This is going to sound like a smart a$$ answer but it is not. Hunt where the elk are. If you are talking about Colorado (which I assume you are) they have been been through and archery season, muzzy season and one rifle season before the second season. Be willing to go where no man wants to go. The elk will gather in places that nobody bothers them. You may get a chance at them early in the morning or late evening but, by the middle of October they are well conditioned. We have been lucky enough to get new elk pushed into our area that don't seem to know where the safe zones are for a day or 2 and have had good success.
That's all good advice from Bull Buster. Try to envision where pressure will come from and where it will send the elk. You'll want to find natural choke points and escape routes to take advantage of. If you think you'll be hunting unpressured elk, you'll want to hunt whichever habitat factor is in the least abundance; water, food, cover.
The best thing to do that time of year is get high depending on the snow fall level and have some excellent optics and really glass. You want to glass out to 4 or 5 miles if you can with a good spotting scope. The elk will be pretty quiet so glassing will be the key. Be prepared to do a lot of walking moving from different peaks glassing below drainages but the hunt really should be divided into two phases. The first phase is you aren't necessarily going to be where you think elk are. You want to be finding good vantage points and glassing like crazy. Once you've located elk then phase two comes into play and thats where you formulated how you're going to go into the area and hunt.
The older I get the more I get away from going into the timber and looking for sign and the more I go to glassing from high vantage points out several miles. You would be surprised at how much you learn about an area doing this.
All of us, at one time or another have gone on a hunting trip and had what we call “Blue Bird” weather. Warm evenings and almost hot days. We hunt in our t-shirts and enjoy the sunshine. We are way up in the mountains and have a whole week to hunt. How could it get any better?
That is, until we score on that big buck or bull. We work to get it out of the field and skinned as quickly as possible to cool it down. But try as we might, we just can’t get...