One of the most exciting animals to hunt with a bow is elk. Whether you use a crossbow or a compound bow, you are bound to have an experience of a lifetime tracking and hunting elk. This takes more than deciding to choose compound bow or crossbow. It takes knowledge, stamina, and patience.
Learn about Elk Prior to Hunting
Prior to setting out on a hunt for elk, it is a good idea to know where to go. Hunters can waste a lot of time simply looking for elk, which can take away the precious time that is required to actually hunt and kill one. It is best not to speed through the woods looking for an elk, because they will be sure they will not be found. The wise hunter will set aside time to find elk habitat by looking for droppings, tracks, and other clues. Once their habitat is established, then the hunter can set up a blind or tree stand and make the kill.
Pay Attention to a Herd’s Patterns
Elk behave similarly to deer. They eat the same food and wander in similar patterns. The success bowhunters will locate their favorite places and wait for the opportunity to shoot. Experienced elk hunters know that they will sit and wait because the elk will eventually come to them. Many of the best blinds for bow hunting are near fences, springs, and other areas where elk will find food.
Know When and Where They Feed
Since elk are usually found in mountainous areas, their habitats take up more space than deer. Some of the best spots to hunt for elk are near farms. Elk, like deer, will wander into agricultural areas to feed at night. Most farmers do not like this, so they usually do not mind if a hunter wants to help clear their land of these oversized pests. Of course, it is wise to talk to a farmer before tracking into their land. If you are not allowed to hunt near farms, you can use the tracks, droppings, and other clues to help track their habits away from the farmland.
Choose an Early Time to Hunt
Elk are not the smartest animals, but they will change their behaviors based on human intervention. If an elk is spooked, especially near their bedding areas, they will move. Since they are large animals that can move quickly, they can easily cross several miles to find a food source. Since elk will feed at night, many hunters will set up their blinds early in the morning so they can make a shot before the elk wander away from their food sources for the day. Seeing humans near food sources is a common occurrence for them, so it should not spook them if they see you.
If you are hunting elk on private ground, it is vital not to scare them. They will leave the land that you have permission to use, which could completely change your hunting tactics. They are easy to scare, so being quiet is recommended so you can actually get the kill.
Avoid Hunting on Windy Days
One way to keep the elk in a location that is convenient for you is to pay attention to the wind. Their sense of smell is outstanding, so they will notice that a human smell is nearby if the wind is blowing in their direction. Windy days should be avoided, because there is no way to mask the human smell. It does not matter if you wear an elk spray or use special elk-hunting clothing – their sense of smell is just too good.
Don’t Shoot the Lead Cow
When you are hunting elk and you are lucky enough to find a herd, you should avoid shooting the cow in the lead. You will have more success shooting a bull or a calf. Elk herds do what the lead cow does, so if she runs, you will be out of luck on making the shot because there will be nothing left to shoot.
Use Calls Sparingly
Some bow hunters think they should use elk calls to get the game to come to them. This does not usually work as expected. In some cases, it actually can interfere with their breeding seasons. This is a problem, but another problem lies in the fact that too many people use calls. If you are using a call in a remote location away from other hunters, the call could work well. But, once they are used by several hunters in a small location, they become useless. The numbers of calls actually seems to keep the elk away from humans.
Since hunting elk has become more common over the years, the behavior of elk has changed. Therefore, the way that hunters behave has changed, too. Many hunters who know nothing about this majestic animal try to hunt them which has changed the behavior of many elk herds. It is helpful for hunters to consider their fellow hunters before they attack this animal without knowledge.