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Author Topic: Scouting Tips  (Read 1424 times)

Offline TechSupportHunter

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Scouting Tips
« on: April 28, 2017, 07:16:14 AM »
Good morning guys. I have been hunting here in Washington my entire life, about 28 years. Some success killing deer, but never had a shot at a legal elk.

2 years ago I switched to archery and was on a successful hunt with my cousin. Since then I have gotten close to elk; ~80 yards but not comfortable enough to shoot, multiple times. Going into my 3rd year archery hunting I want to work harder to hopefully make it a successful one.

My buddies and I will be going out into the Elk woods to escape the monotony of the city. So my question is, is it too early to be scouting the critters? I assume they are more than likely still in their wintering habitat, but if I were to be looking for rubs, tracks, etc from the past year would these be indicators of where they could likely be come September?

Thanks for all the good info always available here!

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Re: Scouting Tips
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2017, 07:26:14 AM »
Well to tell you the truth the Elk we hunt you cant even get into those areas until july do to the snow drifts. And that's if the trails aren't  all blown out or how many trees I have to cut out to get up to there. All my camps are above 5000' though. No roads mean less people and more Elk ! Good luck on all your hunting adventures !!!
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Offline cougforester

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Re: Scouting Tips
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2017, 07:33:50 AM »
Depends on where you're hunting. Rubs and scrapes would be a good place to start. Tracks might be misleading this time of year. Finding sheds is fun, but not too useful for elk to determine where they are during hunting season. As things dry out, you can begin to try to find wallows or other areas that might concentrate activity. Find some stream crossings and follow tracks and see where a bunch congregate. Even just following a game trail off a road for a ways can give you insight for where animals are traveling.

Offline TechSupportHunter

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Re: Scouting Tips
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2017, 07:41:09 AM »
Awesome. Thanks guys. I am hunting around Mt. St. Helens usually 4200' and below. Figured if we are camping in the area might as well start looking for critters.

Offline Jpmiller

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Re: Scouting Tips
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2017, 11:53:04 AM »
I have elk hunted the same area my whole life so I have a fairly good idea of what they are trying to do and where they like to hide. I like to focus most of my scouting on learning the actual areas, finding new ambush spots, looking for a good glassing spot, seeing where the springs run this year, etc. I'm up pretty high in the Cascades so most of the elk are lower until fall anyways but being familiar with terrain and knowing good routes from place to place is just as important to scout as the animals in my opinion.

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Re: Scouting Tips
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2017, 01:25:05 PM »
Good points JP.

Thank you!

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Re: Scouting Tips
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2017, 01:31:59 PM »
Good info here already. I'll add that my most important scouting occurs in the days prior to opening day. Whereas its important to know your hunting area and elk habits in that area. Its equally important to know where the elk are or are going to be when you head out to hunt. I will sacrifice days on the end of my hunt to gather proper intel right before my hunt begins.
Fish hard, hunt harder!

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Re: Scouting Tips
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2017, 10:56:47 PM »
Im not able to hike much anymore due to health problems so spending a bunch of time using google earth has been really handy for finding and planning my trips to the elk woods. I can only go so far and it usually takes me forever to do it so this has been a real help in finding the best ways to get somewhere and the paths that are going to be OK for someone like me to take for an effective hunt. Also, I don't want to end up the subject of a S&R team lol.

Once you map some stuff out you can DL the map and load it on a device so that you can use it off line as well. Then add notes to it for sign etc.

Any reason for getting out in the woods is a good enough reason IMO.


Offline Skyvalhunter

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Re: Scouting Tips
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2017, 05:07:53 AM »
 :chuckle:

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Re: Scouting Tips
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2017, 10:24:03 AM »
I have elk hunted the same area my whole life so I have a fairly good idea of what they are trying to do and where they like to hide. I like to focus most of my scouting on learning the actual areas, finding new ambush spots, looking for a good glassing spot, seeing where the springs run this year, etc. I'm up pretty high in the Cascades so most of the elk are lower until fall anyways but being familiar with terrain and knowing good routes from place to place is just as important to scout as the animals in my opinion.
:yeah:

Also, https://earth.google.com/web/

Offline WapitiTalk1

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Re: Scouting Tips
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2017, 12:07:40 PM »
TSH, in the “for what it’s worth” here’s a couple of comments from my perspective:
1. Anytime you can visit the place you plan on hunting later in the year (Elktember) is good if for nothing else than to refine your knowledge of the lay of the land. 
2.  To confirm where the bulls will be come September, its best to visit the general area starting around the end of July through mid/late August and find the cows!  Remember, the rut is all about the ladies and where you find the cows during the last part of summer that’s where the bulls will gravitate to once their testosterone levels start to rise and they leave the confines of their bachelor groups.
3.  While scouting in the summer, don’t pay a ton of attention to the rubs you find to locate “fall” bulls.  Most rubs seen in the elk woods are velvet rubs and are made well in advance of September.  Likewise for wallows but located wallows have a bit more relevance.  Wallow use dramatically decreases after the end of August/first week of September, but, even though the elk may not be hitting the wallows, they probably were a few weeks prior to archery season starting and there’s a good chance they may still be in that general area. 
4.  Well used elk trails, feeding areas, and bedding areas are gold chips when you can find them and put the elk patterns together.  Remember, elk have a few basic needs that you can capitalize on.  Survival (food/water), Security (travel and escape routes; bedding areas where they can smell danger/predators from below during beddy bye times, and, hear danger from above…this is why elk oftentimes bed 2/3 to 3/4 the way up on a hillside), and the need to pro-create (obviously referring to the fall elk rut).
5.  Game cams put out mid-late summer are your friends.  Some cams coupled with or without  some mineral bricks, can provide you some very good info when you finally make it to your elk camp.  I know a lot of hunters put game cams out very early in the year and the pics they get are cool, but, do little for you unless they’re snapping the activity that is occurring a few weeks before you start your hunt. 
6.  Embrace the thick!  Elk don’t just bed in dark timber, particularly in areas where there is some pretty good hunting pressure.  You will oftentimes find significant bedding areas in the nastiest, thickest, tallest, alder fields in many of the elk areas.  During your scouting adventures, you may just find some elk trails that lead into said thick areas.. head in and see what you see. 
7. When scouting in August (confirming location of groups of cows, checking game cams, replenishing salt if you put some out earlier, perhaps looking/listening for some early rut activity, etc.)… make sure you approach your trips just like you would when actually hunting.  Work in to the spots using the wind/time of day to your advantage so as to not throw you scent into the snouts of any elk that may be there, get in and out of your spots quickly and attempt to not disturb the area/spot too much, etc.  Make sure you’re in position at the crack of dawn with your optics to see who is visiting feeding areas (oftentimes, certainly before significant hunting pressure moves in, these feeding areas will be clear cuts and/or natural meadows).. Again, observe from a distance and not in a place where your scent will bust them.  Really, there is even no need to move into or close to said feeding areas if you can see em from a distance, right? 
8.  During your scouting missions, make physical notes (small waterproof notebook and pen) and mark the areas of interest you find on both your GPS and a hard copy map.  Once you get back to your ranch, plot your points on big screen mapping software (Caltopo, AcmeMapper, GE, etc., whichever one you prefer)… and oftentimes, you can find some additional points of interest by putting the pieces together.  Best of luck to you mister with your scouting and elk hunt this fall!   
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Re: Scouting Tips
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2017, 02:00:52 PM »
Thank you all again for the good info. I am looking forward to Elktember!

Offline TwoBear

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Re: Scouting Tips
« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2017, 08:13:41 AM »
Spring and summer is also a great time to glass elk and study their interactions within the herd dynamic, and their vocalizations.  I really enjoy slipping in on a herd and just listening and watching.  You can actually learn a lot about social structure and communication just be being an observer without the pressure of having to interact with them.

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Re: Scouting Tips
« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2017, 03:59:57 PM »
Spring and summer is also a great time to glass elk and study their interactions within the herd dynamic, and their vocalizations.  I really enjoy slipping in on a herd and just listening and watching.  You can actually learn a lot about social structure and communication just be being an observer without the pressure of having to interact with them.
+1 for this.  Just make sure your stealth game is up to snuff.  I, like most I'm sure, have LOTS of time observing slightly-to-very spooked elk ;).

Offline Jpmiller

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Re: Scouting Tips
« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2017, 04:34:01 PM »
I've never spooked them on purpose but in my experience elk I've spooked in summer go to the same places as elk I've spooked in fall.

So spooking (or slightly spooking) elk isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Offline Whobuff

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Re: Scouting Tips
« Reply #15 on: June 21, 2017, 11:59:21 AM »
TSH, in the “for what it’s worth” here’s a couple of comments from my perspective:
1. Anytime you can visit the place you plan on hunting later in the year (Elktember) is good if for nothing else than to refine your knowledge of the lay of the land. 
2.  To confirm where the bulls will be come September, its best to visit the general area starting around the end of July through mid/late August and find the cows!  Remember, the rut is all about the ladies and where you find the cows during the last part of summer that’s where the bulls will gravitate to once their testosterone levels start to rise and they leave the confines of their bachelor groups.
3.  While scouting in the summer, don’t pay a ton of attention to the rubs you find to locate “fall” bulls.  Most rubs seen in the elk woods are velvet rubs and are made well in advance of September.  Likewise for wallows but located wallows have a bit more relevance.  Wallow use dramatically decreases after the end of August/first week of September, but, even though the elk may not be hitting the wallows, they probably were a few weeks prior to archery season starting and there’s a good chance they may still be in that general area. 
4.  Well used elk trails, feeding areas, and bedding areas are gold chips when you can find them and put the elk patterns together.  Remember, elk have a few basic needs that you can capitalize on.  Survival (food/water), Security (travel and escape routes; bedding areas where they can smell danger/predators from below during beddy bye times, and, hear danger from above…this is why elk oftentimes bed 2/3 to 3/4 the way up on a hillside), and the need to pro-create (obviously referring to the fall elk rut).
5.  Game cams put out mid-late summer are your friends.  Some cams coupled with or without  some mineral bricks, can provide you some very good info when you finally make it to your elk camp.  I know a lot of hunters put game cams out very early in the year and the pics they get are cool, but, do little for you unless they’re snapping the activity that is occurring a few weeks before you start your hunt. 
6.  Embrace the thick!  Elk don’t just bed in dark timber, particularly in areas where there is some pretty good hunting pressure.  You will oftentimes find significant bedding areas in the nastiest, thickest, tallest, alder fields in many of the elk areas.  During your scouting adventures, you may just find some elk trails that lead into said thick areas.. head in and see what you see. 
7. When scouting in August (confirming location of groups of cows, checking game cams, replenishing salt if you put some out earlier, perhaps looking/listening for some early rut activity, etc.)… make sure you approach your trips just like you would when actually hunting.  Work in to the spots using the wind/time of day to your advantage so as to not throw you scent into the snouts of any elk that may be there, get in and out of your spots quickly and attempt to not disturb the area/spot too much, etc.  Make sure you’re in position at the crack of dawn with your optics to see who is visiting feeding areas (oftentimes, certainly before significant hunting pressure moves in, these feeding areas will be clear cuts and/or natural meadows).. Again, observe from a distance and not in a place where your scent will bust them.  Really, there is even no need to move into or close to said feeding areas if you can see em from a distance, right? 
8.  During your scouting missions, make physical notes (small waterproof notebook and pen) and mark the areas of interest you find on both your GPS and a hard copy map.  Once you get back to your ranch, plot your points on big screen mapping software (Caltopo, AcmeMapper, GE, etc., whichever one you prefer)… and oftentimes, you can find some additional points of interest by putting the pieces together.  Best of luck to you mister with your scouting and elk hunt this fall!
:yeah:
Thanks for the tips!!!!

 

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