Do It Yourself Elk Hunt – DIY Tips for Elk Camp

Do It Yourself Elk Hunt – DIY Tips for Elk Camp

Here’s a good set of suggestions and ideas about how to get setup to do your own DIY Elk Hunt.  He goes into all areas including picking your hunting party, where to go, what equipment to use, how to get along, etc.

This is not an all-inclusive how-to type of video but offers some valuable ideas about things you need to think about when getting started with your own DIY Elk Hunt.

Enjoy!

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Elk Herd – Elk Social Behavior

Elk Herd Social Behavior – Elk Migration, Elk Sounds, Bull Elk Bugling

Elk Herd

Elk Herd

Elk have a complicated social behavior that lends to exciting wildlife viewing and survival in harsh environments.  Elk are organized around a matriarchal society.

The herd leaders are older cows. These lead cows know the migration routes, calving areas, river crossings and other important information. Migration is a learned behavior, not instinctive.  Older cows will teach younger elk migration paths from summer to winter ranges.

Cow/calf herds and mature bulls tend to stay segregated except during the rut, although younger bulls can be seen with the cows. Bulls tend to stay in bachelor groups, except for the rut when they are competing with one another.

Elk exhibit a range of sounds to warn of predators and communicate with one another. Cows and calves “chirp” or “mew” back and forth when the herd is moving, feeding or
regrouping. This allows the animals to keep in contact with each other.

Bulls also bugle, bark and make other sounds. Elk are gregarious animals, and displays of dominance are common within the herd. Cows may lower their head and flatten their ears or two cows may stand on their back legs and box. Bulls spar with their antlers, or box when the antlers have been shed.

Social behavior peaks during the rut.  Bull displays of dominance can be very subtle, by the tilt of the antlers or in the bull’s walk. When bulls fight, it is usually between equally matched animals, and it is an effort to push the other back until he retreats. Fatalities
from these fights are not common, but injuries occur frequently.

 

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Elk Hunting – The Elk Rut

Elk Rut – The Most Exciting Time of the Year For Hunting

The Elk Rut

The Elk Rut

The mating season or rut is from late August to October, peaking in September. During this time, bulls have a dramatic increase in testosterone causing their necks to swell, exhibit more aggressive behavior and advertise their fitness with dominance displays.

Bulls will display dominance by bugling, wallowing, urinating on themselves, rubbing/
thrashing vegetation, and displaying antlers. These behaviors are not necessarily confined to mating season, but are most prevalent during this time.

Mature bulls breed more often than younger bulls.  Although spikes (16 months old) are physiologically capable, they generally are not fully capable until later in the rut, and have lower sperm counts. Elk are polygamous and promiscuous. Bulls will assemble “harems” or groups of females they will breed with.

Cows will cycle through 1-4 heats (estrus) 21 days in length. Cows can breed at 1.5 years, but older cows (2.5 years old) have the highest conception rates.

We’ll share more on the social aspects of elk next…

 

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Elk Hunting – All About Elk Antlers

Elk Antlers
All You Want To Know About Bull Elk Antlers

Bull Elk Antlers

Antlers are the headgear male elk and other members of the deer family grow and shed annually.  Peak antler growth usually occurs between the ages of 7-12.  Summer nutrition is the major factor determining antler size, but mineral availability and genetics also play a role.

Growing antlers have a rich blood supply and network of nerves.  Antlers grow by depositing cartilage tissue that mineralizes into hard dead bone once the blood supply pinches off. Then rich velvet blood supply dries and is shed.  Larger bulls grow their antlers for about 140 days, while spikes are complete in 90 days. Antler growthis generally complete by mid-August.

The color of bare antlers comes from the reaction between oxygen in the air and the plant material the The Rut Age Antlers Description 1.5 First set Spike bulls, may be forked with 2-4 points 2.5 Second set “Raghorn” Bulls, smaller slender 3-5 3.5 Third set Smaller with mature appearance, 5-6 points animal rubs on. Different plants result in various antler color. Pines generally create a darker color compared to aspen or willows. Dried blood may appear on the antler as well.

Larger bulls shed their antlers first, generally in early March. Spikes lose theirs as late as May or June.  Declining concentrations of testosterone, seasonal light duration, and an animal’s metabolism cause the erosion of the bone and the bond between the antler and the pedicle.

Once the antler drops, a wound will bleed but will become a new antler bud. New antler growth starts almost immediately, and velvet nubs can be seen within a few weeks.  Antlers can grow up to an inch and a half per day.

Abnormalities are generally caused by genetics or injuries. Occasionally in the winter, elk are seen with velvet antlers. These may be females with severe hormone imbalances, causing sterility and growth of eo-antlers.  These animals may also be a stag or castrated male. These animals either were born without testicles, or sustained an injury to their genitalia.

Stags will sometimes have the coloration of a cow, and will be heavier than other bulls. Stags can also have eo-antlers that may be stunted or deformed. Generally, stags will keep their velvet antlers and not shed them.

 

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Elk Herd – Jackson Hole National Elk Refuge

Elk Herd Management at the Jackson Hole National Elk Refuge

The modeled population estimate for the Jackson elk herd was 13,356 for 2003-4.  From 1989-90 through 2003-4, the herd has ranged from 13,200-18,825 animals. The Wyoming Game and Fish objective remains 11,029 and the department plans to continue to reduce herd size.

During the winter of 2004-5, the total number of elk wintering on and adjacent to the refuge ranged between 5,689 and 6,312.  The remainder of the herd winters in Grand Teton National Park, on state feed grounds, and on native winter range. Summer ranges include Grand Teton NP, Bridger Teton National Forest (including the Teton Wilderness), and southern Yellowstone National Park.

Hunting accounts for nearly 90% of adult mortality in the Jackson elk herd. The harvest rate has averaged 20% of the herd during the last 20 years.

Elk Predators:

Grizzly and black bears, cougars, wolves, and coyotes prey on calves  and/or adult elk. The influence of predators may vary from one area to another, at different times, and for different reasons.  Amount and quality of habitat, including the availability of winter and transitional range, affect elk numbers, distributions and health.

Winter elk mortality averages 1-2% on the National Elk Refuge because supplemental feed is provided nearly every winter.  If supplemental feeding were to be phased back to above average winters only, winter mortality would be expected to range from 1-5%.

Disease can kill elk directly or debilitate animals so that they are more susceptible to predation and severe winter conditions.

Other causes of mortality include natural events, such as drowning, particularly in the spring when water levels are high and elk often fall through ice. Vehicle collisions are also frequent causes of mortality.

These factors interact in complex ways, often making it difficult to determine the cause of population fluctuations.

 

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Elk Hunting Tips – Know Elk Biology

Elk Hunting Tips – Know Elk Biology

As an informed elk hunter, both for archery elk hunting and rifle elk hunting, I want to know as much about the animal as possible.   Knowing the animal, the elk biology and elk habits, you have a slightly better chance at coming home with meat.

So, over the next few weeks I’ll be posting information about elk biology and elk habitat.

The first post today: Information about Bull Elk

Winter Adaptation:

Bulls expend a great amount of energy during the rut. It is not uncommon for a bull to loose 100-150 pounds causing bulls to come into winter in poor body condition, making them more susceptible to the scabies mite and other diseases.

  • Elk have a two layer coat: a wooly undercoat and longer hollow guard hairs with air trapping qualities on top. The winter coat is shed in the spring and replaced by a thin, sleek summer coat.
  • Elk will lie with their feet tucked under the body to reduce heat loss during cold winter days and nights.
  • Elk have a reduced blood supply to their legs which keeps their core body temperature higher.
  • Elk herd together during storms to prevent heat loss.
  • Energy intensive activities, such as long movements, are reduced in the winter.

Some Facts:

  • Wapiti is the Shawnee name for elk meaning “white rump”.
  • A bull averages 600 lbs. in winter and 700 lbs. in summer.
  • A cow averages 500 lbs. in winter and 450-500 lbs. in summer. Calves weigh 30-35 lbs. at birth.
  • During a calf’s first winter they weigh an average of 250 lbs.
  • Elk can run at speed bursts up to 45 mph and can sustain 30 mph.
  • Elk eat about 20 lbs. of grass per day. They eat about half this during the winter because the grass is cured, less digestible and less available.
  • Calves have virtually no odor at birth and blend well with their surroundings.
  • Elk are ruminants like cows and have four stomachs.

More to come…..

 

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Archery Elk Hunt – New Mexico Bull Elk 8×7

A huge 8×7 Bull Elk in New Mexico.  Taken at a waterhole.

Elk bowhunting at it’s best!

Excellent hunting footage.  Clean, pass-though shot.  Elk drops quickly.
Enjoy this one!

 

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Colorado Archery Elk Hunt * DIY *

 

DIY Archery Elk Hunt in Colorado using G5 Broadheads

Here’s some good footage of a nice shot on a Colorado Bull Elk during archery season with an OTC license.

Montec G5 at 37 yards.  Shaking and all!

Enjoy……

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Tips for Elk Hunters in Grizzly Country

Concerned about grizzly bears in your elk hunting area?

The Fish and Wildlife Service offers these tips to help you stay safe while elk hunting in grizzly areas:

As a hunter in the fall in grizzly country, you have a higher chance than hikers and other visitors of encountering a grizzly bear. Typical hunting behavior is what increases this risk: hunters move quietly, downwind from game, and often travel during the same early morning and late evening hours bears are most active. In addition, hunters may move through dense timber, along trails, and in other areas frequented by bears. Hunters produce carcasses and gut piles that are very attractive to hungry bears trying to build body fat before winter hibernation.

If you choose to hunt in areas inhabited by grizzly bears, you need to learn how to avoid having a confrontation with one of them. Killing a grizzly bear in the Lower 48 States is both a federal and state offense that can bring criminal and civil penalties of up to $50,000 and a year in jail. Hunters are responsible for being sure of their target before they pull the trigger, and claims of self-defense are thoroughly investigated. Unnecessary killing of grizzlies only contributes to their decline, and may result in more restrictive hunting privileges in the future.

Learn about bear behavior: Bears often sleep during the day in dense “dark” timber; if disturbed in their day beds, they are often surprised and will sometimes charge in confusion. Bears like berries, so try to avoid large brush patches; if you must travel through a brush patch, watch for moving bushes and always make noise to alert bears you are coming.

Avoid hunting alone: Always try to travel in pairs.

Always carry pepper spray and know how to use it: While bear spray cannot prevent an encounter,it can deter a bear’s charge and prevent or shorten the duration of an attack.

Learn to recognize signs of bears in the area: Leave when you see fresh tracks, scat, and diggings.

Always keep a clean camp: Avoid attracting and rewarding a bear with food. Remember, all food and beverages, including canned food, garbage, pet food, and scented toiletries are bear attractants.

After the kill, remove the carcass from the area as soon as possible: Immediately field dress the animal and move the gut pile at least 100 yards from the carcass; never leave it near or on a trail, which could endanger others. Gut piles can be easily slid on a piece of visqueen plastic or tarp. If you cannot immediately pack out the carcass, hang it at least 10 feet above ground (cut it into quarters if necessary). Leave the carcass where you can see it from a distance.

Be aware that where there is a carcass, there may be a bear: When returning to a carcass, observe it with binoculars from a safe distance before approaching. Make noise and approach from upwind if possible. If a bear has claimed a carcass, let the bear have the meat and leave the area immediately! Do not risk your safety. Report the incident as soon as possible to the proper authorities.

Bugles and cow calls can attract bears: Stay alert!

 

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Elk Hunting Wyoming – 6 x 7 at 284 Yards

Elk Hunting Wyoming – Big 6 x 7 bull taken at 284 yards.

Good spotting, good shooting – clean kill.

 

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