Tips to Preparing For a Successful Elk Hunt
Be Conditioned: An elk hunt, self-guided, or with an outfitter, will be physically taxing on your body. You must prepare yourself ahead of time, perhaps months, for the rigors ahead. Keeping a weekly schedule of walking should be the least of your exercise. Go on a hike at a local state park. Get off the trails and hike up and down ridges. Traverse ridge lines, and practice looking for sign for it helps to mentally prepare your eyes as well. Load up on carbohydrates at least a couple weeks before your hunt. This will help your body store lots of energy. Your going to need it! Elk hunting is not for the faint of heart. If you have medical conditions such as heart problems, you should stick to road hunting deer.
Get your equipment together: Don’t wait till the last week to get your pack together, only to find yourself scrambling to gather the essentials, and you’ll end up forgetting something. Gather your hunting equipment a month in advance. This gives you time for several trips to the outdoor store. Be prepared for all situations. You might be hunting in New Mexico, but you can still get rained on. Likewise, you could be hunting in Montana, and it could be 60 degrees. Don’t forget your survival kit, extra ammunition, and always make sure people close to you know where your going and when you’ll be back. Back country elk hunters should always carry a NOAA radio and/or other forms of communication with nearby authorities.
Practice your bugling and cow calling: From experience, I know how important this is. Picture yourself on opening day, and you’ve managed to squeeze yourself right in the middle of three raging bulls, only to have them scatter in the blink of eye having heard the squeal emanating from my bugle tube. Make sure your reeds and other calls are in good working order. If at all possible, go out before the elk season and practice on live elk. I don’t recommend taking your rifle though, as this could raise suspicion with local fish and game. Calling in your elk before opening day gives you a huge advantage, and is a great locator tactic. Those elk are not likely to move much.
Get Your Weapon of Choice Ready: Whether your bow, center-fire, or muzzle loader, spend plenty of time before hand sighting in. This is especially true for bow hunting. Your muscles have to have lots of exercise to be able to hold a draw, and still make a kill shot. Center-fire calibers should be at least .270 150 grains, to guarantee a good kill shot. More popular yet is the .300 Winchester Mag, or even 30.06. Buy a rangefinder and practice using it on targets at various yardages and angles.
The Day Before: Have all your gear assembled in one spot. Have a good breakfast plan assembled. Get plenty of rest the night before. It’s a good idea to go to bed a couple hours before normal. You’ll most likely have a hard time getting to sleep anyway. And last but not least, don’t forget to set your alarm clock, and GOOD LUCK!