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NOTAKD's picture
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headin out for the hunt

Whats everyones point of view on when to head out in seach of elk?  I have heard alittle of both sides.  Wait till 1st light and go sneaky petey through the woods spot and stalk type while heading to your spot or head out way early before 1st light and get to where you want to be.  I have done both ways hunting whitetails in the east and have run many a deer out while walking in.  Curious on what other folks think and do.

hawkeye270's picture
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Location: Fort Collins, CO
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I have used both methods...

I have used both methods... and have harvested elk using both tactics. The decision of what method to use usually depends on many factors. I have moved within 50 yards of deer and elk while hiking into my opening morning spot while it was still dark and they did not bust. I could make them out by moonlight and they didn't seem to mind that I was moving through the area. If I was moving through there after the sun came up, I'm certain they would not have acted the same. I like getting to my spot and waiting for the sun to come up. It is an amazing experience blending into the terrain and watching the woods come alive. This also allows all the hunters that didn't decide to hike in early to push game towards me. This has worked many a time.

There are some set ups that I prefer to still hunt my way to my spot once shooting light has come up. This allows you to see the area that you are moving through and if you are judicous about going slow and glassing the terrain in front of you, you stand a chance of getting within range of an animal before it notices you. I don't like to use this method if I think that I am not going to be the first person heading into the area that morning. If you're not the first person in there, it is more likely that other hunters have pushed game out of the area.

In summation, I like both methods. Sorry if that was not the answer you were looking for.

GooseHunter Jr's picture
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For me kinds depends on the

For me kinds depends on the weather.  If its warm I may leave a little later than normal as the animals may be holed up staying where it is cool and try ti get one them while still in the timber.  If its cold or snowing I like to be in my area before sun rise.  That way when they get up to get moving and get that earlt breakfast I am waiting right there for them.

bitmasher's picture
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If the weather has been warm

If the weather has been warm and clear nights, I think it is best to be at your destination as dawn occurs.  If its bitter cold and cloudy, I don't think it will make much of a difference.

elkkill06's picture
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When to head in

I will not walk into my area wether it is a 1/4 mile in or 6 miles in. When chasing elk for me I want to be able to see no matter what. In 2005 I headed out early to be the first one into this area, where I parked the rig and got out, I did not take 20 steps and had an elk blow out not 60 yards from the truck. Then all the way in I just kept bumping elk. Elk are where you find them and that could mean they could be standing right there.

In 1995 we were heading down to one of our better spots and it was still dark. My father pulled the truck over and started waiting for the sun to come up, we thought he was crazy, as trucks and 4 wheelers kept passing us and heading into the area. When we could see he started heading down the road and we did not even make it down to the spot when dad said there they are. We pulled the truck off the road and ran towards the drainage they were coming up and ended up shooting a great 6x6.

bearklr's picture
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tough one

This is a tough one.  I typically like to get to my spot well before daylight and let the other guys walking around move the animals.  However, with us staying in Routt this year I've never trekked those woods so going in in the dark may not be an option.  I don't know what that area looks like from the ground in the daylight let alone in the dark.  After the first day or so after I get some coordinates and see it first hand I may change my mind but I have a feeling opening day may be a stalk in at first light.

hawkeye270's picture
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ha

bearklr wrote:

This is a tough one.  I typically like to get to my spot well before daylight and let the other guys walking around move the animals.  However, with us staying in Routt this year I've never trekked those woods so going in in the dark may not be an option.  I don't know what that area looks like from the ground in the daylight let alone in the dark.  After the first day or so after I get some coordinates and see it first hand I may change my mind but I have a feeling opening day may be a stalk in at first light.

I will thank you after you push one to me on opening morning then lol I guess I'll have to return the favor though and maybe we can plan a push or something. ha

Ca_Vermonster's picture
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Considering how vocal elk

Considering how vocal elk are, and if you are hunting them at the right time (rut), how well they respond to calls, I would not want to be in position until I was sure it was legal light.  I would leave early if it meant getting to my spot early, but I wouldn't necessarily get there ahead of time.

With whitetail, I am in my stand at least a half hour early, to let the woods settle down before shooting light.....

Bull Buster's picture
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I like to be at the honey

I like to be at the honey hole before light.  I don't know now many times I have saw elk funnel up the draw before shooting light.  Last year it took 4 days before I could take a legal shot.  The first 3 the elk were traveling up the draw into the black timber about 20 min before shooting light.  Eventually they will slip up unless someone else screws up their routine.

When I'm still hunting along my favorite ridge I like to leave the atv about 5 to 10 min before shooting time.  That way I am to the travel routes the elk take up through the quakies into the dark timber.  On that ridge it is all about timing.  5 min too early or too late and one of two things will happen.  You will either see them go into the dark timber out of shooting range or they will be too far down in the quakies for a clear shot .

numbnutz's picture
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For me it depends on weather,

For me it depends on weather, moon phase, pressure. I will typacally wait till legal shooting light to start my hikes. but again if i can pattern them and there heading into the timber before light i will try to sneak in befor and wait for them. I have even snuck in 2 hours before just to make sure i wouldnt bump any out of the area. I will also go the round about way and not take there same travel route. my goal is to get infront of them. I have also waited and trailed behind them and moved very slow. there are just too many factors to say one works better than the other.

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Location: Centennial, Colorado
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It depends on conditions

I have to agree with the conditions numbnutz stated and also add that it depends on your setup. If you have scouted your setup well you should know when you need to be there. If you haven't then I would wait for shooting light to start.

This year I scouted 28 days during the summer including 10 days of carrying an archery buck and fall turkey tag to scout and fill a muzzleloader bull tag. Because the weather forcast was for +89 deg days, I decided for opening morning on a saddle that was being used to travel from the feeding grounds to the cool dark timber. It was also 5.7 miles from my truck and 3.5 hrs of burning up my legs hiking too it. I left my truck at 3AM using the 2nd night of the full moon for light. By shooting light I was within .25 mile of the saddle watching the elk cross the saddle into the dark timber. I missed them by about 20 min. I decide to stay with the setup for the day and called in and passed on 3 bulls before setteling on a bull that came out of the timber with 7 cows about 4:30 in the afternoon to return to the feeding fields in the neighboring private property. In this case I should have been there before shooting light to get the elk, but I could have slept in and hunted up to the saddle at first light using the thermals that were going downhill in the morning and reach ny spot by 11:00 to get the uphill thermals.

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