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Author Topic: How to hunt elk in Western WA  (Read 5808 times)

Offline ljsommer

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How to hunt elk in Western WA
« on: September 19, 2022, 10:43:21 AM »
I am on a mission to learn more about elk in Western WA. Specifically, I am hunting for useful information about how the specific challenges with Western WA elk. 99% of all "how to hunt elk" information is marketed to terrain that looks like Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, etc. That knowledge can be applied to areas of Eastern WA but I have found next to nothing about how to overcome the unique challenges that face a Western WA elk hunter.

I own the Blacktail Tactics book, is there book, video, or learning series that can help me with Western WA elk? I am in Tacoma so pretty nicely positioned between the peninsula and Rainier, but (despite having a few years of attempts, both rifle and archery) I consider myself 100% new to elk hunting so I am starting from zero.

My (amateur) perceived challenges:
1.) Finding elk - I noticed with a late archery Wynoochee lottery tag that the elk seem to roam enormous distances. This becomes problematic when you take access into consideration. How do you account for their range?
2.) Getting away from pressure in Western WA means walking into extremely dense rainforest jungle, where movement happens at 10 feet per hour. Unless you know for a fact there are elk there, how do you efficiently cover ground to even find them in the first place?
3.) Is glassing just for closing 100 yards or less? I don't see how glassing could be a usable tool to find elk with territory so densely forested
4.) People talk about muzzie like it's the only way to get elk, what's up with that? Just a "sweet spot" between rut activity and access to a weapon that has more range than a bow?
5.) How is GoHunt for elk? Seems like their terrain analysis feature could be useful

Just looking for some information to get going, even if it's a link to an article, book, or tool.

Offline JakeLand

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Re: How to hunt elk in Western WA
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2022, 12:11:02 PM »
Itís always a challenge thatís what makes it great , thereís a YouTube podcast with Brian cal and angry spike production ( Shannon Moab) thatís pretty useful

Offline huntnfmly

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Re: How to hunt elk in Western WA
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2022, 12:51:28 PM »
I seen a you tube video with Randy Newberg explaining and showing examples of the go hunt terrain analysis
Looks pretty good starting point for you
Find an area youíre thinking about and throw the info they have on that and it looks like it would help crossing areas off or circling areas to check out
I may trade in my onX mapping and give that a try
Good luck and enjoy
Donít put too much pressure on yourself have fun
I'm your dam tour guide Arnie please donít wonder off the dam tour.
Take as many dam pictures as you want ....
Are there any dam questions ..

Offline ljsommer

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Re: How to hunt elk in Western WA
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2022, 12:58:45 PM »
I seen a you tube video with Randy Newberg explaining and showing examples of the go hunt terrain analysis
Looks pretty good starting point for you
Find an area youíre thinking about and throw the info they have on that and it looks like it would help crossing areas off or circling areas to check out
I may trade in my onX mapping and give that a try
Good luck and enjoy
Donít put too much pressure on yourself have fun

Yeah I just watched that episode about the terrain analysis and it looks like a great tool that I'll be making use of. Just looking for any other info on western WA elk just because there seems to be so little.

Offline MountainWalk

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Re: How to hunt elk in Western WA
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2022, 01:03:31 PM »
Go make friends with some shovel or tower loggers. Have a bottle of Pendleton and a rack of Rainer.  Be honest about what you want. Before I started logging, they helped me quite a bit.  Then I became a logger.  Those guys come in at dark and stay til almost dark. They use those roads every day.

  Donít think you have to be miles from a road.  Elk will hang around units, they are used to motors and whistles.
The way that you wander, is the way that you choose
The day that you tarry, is the day that you lose

Offline haftard

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Re: How to hunt elk in Western WA
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2022, 03:21:47 PM »
first of all finding elk on the wet side is easy. if you want you can shoot me a pm and we can talk on the phone.

now killing an elk is a totaly diffrent story. some guys do it based on 90% skill and 10% luck, other guys do it on 100% luck, but no one kills elk based on skill alone. just keeping the wind good for more then 5 minuets can be challenge.

Offline Damnimissed

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Re: How to hunt elk in Western WA
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2022, 03:46:06 PM »
Iíve never heard anyone claim muzzleloader is the only way to kill elk. It can be a good season, albeit short, but dont think itís not crowded. Its less hunters crammed into less units.
Glassing is very effective, especially during rifle season, finding elk in the dog hair reprod from a vantage point. They love that stuff and usually the only time you can kill them in it, is from across a canyon looking into it.
As far as dipping down into a crickbottom with devils club and salmon berry over you head, theres no reason to do that unless you have tracks or know thatís where they went. If you canít find them and know a particular $&*#hole they run to, thatís another story but just blindly bumbling through nasty brush without tracks will usually be a waste of time.

So, basically, find fresh tracks and go from there. $.02

Online pickardjw

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Re: How to hunt elk in Western WA
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2022, 07:55:18 PM »
Any thoughts on whether bulls on camera in August will still be around come muzzy season? My second elk season, first on the west side. This is not a coastal area for reference. Pretty popular for archery though so I'm assuming the elk will have been pushed around.

I'm planning to use my info from the cameras to start out, hopefully the elk are vocal enough to adjust from there.

Offline bobcat

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Re: How to hunt elk in Western WA
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2022, 07:58:37 PM »
Any thoughts on whether bulls on camera in August will still be around come muzzy season? My second elk season, first on the west side. This is not a coastal area for reference. Pretty popular for archery though so I'm assuming the elk will have been pushed around.

I'm planning to use my info from the cameras to start out, hopefully the elk are vocal enough to adjust from there.

If there are cows also in the same area the bulls might still be there- if the cows are. But if in August it's bulls only, they very well could be completely gone while the rut is happening.

Online pickardjw

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Re: How to hunt elk in Western WA
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2022, 08:01:08 PM »
If there are cows also in the same area the bulls might still be there- if the cows are. But if in August it's bulls only, they very well could be completely gone while the rut is happening.

Lots of cows with bulls mixed in occasionally during August.

Offline bobcat

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Re: How to hunt elk in Western WA
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2022, 08:09:56 PM »
If there are cows also in the same area the bulls might still be there- if the cows are. But if in August it's bulls only, they very well could be completely gone while the rut is happening.

Lots of cows with bulls mixed in occasionally during August.

In that case you're probably good then.

Offline roger1042

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Re: How to hunt elk in Western WA
« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2022, 09:00:31 PM »
Iím in the same boat as you! Very new to elk, live in Bremerton. Got my butt kicked and feel like roosies donít behave at all like Rockies.

Found two podcasts with Angry Spike Productions, the one with Hunt Backcountry and the one with Randy Newberg are must listens.. Theyíve got an approach that makes sense to me; I only wish I had found it before my hunt and not on the drive home.

Offline Maybach Outdoors

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Re: How to hunt elk in Western WA
« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2022, 07:43:33 AM »
I got my first Roosie (and animal) this year with a bow. I started last year and was pretty determined to figure them out this year. No expert by any means. Here is what I did:

1. I picked a unit that harvests a lot of elk. If I knew there were elk in there...and those elk were killed every year... it gave me hope. I understood that hunting pressure would be a challange, but my goal was to get as many elk encounters as possible. I knew that finding elk is half the battle, but you also have to call them in or sneak up on them and finally shoot them. I simply wanted more experience with these things. And, knowing that elk were in that unit gave me a mental safety net when things got tough. I lot of people pack up and leave after the first 3 or 4 days because they don't see or hear anything.

2. I spent 10-15 weekends in the same unit. Same general area. Walking around, setting up cameras, and hitting as many areas as possible. I looked for last years' rubs and sign. If I didn't find old rubs or sign I crossed that area off my list (they might actually move into these areas during hunting season, but I assumed that they would not be there) Generally, what I found is that the elk were making 2-3 day loops through the same general area. That's how I was seeing them on camera at least.

3. I set up a nice camp. It was nice to have a comfortable and dry bed to sleep in every night. Makes hunting all day a lot more feasible. Last year I was sleeping out of my car and I only lasted 5 days. I made sure I had good and healthy food so I would have energy to hunt all day.

4. I came up with a game plan for a 9 day hunt. I was going to spend the first 4 days hitting the same spot every day (it's about a 9-10 mile loop). I was bumping elk in there all summer. My thinking was that if the elk were making a loop they simply might not be in one area on one specific day. But, I want to emphasize that I was going to hit that area no matter what on all 4 days. I feel like I moved around too much last year. The next 3 days I would hit other areas I had scouted in the summer. Covering as much ground as possible. Finally, I left the last 2 days as wildcard days in case I had come up with a better plan.

5. I came up with a game plan on how I was going to hunt the elk. For the first 4 days I was going to alternate morning, afternoon, and evening strategies (calling, still hunt, ambush, etc.). For example, I would do a lot of bugling and calling morning 1. But, I would still hunt morning 2 while bugling and calling afternoon 2. I still don't really know how to hunt these elk. My thinking was to try a systematic approach and see what sticks.

6. Be flexible. I was very surprised when my super top secret spot that had zero bootprints all summer had 9 trucks parked at the gate on opening morning. I remember telling myself "it's a marathon not a sprint" over and over as I drove away to plan B (same general area just different access point). I walked into some dark timber in hopes of intercepting elk that would be pushed... 30 minutes into my hunt I had a bull bugling and killed him after 15 minutes. 95% luck for sure, but I still have meat in the freezer.

7. Be persistent. Stick to the plan. I went back into my area 3-4 days after opening morning to pick up my cameras. No pick ups at the gate. Not a soul out there. I had 2 bulls bugling their heads off right where I thought they would be.

My plan for next year is to figure out another unit closer to home. I was driving nearly 6 hours every scouting trip, so that takes a lot out boots on the ground time. I have an general understanding now of what the elk appear to like (timber, reprod, etc.), so I will escout places that appear similar to the ones I found this summer. I'm going to repeat the same process in the new unit and then decide which one I want to hunt next year. Worst case scenario I have more intel.

Hope this helps. If you need more insight reach out to me on instagram @Hunt_phd

M

Offline Maybach Outdoors

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Re: How to hunt elk in Western WA
« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2022, 07:45:47 AM »
I realize my reply is more of a general advice I guess as the original post is asking for specific tactics... I'm all ears on that topic myself lol

Offline ljsommer

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Re: How to hunt elk in Western WA
« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2022, 08:03:39 AM »
I got my first Roosie (and animal) this year with a bow. I started last year and was pretty determined to figure them out this year. No expert by any means. Here is what I did:

1. I picked a unit that harvests a lot of elk. If I knew there were elk in there...and those elk were killed every year... it gave me hope. I understood that hunting pressure would be a challange, but my goal was to get as many elk encounters as possible. I knew that finding elk is half the battle, but you also have to call them in or sneak up on them and finally shoot them. I simply wanted more experience with these things. And, knowing that elk were in that unit gave me a mental safety net when things got tough. I lot of people pack up and leave after the first 3 or 4 days because they don't see or hear anything.

2. I spent 10-15 weekends in the same unit. Same general area. Walking around, setting up cameras, and hitting as many areas as possible. I looked for last years' rubs and sign. If I didn't find old rubs or sign I crossed that area off my list (they might actually move into these areas during hunting season, but I assumed that they would not be there) Generally, what I found is that the elk were making 2-3 day loops through the same general area. That's how I was seeing them on camera at least.

3. I set up a nice camp. It was nice to have a comfortable and dry bed to sleep in every night. Makes hunting all day a lot more feasible. Last year I was sleeping out of my car and I only lasted 5 days. I made sure I had good and healthy food so I would have energy to hunt all day.

4. I came up with a game plan for a 9 day hunt. I was going to spend the first 4 days hitting the same spot every day (it's about a 9-10 mile loop). I was bumping elk in there all summer. My thinking was that if the elk were making a loop they simply might not be in one area on one specific day. But, I want to emphasize that I was going to hit that area no matter what on all 4 days. I feel like I moved around too much last year. The next 3 days I would hit other areas I had scouted in the summer. Covering as much ground as possible. Finally, I left the last 2 days as wildcard days in case I had come up with a better plan.

5. I came up with a game plan on how I was going to hunt the elk. For the first 4 days I was going to alternate morning, afternoon, and evening strategies (calling, still hunt, ambush, etc.). For example, I would do a lot of bugling and calling morning 1. But, I would still hunt morning 2 while bugling and calling afternoon 2. I still don't really know how to hunt these elk. My thinking was to try a systematic approach and see what sticks.

6. Be flexible. I was very surprised when my super top secret spot that had zero bootprints all summer had 9 trucks parked at the gate on opening morning. I remember telling myself "it's a marathon not a sprint" over and over as I drove away to plan B (same general area just different access point). I walked into some dark timber in hopes of intercepting elk that would be pushed... 30 minutes into my hunt I had a bull bugling and killed him after 15 minutes. 95% luck for sure, but I still have meat in the freezer.

7. Be persistent. Stick to the plan. I went back into my area 3-4 days after opening morning to pick up my cameras. No pick ups at the gate. Not a soul out there. I had 2 bulls bugling their heads off right where I thought they would be.

My plan for next year is to figure out another unit closer to home. I was driving nearly 6 hours every scouting trip, so that takes a lot out boots on the ground time. I have an general understanding now of what the elk appear to like (timber, reprod, etc.), so I will escout places that appear similar to the ones I found this summer. I'm going to repeat the same process in the new unit and then decide which one I want to hunt next year. Worst case scenario I have more intel.

Hope this helps. If you need more insight reach out to me on instagram @Hunt_phd

M

Excellent write-up, thanks for taking the time to do that! When are you going to replace that BMW by the way? ;)

 


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