We are doing 1st rifle for first time and I am trying to find out what we can expect from the elk. We are hunting unit 66. Are they high? still bugling? what are the temps like at 9000-10000ft? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks
Do you have access to a crystal ball? Anything and everything can be a crap shoot at that time of year. You can have snow or have temperatures in the 80's during the day and 20's at night or lower. By the first season the elk will have been chased by the bow and muzzle loader hunters so they will be getting a little wary, and they should still be bugling but I wouldn't try and call one in.
I personally would get high and do a lot of glassing in the early morning and late evenings and try and figure out where they are traveling from their beds to feed to water and then set up on one of the trails.
Where we are hunting, one side of the valley is pines from valley floor to the tree line which above looks like there is not much green vegetation (aerial photos). The other side is aspens and mix of pines. Should I go above the pines and see if they come up or hunt the aspens? Above the aspens is a very large, open and sparcely treed plateau. You said they should be bugling still, which i am very excited to hear, so how hard is it to sneak up on them bugling. I have a cow tag. Thanks again!
I would personally hunt the aspens where the pines are close. You have to figure that elk need three things. Food, Cover, and water. There is no feed in the pines so they will move into the aspens to feed, as far as water it can be anywhere from a puddle in the middle of a road to a roaring river. If you can find out where the elk are moving from the feeding area to water or to their cover areas you should be successful.
I never worry about water in rifle seasons. There's enough dew that time of year if nothing else like rain/snow.
I would agree with you if we were talking deer but elk need their water. I have watched them travel over 5 miles each way to go get a drink of water and then return to either their beds or feeding area. I watched a herd in Utah two years ago take turns waking down a ridge to a small stream and then back to the top of the hill. Every day some of them would take the same path which led to the demise of 2 of them that year and 2 of them again last year.
I would be their again this year if my hunting partner hadn't had his knee replaced last month to take another 2 elk out of that herd.
Sort of what I meant. They will find water if it's a reasonable distance away. If not they can survive on the dew. In other words. If I don't see water nearby. I don't worry about it as long as everything else looks right.
Hows the weather been this year. 2 years ago you couldnt find a dry spot uner a pine to save your life so there was plenty of water all over. Has it been dry there this year? At the valley floor there is a small stream that empties into the Big Blue, so there is always water there. I have seen a small water hole above the aspens that I would like to sit by, just seems like a real good spot but gonna be a hike for a sea level hunter. Gonna have to start early I reckon.
Hunting can be slow and frustrating if Mother Nature throws a warm hunting season at you. But things can take a drastic turn for the better with the onset of a cold snap. Whether you get snow or just a good, prolonged cold front, the hunting can improve on a dime. But cold whether can also make certain parts of the hunt more tedious. Here are some things to keep in mind when your prayers for cold weather finally pay off.
You can see a your quarry's breath when it is cold outside...