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Author Topic: Do backcountry elk hunts exist in Western Washington?  (Read 3436 times)

Offline TRD1911

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Do backcountry elk hunts exist in Western Washington?
« on: November 30, 2020, 11:52:17 PM »
As this season winds down I've set my focus to new challenges for next year. I've only picked up archery elk hunting in the past six years. I've had success on one bull now; taken on my inlaws property near Aberdeen. I'm grateful for the success but let's just call it more of a harvest than a hunt, ha!

For the past 4 years a Marine Corps buddy of mine has been making the trip for high buck and a backcountry experience that he can't get in his home state of Michigan. After some great deer hunts and many lessons learned (for both of us), we've decided that 2021 is the year that we turn our annual hunt into an archery elk pursuit.

So, that leads me to the point of my rambling; does the made-for-tv backcountry elk hunt exist in WA? I've done backcountry bear and deer in western Washington but these were areas that either don't hold elk or a general season doesnt exist. my buddy made an excel spreadsheet on harvest reports for the past two years,  we've researched forums, reading trail reports and even social media in pursuit of narrowing down where our summer scouting trips should be focused next year.

Of course I wouldn't break the cardinal rule of asking for your spot but information and confirmation that such a place exists would be greatly appreciated.

my buddy's checklist on what he envisions-
See elk
at least 4-6 miles in
challenging terrain

(I know I picked the right hunting partner when he didn't list "killing a trophy bull" there).

as of now my summer calender is clear so here's the question. What three units that meet the above criteria would you recommend in W. Washington (west Cascades)? If I don't plug in a scouting plan soon my wife will find more "useful" ways for me to spend the summer, ha!

Offline bobcat

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Re: Do backcountry elk hunts exist in Western Washington?
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2020, 12:21:10 AM »
I won't narrow it down to a specific unit but if it were me I'd be looking at the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Offline MADMAX

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Re: Do backcountry elk hunts exist in Western Washington?
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2020, 04:24:06 AM »
 :yeah:
Keep the wind in your hair, and the sun at your back.


A gun is a tool, Marion, no better or no worse than any other tool, an axe, a shovel or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that.


What would life be without the thrill of the hunt ?

Offline nwwanderer

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Re: Do backcountry elk hunts exist in Western Washington?
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2020, 05:26:21 AM »
And be sure to test and bring extra rain gear

Offline Skyvalhunter

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Re: Do backcountry elk hunts exist in Western Washington?
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2020, 05:28:27 AM »
 :chuckle:

Online trophyhunt

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Re: Do backcountry elk hunts exist in Western Washington?
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2020, 07:19:56 AM »
I bet there is some good backcountry elk hunts in the olympics, If I was a younger man, I'd look there.  In Archery season I'd be more worried about the bugs than the wet weather, some places the mosquitos will run you out of the woods.  Therma cell works pretty well.
“In common with”..... not so much!!

Offline Stein

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Re: Do backcountry elk hunts exist in Western Washington?
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2020, 07:33:15 AM »
The good part of western wa is that in most places, if you go 100 yards off the trail it seems awfully backcountry all of a sudden.

Offline blackveltbowhunter

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Re: Do backcountry elk hunts exist in Western Washington?
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2020, 07:50:35 AM »
Two of your buddies requirement are easy to fill on the westside. It's the first one that's kinda the most important one.

Your summer being free is huge. Plan on a three month elk hunt starting in June. I would start as close to home as possible and expand from there.

Plan that everything will change day one of September. 

 

Offline Sitka_Blacktail

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Re: Do backcountry elk hunts exist in Western Washington?
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2020, 08:13:16 AM »
638 will fit your requirements except you'll probably only be 2-3 miles in. But you will definitely be in back country. And you won't find any tougher terrain to hunt elk in.
A man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears. ~ Michel de Montaigne

Offline kselkhunter

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Re: Do backcountry elk hunts exist in Western Washington?
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2020, 08:38:56 AM »
No, the tv-show-like hunts don't exist because there are for more people in the backcountry because of said tv shows/youtube/podcasts.....   :chuckle:


There are some backcountry hunt areas, and they get heavy hunting traffic (some areas have more guys packed into the backcountry than on the roads).  That being said, the elk are still in there.  They are just heavily pressured and behave a bit differently.....once you get their patterns figured out it's still a fun time.   So go into it with a mindset that you're going to see/hear more hunters per day than elk, and it will help level-set your expectations.   


The key is learning the area well.   Learn the elk patterns once hunters show up, where the elk escape to, where they feel comfortable enough again to respond to a bugle, what their preferred travel routes are around where all the hunt camps are, etc.   Scouting in advance helps learn the area and topography, but it could take a few years of hunting to learn how the elk behave once the throngs of backcountry hunters arrive.  You're not just outsmarting the elk, you're outsmarting the  other hunters as well.
 

My advice is to stubbornly stick with it at least 3 years....it may be discouraging the first couple of years but if you stick with it the payoff is worth it years later. 


And it's western WA:  you will likely hear elk, but it is entirely possible you can go an entire season without "seeing" the elk even though it's standing 30 yards from you.   So maybe revisit the first item on your buddies checklist and revise it to "hear elk crashing through the forest", and that will be a better first year goal for your first backcountry elk hunt in western WA.   That's not a joke, I'm being serious.   In the thick stuff you can have a bull bugling at you at 30-40 yards and he won't step out for a shot attempt regardless of what you try (well educated bulls due to the heavy hunting pressure).


Online JimmyHoffa

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Re: Do backcountry elk hunts exist in Western Washington?
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2020, 09:07:34 AM »
638 will fit your requirements except you'll probably only be 2-3 miles in. But you will definitely be in back country. And you won't find any tougher terrain to hunt elk in.
:yeah:  That is one of the coastal areas that comes to mind.  You can even find some decent trail access.  A few of the other units in the area are similar in terrain, but have decommissioned roads.  You can go 10-12 miles in.  Trying to haul something out would definitely be a challenge.

Offline TRD1911

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Re: Do backcountry elk hunts exist in Western Washington?
« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2020, 09:17:38 AM »
It's blowing my mind that some of the brains I want to 'pick' most on this site are showing up with suggestions. Sincerely appreciate it.

I just spent some time out in Clearwater for late archery. Initially I wrote it off as I only got into two herds of cows (and a spike) which were both near timber lands or private. Sign was very scarce in deep. If you're reading this and still out for late archery in Clearwater I'll send you some info on where I picked up the herds if it will help (like I said, didnt see any bulls though).

There has been a couple suggestions to give it another shot but I just didn't feel like it was "it". I'm by far no expert so when this suggestion keeps popping up I'd be silly not to reconsider. It's back on the list

Offline Special T

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Re: Do backcountry elk hunts exist in Western Washington?
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2020, 10:00:27 AM »
I think lots of places exist. I did a back country archery elk hunt a few years back. The hiking and views were as much of the back country experience as you can expect, in comparison to what you see on TV Youtube ect. Off trail hunting and hiking opportunities were awesome. Still saw plenty of folks and even called in some other hunters.
In archery we have something like the way of the superior man. When the archer misses the center of the target, he turns round and seeks for the cause of his failure in himself. 

Confucius

Offline tinsleystyle

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Re: Do backcountry elk hunts exist in Western Washington?
« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2020, 10:03:39 AM »
Get deep into the Packwood GMU 516. Or, head south to trout lake.

Offline TRD1911

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Re: Do backcountry elk hunts exist in Western Washington?
« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2020, 10:34:20 PM »
I won't narrow it down to a specific unit but if it were me I'd be looking at the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
Get deep into the Packwood GMU 516. Or, head south to trout lake.

This looks promising!

I really didn't expect so many great suggestions. That looks like some big country with lots of opportunity. Thank you



 


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