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Author Topic: 2017 Elk behavior  (Read 2004 times)

Offline Stalkin Prey

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2017 Elk behavior
« on: September 12, 2017, 03:36:59 PM »
Well, just got home from 4 days of hiking my tail off and I didn't see 1 four legged critter. I put a lot of miles on my boots in the Lewis river unit and got into some nice areas I was almost positive would produce something, played the wind the best I could (really swirly in areas) they still eluded me. In areas before shooting light and out after dark. No bugles or cow/calf calls other then my own and another hunter I called in. Talked to a bunch of other guys hunting the unit and sounds like everyone said the same. Where did they all go? I hunted high up the mtn, middle of the mtn and lower. I tried to glass in the late mornings and early afternoons but glassing on the wet side is challenging. Did the cows have there calving ground lower? Did they just pack up and move out? I have no clue but I'm back home to come up with a new plan and see if I can get something figured out. I have a few more days to find a new area and hopefully fill my tag. Good luck everyone. I'll post a few pics I took. Baffled that I didn't see anything at all.


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Offline npaull

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2017, 03:38:52 PM »
I think the heat and sun have been tanking ungulate activity in W Washington for most of the season thus far... There's really been like half of one good day of hunting, at least out where I am... I got lucky on a deer this morning but really haven't been seeing a ton of action. We need some cold and rain!

Offline Stalkin Prey

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2017, 03:42:35 PM »
The heat really affected my mule deer hunt last week as well. Mid 90's to 100's on the east side. If I don't get something figured out it looks like tag soup.


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Offline Mfowl

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2017, 03:51:59 PM »
I had similar experiences in the 340 gmu this past weekend. We were on a small herd with a nice bull that we had scouted prior to opening day. On opening day hunters converged from everywhere and ran that herd into the timber before LST even started. Haven't seen hide nor hair since. The elk are not talking and seem almost completely nocturnal. I'll be back out fom Weds-Sun hunting on my bull tag again. Likely gonna have to change up locations completely since the sign and the animals just don't seem to be there.
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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2017, 03:55:06 PM »
Same thing out here in 340. Heard the same from a few guys in 336,342, and teanaway. Has been hot and smokey . No bugles or cow chatter . Not even much fresh sign. Wallows don't seem to being hit but have seen a few fresh rubs. Good luck everyone .

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2017, 04:00:35 PM »
I think the muzzy guys hit more of the rut then the archery guys do...I went for a hike up on quartz mountain on Sunday and it was pretty darn quiet. Weather has a lot to do with the elk behavior.

Offline Stalkin Prey

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2017, 04:09:03 PM »
From everything I was seeing and not hearing I made the call to try and find a new unit. Completely nocturnal sounds right. I was out before light and after dark. Tried sitting up on a ridge after dark to hopefully hear a sound. Nothing. I thought I was on em for sure with the sign I saw. Time to start over.


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Offline carpsniperg2

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2017, 04:09:35 PM »
I just spent 3 days in the west side and was out in the woods a bunch. Had zero response and saw 0 elk. Think the heat and smoke and pressure from closures moving other hunters in has a lot to do with it.
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Offline floatinghat

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2017, 05:00:59 PM »
I think the muzzy guys hit more of the rut then the archery guys do...I went for a hike up on quartz mountain on Sunday and it was pretty darn quiet. Weather has a lot to do with the elk behavior.

Without question in typical years the Archery guys get more of the rut.  I spoke with Jason Phelps about this at a seminar regarding SW WA and he said in his years of muzzy he only heard a handfull of bugles.  They are much more vocal during Archery.   I think they are just aren't as vocal this year, it could be they are bunched up and don't need to talk?

Offline Little Fish

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2017, 05:06:54 PM »
Did you do any calling? My preferred method to hunt the early season is to have the elk tell me where they are. I will say that lots of pressure/trucks driving around/people calling tends to shut the elk up.

Offline Stalkin Prey

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2017, 05:34:58 PM »
I called and tried everything I had in my bag. Called from ridges, different call sequences, estrous meow, called in another hunter (obvious cause it's all that responded, and he came down to me), raked trees, wind in my face, out before light back to the truck after dark. Couldn't find anyone to play with.


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Offline G-S

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2017, 05:44:53 PM »
Went out on Saturday and called in a small 5 and 2 cows they came in silent the bull was trying to push one of the cows around but she just ignored him saw 2 bulls Friday night with no cows so it might need to get a little cooler

Offline carpsniperg2

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2017, 05:46:25 PM »
Looks like a good temp drop is coming for hopefully that gets them going good. Might be the peak between archery and muzzle :'(
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Offline LeviD1

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2017, 05:54:14 PM »
I have heard 1 tiny feint bugle. I am for sure going to Idaho next year and will never buy a wa elk tag again. Hardly any elk in NE wa

Offline Jimmy33

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2017, 06:11:35 PM »
I have been hearing bugles and they have been responding to light cow calling. Had a chance at a 300" 6x6 on Sunday but blew it because i didn't set up very well. Had him at 20 yards. He came in really hot. The guy calling for me said it was odd he came in so hot...he didn't have any cows...there was one other bugle heard 5 minutes prior


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Offline Stalkin Prey

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #15 on: September 12, 2017, 06:13:45 PM »
I have been hearing bugles and they have been responding to light cow calling. Had a chance at a 300" 6x6 on Sunday but blew it because i didn't set up very well. Had him at 20 yards. He came in really hot. The guy calling for me said it was odd he came in so hot...he didn't have any cows...there was one other bugle heard 5 minutes prior


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Are you hunting the east side or west?


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Offline zwickeyman

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #16 on: September 12, 2017, 07:04:01 PM »
Called in 2 bulls this weekend. The first, Saturday night right at dark and came in silent on a run to bugles only. Got caught like a rookie with " my pants down "
The second was at 7:30 am Sunday. Came in silent to cow calls only and swung down wind and winded me just of range.
Never heard an Elk make a sound all weekend

Offline Jimmy33

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #17 on: September 12, 2017, 07:20:03 PM »
I have been hearing bugles and they have been responding to light cow calling. Had a chance at a 300" 6x6 on Sunday but blew it because i didn't set up very well. Had him at 20 yards. He came in really hot. The guy calling for me said it was odd he came in so hot...he didn't have any cows...there was one other bugle heard 5 minutes prior


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Are you hunting the east side or west?


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East side


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He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—
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Offline Stalkin Prey

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #18 on: September 12, 2017, 07:40:30 PM »
Looks like we have some cooler weather coming in, hopefully that really kicks things off.


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Offline summertime blues

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #19 on: September 12, 2017, 08:14:12 PM »
Busted elk Monday morning bedded down that got wind.  Didn't see em just heard em getting outta dodge. This morning went back to the same spot with the wind right and small bull jumped up about 20 yards. No shot. Stopped him about 50 yards with a cow call but I was right out in the open like a dummy so he was gone. Saw LOTS of fresh sign in the places I went.

Super quiet except my feet tripping over everything which was deafening

Offline Vandal44

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #20 on: September 12, 2017, 08:22:28 PM »
I went last weekend heard one bugle in the morning after I cow called and then nothing the rest of the day and Sunday was not good.  I will be off hunting all next week from the 16th to 24th it should be cooler and I am hoping the rut starts picking up.

Best of luck to everyone

Offline predatorG

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #21 on: September 13, 2017, 06:21:28 AM »
Busted elk Monday morning bedded down that got wind.  Didn't see em just heard em getting outta dodge. This morning went back to the same spot with the wind right and small bull jumped up about 20 yards. No shot. Stopped him about 50 yards with a cow call but I was right out in the open like a dummy so he was gone. Saw LOTS of fresh sign in the places I went.

Super quiet except my feet tripping over everything which was deafening

Personally I don't mind making noise. Elk make noise and I'm trying to be an elk, so I think for the most part sneaking around like a predator makes them suspicious. When they get suspicious then they circle and wind. That being said everyone seems to be saying that the elk are coming in like ninjas, so maybe that rule doesn't apply this year.  :dunno:
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Offline elkboy

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #22 on: September 13, 2017, 06:50:24 AM »
We hiked, glassed, called. Elk were very quiet, and were locked down in timber for all daylight hours. Heard only two bugling bulls, one Saturday morning and one Saturday evening. Hunted high elevation east side.

Offline Fullabull

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #23 on: September 13, 2017, 07:23:26 AM »
I have always hunted the Lewis River unit on St. Helens and have always got responses to calling. Last year after the first Muzzy season I could not get one response in the two weeks I was there. I probably put in average 8 miles a day and not one elk sound. Was pretty disappointing. Muzzy does get a good part of the late rut. I hunted Colorado for 5 years in the first two weeks of October and always had not problem getting bulls to respond. Headed to Idaho this year because of the lack of response where I hunter last year.

Offline kellama2001

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #24 on: September 13, 2017, 07:37:21 AM »
I saw a herd of elk near the Vernita rest area yesterday. A decent branch bull, a spike and about 20 cow/calves. They were headed south to the burned area. I was surprised to see them so low with all the heat we've had. I'm hoping this cooler weather gets things going, highs in the upper 60s next week in our area!
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Offline Bigapplediams73

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #25 on: September 13, 2017, 11:47:59 AM »
The 1s I have seen have been low close to highway. I park off the side of the road and hike in a bit. Only on Saturday and Sunday tho. Wet is good. Went back yesterday and nothing. Same spot just real hot. Let's pray for rain. Didn't respond to bull calls. Responded good to lost calf and spike squeals.

Offline Stalkin Prey

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #26 on: September 13, 2017, 01:08:07 PM »
Looks like the weather is gonna shift in our favor next week.


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Offline Kokanee

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #27 on: September 13, 2017, 04:59:19 PM »
I sure hope the weather changes quickly.  Hot, dry, and quiet.  Zero sign, not even fresh poop!  The fires and closures are putting a lot of pressure in areas not used to as much two legged activity which is pushing the critters off into the corners that either can't be gotten to, or require back country camps.  Had a blast, so a ton of awesome country, don't get me wrong, but at least a tease with a bugle here and there to keep the blood pumping!?

Offline elkboy

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #28 on: September 13, 2017, 05:10:14 PM »
I sure hope the weather changes quickly.  Hot, dry, and quiet.  Zero sign, not even fresh poop!  The fires and closures are putting a lot of pressure in areas not used to as much two legged activity which is pushing the critters off into the corners that either can't be gotten to, or require back country camps.  Had a blast, so a ton of awesome country, don't get me wrong, but at least a tease with a bugle here and there to keep the blood pumping!?

 :yeah:  100% agree!

Offline Jimmy33

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #29 on: September 13, 2017, 09:50:00 PM »
Saw three rag horns looking for cows tonight...


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Offline Stalkin Prey

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #30 on: September 13, 2017, 10:05:39 PM »
Nice to hear things might be kicking off.


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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #31 on: September 13, 2017, 10:09:24 PM »
Sitting in camp now hoping to hear a few vocal bulls. Let's hope temp has definitely dropped in the last 24 hrs along with barometer.

Offline SureThing

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Re: 2017 Elk behavior
« Reply #32 on: September 14, 2017, 12:06:12 AM »
I hunted the Yakima herd in open cow/spike units and bulls were bugling and chasing cows. Most had cows with them. I called in one bull that came running after he was flopping around in a wallow. He didn't bugle but gave a two short grunt like steals. I think they do this when they are rounding up the girls. I broke a couple twigs in response and he trotted right in. He was just a young 5 or 6 point bull. I found elk every time I set foot in the woods and was surprised the locker was already full of animals when I took mine in on Monday morning. I found my animals close to water and dark timber adjacent to feeding areas. The morning I shot mine I snuck into a herd and had them bead down around me at 8:30 am. I was hoping to have one walk past me but instead had to put the Indian on them and shot one out of bed. As far as it being dry that has never bothered me. I use it to my advantage. If I'm out searching for animals I will typically periodically cow call glass and move forward then cow call again. I have found when I'm moving it will provoke single elk to jump out of bed to try and catch up with me. When I call I always make sure I'm ready to shoot and have some kind of cover behind me to break up my outline. If I'm not seeing much sign I'm running and gunning much faster till I find good sign. Once I find what I'm looking for I change my walking pattern to match the cadence of a 2-3 elk feeding along. You will find by doing this elk will let you walk right into the herd. I think they are very confident that they have good security. If I get busted I typically will give a bugle and few excited cow calls this tends to calm the rest of the herd or at least confuse them. The one or two that made me might run off a little ways but the majority of the herd will stay put. Let them relax a little and sneak in a different direction. Cooler weather definitely helps and they stay more active through the morning and afternoon. If you are not seeing sign or hearing any activity move. Don't hunt the same area hoping they are going to move into "your" area. Go explore something new. Good luck!!!

 

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