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Joined: 02/25/2007
Posts: 53
Cascade Elk General Season

Because of meat care issues, I am now considering a backpack wilderness hunt for elk with a rifle. The problem is that I have zero knowledge of elk behavior during the rifle season. What are they eating that time of year? If snow levels allow, will they still be found in the high country? How much snow on the ground is too much for a herd? North or South facing slopes? Any info is greatly appreciated.

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Location: Olympia, WA
Joined: 04/09/2005
Posts: 140
Cascade Elk General Season

East or West?

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Joined: 02/25/2007
Posts: 53
Cascade Elk General Season

West side

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Location: Olympia, WA
Joined: 04/09/2005
Posts: 140
Cascade Elk General Season

Solohunter, westside Elk vary in where they reside. We have elk from sealevel to 7000+ feet. You can read all you want about cyclic foraging patterns, http://biology.usgs.gov/s+t/SNT/noframe/pn176.htm
http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0003-0031(199310)130%3A2%3C299%3AWFADOE%3E2.0.CO%3B2-V#abstract
but, from what I have observed, Western WA elk eat the same thing most all year. Quality of their food source chages with the season.

Elk consume ferns, shrub foilage, and coniferous foilage during fall and winter, and grasses and herbaceous plants during spring and summer. Seasonally important dietary items include western hemlock, sword fern, red alder, and oxalis. Digestible energy in these foods is usually low, indicating that elk densities may be limited by the quality and quantity of winter forage (Leslie et al. 1984).

I would suggest finding Elk this summer, and then revisit them often, finding where the specific herd you are monitoring is going to be specifically for the opener of the hunt of your choice. You will find that they may move around or not. Then as your hunt approaches, and more yahoo's like yourself and myself prepare for the hunt, that they get scattered.

Nobody here will tell you what elevation to hunt elk at, or on which facing slope... We have had record book elk shot at 50' above sea level, (probably lower), and almost as high as you can climb in this state, including above snowline in alpine scree.

Some elk move out as soon as the snow falls, others hang tough, avoiding moving until absolutely necessary, yet still others choose not to migrate down elevation and starve.

The above is probalby not a whole lot of help. I would find a herd this summer, and stick with it. November in this state can have snow, I would plan for snow, but not count on it...make sense?

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Joined: 02/25/2007
Posts: 53
Cascade Elk General Season

Actually I am hunting in OR in the third week of October. As a bowhunter I know that elk are rutting in Septmeber. So is their focus just on eating and migrating in Oct? One of those you'll find them when you see them type deals?

osagejake's picture
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Location: springfield, oregon
Joined: 06/16/2007
Posts: 22
Cascade Elk General Season

I hunt the elk rifle season in Oregon, and can give you a couple tips. First, be aware of the popular areas for hunters. When the hunters show up en masse, the elk behavior changes abruptly. Most hunters stay where they saw elk all summer, and early fall, but because of pressure, those elk are long gone.

The second thing is that the mature bulls are tired from the rut by that time and rae solitary and isolated. To find them, look in the deepest darkest nastiest holes you can see. Thats where they'll be.

Bottom line, the elk will still be in the same GENERAL area as early fall, but they will move to more isolated areas. Look for large canyons around the summer feeding grounds, and hike in there for a few miles. Its hell on your body both getting there an packing one out, but thats where the elk are going to be.

Good Luck!

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