Hunting Washington Forum

Big Game Hunting => Elk Hunting => Topic started by: DuckandDeerHunter on November 09, 2019, 01:49:50 PM

Title: Forks archery Elk trip and questions for next year
Post by: DuckandDeerHunter on November 09, 2019, 01:49:50 PM
Hello everyone, relatively new to the forum here. I've read a fair amount of posts here and it seemed like a good site with lots of good people so I thought this would be a good place for me to post about my elk trip to forks this year and ask for some advice for next season. (Yes it's only November and I'm already thinking about next year (:

This was my first year doing archery for elk. I've elk hunted for a few years now and shot several cows with a rifle but wanted to take on the challenge of finding a bull with a bow. I had a cow tag last year near forks and was fortunate enough to fill my tag. Last year was my first year hunting around forks and I really admired the ground. Very steep, thick, and wet for sure, but something about hunting the rain forest (particularly old growth) really peaks my interest. The thought of chasing rosies in September really excited me so I practiced alot on the bugle and spent alot of time practicing with my bow to try and prepare myself for this season. I made a trip out there and hunted for the last 6 days of bow season this year and came up empty handed. I hiked alot and hunted quite a bit of different ground. I hunted old growth ridges, reprod., clearcuts, all sorts of elevation, etc. In those 6 days, I had 4 encounters with elk, which one I could confirm was a bull, but was never presented a shot opportunity. The other encounters, I only saw cows. I was really hoping in 6 days out there and hunting pretty much dawn to dusk every day that I'd at least get a bugle back or see some sort of rutting but I never had that. What was everyone else's experience with the rut this year? I heard alot of people say it really was never going very strong during bow season which is what I experienced but I was curious how it went for others. Although I got tag soup this year, I really enjoyed my time out there and want to learn more to hopefully be successful next year!

I am hoping to spend the last week or so of bow season out there again next year and I have done fairly extensive research, map scouting, and put miles on the boots this year to get more familiar with the area and hopefully notch my tag. From my experience this year, it seemed like there was more pressure and the elk were alot harder to locate and track in the lowlands. I am not opposed to hunting clearcuts and lowland reprod., but after spending a little bit of time up an old growth ridge this year, and seeing quite a few pictures of people getting nice bulls in old growth near the park, this type of ground really appeals to me and I would love to spend some more time in areas like this. After some research, I have read multiple posts saying that alot of the nicer bulls in the area are up a bit higher in the old growth right along the park boundary and it seems like the people that get nice bulls year in year out are hunting ground similar to this. I have read some people saying that river and creek valleys between ridges are great and that bulls will hangout there. I have heard others say working a ridge near or right along the park boundary is a great method to finding those park bulls. Does this change from archery to rifle season? I'm not sure if I should be focusing my time for bow season in the valleys or ridges, or if they are both good bets in September. I consider myself in good enough condition to put in the time and hike in a few miles to get to where the elk are even in some steep, rugged country. I'm not gonna limit myself to sticking in any one unit; I'm willing to travel to different gmu's out there and try different areas to hopefully find where I can get into them. It looks like most people talk about gmu's 607, 615, 618, and 638 for units that border the park. I've heard people talk of some general areas like around the queets or sams river or rugged ridge but wasn't sure where I should be looking specifically and was looking for some other new areas that have elk as well. If anyone has experience with this area and would be willing to share some advice or even some location(s) by chance for how to hunt and get into these old growth timber/park bulls, this would be GREATLY appreciated! Hope everyone is having a great season!
Title: Re: Forks archery Elk trip and questions for next year
Post by: JimmyHoffa on November 09, 2019, 02:51:41 PM
Pressure seemed to be higher than normal.  Guys were out a week before opening, out bugling and chasing around in preparation for the season.  Many of the guys I talked to said it was quiet and tough to find animals.
Title: Re: Forks archery Elk trip and questions for next year
Post by: 444Marlin on December 10, 2019, 01:45:35 PM
Just make sure if you work the boundary of the park you give you and the elk plenty of room.  I would hate to think of someone hitting an elk on the right side of the line, and then have the wounded elk cross over into the park to die.

In that part of the planet, elk could as easily be on a ridge or in a valley.  Unlike the rest of the elk world, they are not as tied to water sources.  So you need to look more for food and cover.  In the real steep country, it's easy to find their game trails as they roto-till trails up and down the hill sides.  And it's easy to tell when it's fresh.  If you see fresh sign, hang out in that area.

Calling elk is becoming more popular and folks are getting more aggressive with it.  I think a savvy hunter would somehow use that in their strategy....I'm not that savvy, so I haven't thought of how to use it to my advantage yet.
Title: Re: Forks archery Elk trip and questions for next year
Post by: STIKNSTRINGBOW on December 11, 2019, 12:10:45 AM
Not familiar with that particular area, but in my experience elk might like to travel through old growth, but seldom spend much time in it.
Even though they evolved and historically lived in it, the real numbers lived high in the park above treeline during most of there life.
Clearcuts actually provided more forage and numbers increased.
Food, water, security cover.
The reason people get mature elk near the border of the park is because elk don't have maps.
I love old growth myself.
There is majesty in the big trees.
But not much food unless you are near an opening in the canopy.
In the areas I hunt, and have hunted where there is old growth I look for edges.
Or something different.
Look at satellite pictures and see what interrupts that sea of green.
Hike in and see what it is.
Look for main trails, as elk often travel single file when going through thicker areas that are not feeding/bedding areas.
When the trail starts to branch out, and you have to pick which one to follow, you are in a feeding, or bedding area.
Slow down, sit down, just wait...
Chances are some guys going to come through there blowing on a bugle, squeezing on a hootchy mama.
Or a herd of elk...
Title: Re: Forks archery Elk trip and questions for next year
Post by: 444Marlin on December 11, 2019, 04:21:36 PM
x2 that the old growth doesn't hold as much elk as where there has been logging.

But, I have found areas that had natural disturbances in old growth that tended to hold elk:
-big washouts and river flood plains
-big windstorm/blowdowns...can be a pain to walk through, but if you find good gametrails to the area you can do a good still hunt.
-natural meadows
Title: Re: Forks archery Elk trip and questions for next year
Post by: DuckandDeerHunter on January 03, 2020, 09:35:07 PM
Thanks all for your help! Getting so excited for next season already!