I recently had a conversation with someone about hunting elk. This person had never hunted elk and had only hunted whitetail from a tree stand. As we talked, about the differences, he asked if when I hunted elk I tended to pick an area and sit or do I walk and stalk them. I laughed and confessed I wasn’t the best at sitting!
I must admit that I am not much one to sit for long periods of time. I can pick a spot and sit for a while….but then I always get wondering what is over the next ridge. Maybe it’s a lack of patience or maybe it’s just a sense of curiosity, but I’ll often pick a walk over sitting in one place when hunting elk. Here are factors that come into play that help me decided if I should stay in one spot or go for a walk.
- Knowledge of the area: The better I know the area the better Idea I have if it is a good spot to sit or not. When I am unfamiliar with an area I tend to walk more. You can spend all day sitting at a clearing and not see a thing if there is a better clearing right around the corner. Perhaps there is something else not making this a good spot to sit that a quick walk around would reveal.
- Sign of animals: Hunting with snow on the ground provides an excellent way to know if animals have been in the area. Depending on how long the snow has been on the ground, I can really tell if this is a decent area or not. When I decide on a place to sit, I usually spend a couple minutes to check around for tracks or other sign of recent activity.
- Time of day: I try to know the habits of animals and let that play very much into my activity. I’m definitely still learning this, but I usually recommend finding a good place to sit early in the morning and in the evening. Typically I then spend the middle portion of the day to walk around. Elk particularly will feed in the morning and evening and bed down during the afternoon. A good motto to go by is: When the animals are moving, sit. And when the animals are stationary, make your move.
Since I am often hunting public land, my scouting is often limited. Unless you are hunting on private land where you have sole hunting access, you are not able to easily set up trail cameras to see what animals are around. This means that locating animals can be a lot more work. If you are hunting on public land you don’t have the advantage of a lot of really helpful info before you hunt. Locating the animals is the key to success. For Elk hunting, be prepared to spend more time on your feet than on your seat.