I think one of the major mistakes that gun and bow hunters make when they’re hunting elk is they don’t think before they move. When I hear elk bugle, the first thing I do is bring my binoculars to my face and go through the following checklist:
- Where can I see the elk, and can he see me?
- Where is the bugling coming from, and what’s the bull doing - feeding, bedding or walking?
- Which way is the wind blowing?
- How can I approach that elk without him seeing or smelling me?
- How can I see or hear any cows that may be with that bull?
- How can I make my approach to the bull without the cows seeing or smelling me?
- Which way are that bull and his herd traveling when they get ready to leave the spot where they are?
I mentioned earlier that I hunt aggressively. So, I start moving toward the bull and bugling, as I’m walking. But I don’t hunt aggressively until I’ve gone through this checklist. If you allow the bull to smell you before you arrive, you won’t take him. Or, if the cows smell you before you can get close enough to get the shot, they will spook the bull. Too, if any of the elk in the herd see you, then the hunt is over.
Yes, I hunt aggressively, and I move as close as I can get to the bull, trying to make him mad enough to fight as I go to him. However, I don’t disengage my brain and start running straight at the bull. I try to reach the place I’m planning to hunt at least 1-2 days before the hunt to scout - whether I’m hunting for myself or for friends or family members, to find the elk before the day of the hunt. Too, I want to spend 1-2 days with those elk, so that I know the directions they come from, and where they feed, water and bed. Then the day of the hunt I know where those elk usually will be and when, if they’re not disturbed on the day we start the hunt. I also want to know about the wind’s direction for 2 days. Once I gather all this information, I feel very confident going straight to the bull bugling and trying to pick a fight with him.
Tomorrow: Avid Outdoorsman Terry Drury on Mossy Oak’s 30th Anniversary