters are not willing to trek, where the big bulls go.
Curtis covers methods of hunting elk including still-hunting, spot and stalking, tracking, as well as stand hunting.
Packing elk meat is difficult, but big game retrieval can even be done alone. There are ways to make it easier, even without expensive equipment, horses or help.
A quick tour of the table of contents starts with “Recognizing Habitats”, with the goal of helping the reader learn to predict where the elk might be.
“Understanding Behavior” is the next major section, which includes scouting, tracking, feeding and bedding areas, the rut and post-rut periods, and how cold weather affects elk hunting. This section provides a helpful chapter called “Go Where the Food Is”. It describes elk movement based on optimal food opportunities. The chapter is seven pages long and lists some of the food elk prefer under certain conditions, but no photos or descriptions are provided.
The third section covers “Environmental Factors” like fire, clearcuts, and other animals that influence elk populations. The final major section takes on the topic of “Planning Your Hunt”.
There are useful drawings of elk tracks and droppings, with a good discussion of how to identify sex and interpret actions from those signs. Quite a few black and white photos are used throughout the book. There is an eight page inset section of color photos in the middle of the book that are not specific to any of the book’s content.
Curtis uses “sidebars” throughout the book with interesting tidbits of information, for example, “Elk Hunting and Grizzly Bears” and “Chronic Wasting Disease”.
The organization of the book is good. The author’s writing style is not an exceptionally easy read. It isn’t all that difficult, but requires a little bit of focus to follow the longer sentence structures. Curtis is a little verbose at times, choosing to use colorful wording often, like “escarpment”, “colonized”, “idiosyncrasies”, and other large words in place of simpler ones. I found it harder to read in the same room my family was watching TV, simply because of the higher level of sentence structures chosen.
The Complete Book of Elk Hunting is definitely a worthwhile resource to read. However, if I had limited time for reading elk hunting books, this one might not be my first choice, but I’m glad to have it on my book shelf.
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