One of the biggest mistakes I made when I first started hunting elk was taking a stand behind a big brushy tree. I thought if I was behind the brush then the elk wouldn’t see me when he came in but rather would walk straight to me behind the brush and stop perhaps 3 feet from me. All the elk had to do next was to step out to my right or my left, and I would have a perfect bow shot. However, being that close to me, the elk probably would smell, hear or see me, turn around and run straightaway from me - not giving me a shot. I learned that you had to know your camouflaged clothing made you invisible, and that your camo was working.
Today I always try to stand in front of a tree when an elk is coming to me. Then when the elk is in bow range I want to already be at full draw, pointing my bow right at the bull. When he presents the shot, all I have to do is barely touch the mechanical release on the string.
Being required to trust my camo is the reason I hunt wearing Mossy Oak camo. If I’m guiding friends or family members, I’ve got to know that they trust their camo patterns enough to have only a large brush or tree behind them. Then when the elk come into the gun range, the elk won’t see them.
I’ve seen some bowhunters make the mistake of being on their knees when elk come in, thinking if they’re lower to the ground, then the elk is less likely to see them than if they’re standing up. However, when you’re on your knees, changing positions to get a better shot is almost impossible. On your knees, you can’t move either left or right when the elk is close. But if you’re standing up when the elk is close, then when the elk looks away, or his head goes behind a bush or tree, you can move slightly to get a better shot. Also if you’re wearing odor killer, and the wind is in your face, even if the elk sees you but hasn’t smelled you, you still are much more likely to take that elk, than if you’re on your knees and have to make a bigger move to take the shot. Most gun hunters don’t spot nearly as many elk, since they’re generally from 100-300 yards away when they prepare to take this shot. But if you’re a bowhunter and get an elk in really close, all you want to have to do is touch your mechanical release to take the shot because the elk is so close.
Tomorrow: Look Before You Run to Elk