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Location: Creswell Or
Joined: 12/19/2008
Posts: 4
? about scouting for elk

Hey guys,

I would like to know what you guys do to find elk. It was my first year elk hunting and bow hunting. I didn't scout this year so I didn't see anything other than poop and tracks. So this 09 season i would like to find a cow at least. Any help would be great.

Like when do you start scouting. What are you looking for? How far in the woods do you guys go. All those types of things.

I'm hunting up Oak Ridge.

exbiologist's picture
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Location: Colorado
Joined: 09/19/2008
Posts: 2399
? about scouting for elk

I differentiate two types of scouting. One is trophy scouting, where you are trying to keep an eye on a particular animal and figure out what areas he is using. That doesn't apply to most of us.
More realistically is the public land scouting. You have a lot of information available to you before you even set foot in your area. First is population and harvest data to help you determine a general unit to hunt. Next, pick up some maps and use them in conjunction with Google Earth, NRCS soil Survey aerial photos, mytopo or whatever other remote scouting tool you choose. I try to learn the area before I even set foot in it. You need to understand the difference between meadows and clearcuts, good photos can also help you identify oak/aspen country from coniferous areas. You need to also know why that is important.
Using those photos to help you locate likely areas, you can help develop a game plan throughout the summer to investigate your favorite areas. Where I hunt, I can't get high into the mountains before June, and even then not much until late June. I'm even thinking about taking up mountain lion hunting on foot this winter to force myself to get out more.
So once you are on the ground you think you might want to hunt it's time to start looking for sign. You'll quickly learn what lots of sign versus very little sign looks like. You MUST learn what browsed and stressed vegetation looks like. This is a great indicator of good game usage. It's also important, although many guys can't do this, to learn important browse species and important cool season grasses.
If you are in an area where the game doesn't migrate very much, now you can start looking for them. If you are hunting a migratory herd, there's very little reason to find them on their summer range. Of course it's nice to see game, but hiking around 10-12,000 foot mountains is pointless if you can't actually hunt animals up there. Talking to biologists from the game department and Forest Service and BLM can all help you answer a lot of questions. But do this BEFORE late summer so you can learn and ask follow up questions

As for the animals themselves, if you are seeing them in an area they will likely be in during hunting season, you can start getting an idea of what trophy quality is in the area and what specific drainages, mountainsides and the like the animals are using. I love scouting season and find a lot of pleasure in discovering new areas. So make a few camping trips out of your scouting this summer if possible.
Now, if you are hunting a heavily migratory herd, it is best to get out to the woods, if even for a day, 1 week before the season starts. If I am going to be camping where I am hunting, I try to get there two days before the season starts. Ideally I would be at my campsite before midday, then go out scouting that night with the intention of actually finding game. Same idea the next morning and evening because there will always be some new spot to investigate. I try not to hunt and scout the same place in consecutive days for fear of leaving too much scent.

Offline
Location: Creswell Or
Joined: 12/19/2008
Posts: 4
? about scouting for elk

Hey man thanks so much for the help. Thats a lot of good info. thanks a bunch.

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