September 1 marks the start of archery elk hunting season in the Rocky Mountains, and hunters everywhere will be gearing up in hopes of a successful fall. However, if your season is truly beginning at the start of September, meaning you haven’t scouted the land you plan to hunt or made any other preparations, you are in for a very rough, most likely unsuccessful season of elk hunting.
The key to being successful is starting before the season begins by scouting out your area and preparing yourself, your gear, and your hunting spot for the most ideal hunting conditions. Elk hunting season is right around the corner, so we’ve compiled these top tips to help you be prepared and increase your chances of a productive season.
Elk Scouting Pro Tips
Know your area, prepare your gear, and get out in nature to best prepare for a successful, exciting season of elk hunting.
Before you even set foot in the area you plan to hunt during your season, your scouting should begin online looking at maps and Google Earth. You’re looking for places that right off the bat are likely to have large herds. Large bodies of water, wallows, feeding areas, and saddles will stick out on a map and should be your first area of target.
Put Boots on the Ground
Now that you roughly know the lay of the land virtually, it’s time to actually scout the area in person. You’ll want to visit the places you marked using Google Earth and online maps, but mostly you are looking for large groups of cows, or at least signs of them. Every hunter wants to bag that trophy buck, and your best chance of doing that is knowing where the cows are that they will eventually start to mate with.
Prepare Yourself and Your Gear
Any good hunter is ready to go any time of year. There is nothing more frustrating than getting out to your new spot for the first time only to realize your scope is broken or you’re missing another essential piece of equipment. Go through your gear well beforehand and replace or fix any broken or missing essentials. You are also most likely going to be trekking through some rough terrain, so it wouldn’t hurt to start doing some exercises to get you in shape.
Be Ready for Hunting Pressure
As isolated and private as you think your new spot is, there is still likely to be hunting pressure and the odds of you being the only hunter out there are very low. You need to anticipate this and be ready. When you’re scouting the land in person for the first time, look for other foot traffic and pick spots away from those areas. You should also be looking for places herds might migrate towards when they start to feel the hunting pressure after the start of the season.
Look For and Mark Rut Areas and Signs
While scouting your new spot, make sure to mark potential rut areas on your map. These areas include large bodies of water and wallows. You are also looking for signs of elk in the area. So, any sign of rubs, tracks, even elk poop will help you understand the movement patterns and which areas herds frequent the most.
Set Up Trail Cameras
Choose a few places that have obvious signs of elk activity and are close to rutting areas or possible feeding areas to set up your trail cameras. Remember to set your cameras higher up to increase your vantage point, and study your footage regularly.