Sharp vision, patience, and physical strength – these are the key advantages you need to have in order to succeed in an elk hunting mission. Elks are pretty clever animals and don’t quite let you aim at them once they listen to any sound around. That means if you are going for archery elk hunting, you need to be as discrete as possible, too.
But in elk hunting, what makes the difference between a successful hunter and a failure? To me, it’s knowledge. The more you get to know about the different aspects of elk hunting, the better is your chance to kill without wasting your time.
In this piece, we will be having an in-depth look at elk hunting to maximize your chance of success. So, here we go!
A Close Look of Elk
The Native Americans call the elk ‘wapiti’, which roughly translates as ‘light-color deer’. They are not that wrong in naming it that as this mammal does look a lot like regular deers, except for its enormous size. It belongs to the family Cervidae – which is the same family of deer.
Commonly known as elk, this animal is found in North America and Eastern Asia. Elks are often seen lurking around rocky areas and forest edges, as they feed on grass and plants being herbivorous.
A grown-up elk can be as tall as 6 feet, while the shoulder can be around 4 to 5 feet tall. The distinctive part of an elk bull is the antler that is simply mesmerizing to see. It’s the most beautiful thing on an elk’s body.
A fully grown elk can be as heavy as 1000 pounds. That means it’s pretty giant, and it will take a lot of effort to hunt down one with beginner compound bow if you are going for elk archery hunting.
Where Do Elks Live In The USA?
Elks are mostly found in Northern America in the United States. Here are some parts where elks are pretty much populated.
Although the native elks were disappeared from Arizona in the 20th century, things are a bit changing nowadays. During the year 1913, 83 elks were moved from the Yellow national park to Chevelon Creek. And this was a success. In today’s time, the number of elks there exceeds 30000 adults, at least.
Colorado is by far the most densely populated area of elks. You can find the most number of elks there. That’s why colorado archery elk hunting is quite popular among archers. Although it is the area with the highest elk count, the herd is decreasing day by day due to some obvious reasons. A number of herds have moved to other places as the natural habitats are getting disturbed by development.
Lack of natural land is pushing these elks towards other areas, hence decreasing the population in Colorado. Regular hunting by humans is also a reason behind this disappearance. Still, this is one of the most populated elk areas in the US. If you have seen some of the archery elk hunting videos online, most of these hunts are done in Colorado.
While other areas are seeing a decrease in the elk population, Montana is successfully maintaining the population over time. North-central Montana and Northern eastern Montana are now seeing a surge of increase in the population of elks.
According to the Nevada Department of Wildfire, the number of elk has been on the rise for the past decade in Nevada. In the last 10 years, the number of elk has almost doubled, exact count at around 18000 today.
According to the New Mexic Department of Game and Fish, there are around 70000 elks now in the state. You can find most elks around the north-central areas of the state. Mostly roaming around the mountains of New Mexico, the elks are also found in the southwest region and the southcentral area of the state. If you are looking for New Mexico archery elk hunting, this is going to be an exciting ride!
As the human density has decreased over time, the number of elk has increased significantly in the Utah region. The growth is pretty rapid, as the study shows from 1975. Today, the number of elk in Utah is estimated to be around 70000, making it one of the most densely populated elk habitats in the US.
Reproduction & Breeding
The reproduction process for elk is really interesting. The bulls (males) tend to lose their antlers every year in the month of March. After a couple of months’ pause, the antler again grows in the month of May for the mating preparation. The breeding season is around late-summer. And in this battle, the older ones with larger antlers typically wins the chance to mate.
So, in the early summer, all the elks slowly move towards the high mountain area, where they can graze on. Now, the cows (females) are going to prepare for mating. In order to mate with a female, the males need to prove themselves in the battle of strength. The males remove the velvet from the antlers and engage in a royal battle to win the female’s companionship.
A female elk have an estrus cycle for one or a couple of days. To get pregnant, a female elk need to mate at least more than 10 times. Once the mating is successful, the female will give birth in the late autumn of the following year.
Each time, the female produces only one calf or, in some rare cases, two calves. The process begins when the female turns around 440 pounds, and the estrus cycle starts. After the mating, when the time of birth nears, the female isolates herself from the rest of the herd and lives an isolated life until the calf is born and grows up.
When the calf is strong enough to roam on its own and safe from predators, only then the female lets her calf go, and she returns to the herd once again. Elk’s calves become like grown-up within six months. After three years of age, the elks disperse from their herd. Males tend to disperse more than females.
The average lifespan of an elk is around 12 to 13 years in the wild. But some of the species face fewer predators and live as long as 15 years.
Physically, an elk does look like a large-sized deer. The shoulder height of an adult elk is around 4 to 5 feet. And the length of its body can range up to 9 feet. The adult male can weigh up to 1000 pounds while the female cows weigh about 600 pounds.
The color of the elk-body varies from pale gray to brown. Sometimes it can be tanned and a bit darker than brown. They come with legs that are slender, and the neck of the elk is pretty thick.
The entire fur color of the elk is darker brown. The elk calves, on the other hand, come with a slightly tawny-brown color. You can see some white spots on the body of the calf until it changes its coat in the month of August each year.
Having a huge antler is a distinctive feature of an elk. The males come with a huge antler, and it can weigh up to 25 pounds. The length of the antler can reach up to 5 feet high. Every main branch can spring up to 5 tines from it. During March and April, the antlers shed and begin to grow again in a week. The new antlers have a coating called velvet.
Females, on the other hand, do not have any antler.
Are Elks Edible?
Elk meat is not only edible but also very tasty. To tell the truth, elk meat is one of the rarest foods that are healthy but equally tasty. That’s because this dark-red meat is low in fat, high in protein, and low in cholesterol. The taste is kind of similar to the beef, and it is quite tender. That’s why it doesn’t need any marinating.
Hunting Elks Across the Year
Although the hunting season is pretty much fixed for the hunters, you can still try your luck at different times around the year to hunt down some elks. Here are the seasons and where you can find elks around the year.
During winter, elks are mostly found in the slopes that are facing the south. Areas that are rich in Pinyon pine, sagebrush, and juniper are the main spots for the elks to hang out. Places with woods in the mountain mahogany, sagebrush, and aspen bark are also quite populated by the elks in these times.
When the spring is around the corner, elks usually moves towards the receding snows on higher lands. During mid-May, the elks usually move towards the higher lands for breeding purposes, and you can find them in the sub-alpine higher lands until late July.
In the summer, elks are seen in the high country terrain. This is because the areas are then rich in grasses, and they can put some fat on their adult bulls and the young ones, as well. So, you can try your luck around there at this time.
Before the winter begins, in the fall, elks slowly move from the mountain areas towards the winter ranges that are in lower-elevation.
What To Pack For Archery Elk Hunting?
So, now that you are ready with your bow and arrow for the elk archery hunt, here are some important items to pack. Consider these as some archery elk hunting tips.
- Binocular: You will need it to look beyond your vision capacity to take a look at the elk. You also need a rangefinder for bow hunting to measure the distance.
- Travel Toilet Paper: Because you never know when nature calls you!
- Solar Phone Charger: You will be roaming around in some of the most remote locations in the forest. So, losing the connection to your phone due to a power-shortage is something that will make you suffer.
- Bright Tape: As you will be going deeper inside the forest, you definitely need to put a trace to get back. So make sure you take a bright tape and put markings on regular intervals to track the path you came through.
- Headlamp: When it gets dark, the headlamp will be of great use for you in the woods.
- Compass: This is highly needed for you to navigate in the forest. It will make sure you never get lost, even in the darkness.
- GPS tracker: Apart from the compass, a GPS tracker will also keep you safe from getting lost. It will also make sure that your dear ones can locate you in case you really get lost in the forest.
- Sharp Knives: When you hit the elk, the knife will work great to ensure its death. Also, it will help you with cutting ropes and branches in your way.
- Camouflage Gear: This is quite important to hide from the elk to take the perfect shot.
- Emergency First Aid: You don’t know when you get into trouble ad accident. So a first aid box is necessary.
- Water and Food: Yes, this goes beyond saying. You can’t possibly starve in the forest, can you?
Elk Hunting Guide Services
While figuring out your own how to hunt down elks in the forest is exciting, it often ends up in frustration due to lack of knowledge. Elk hunting guides can help you out in this case. They can help you in determining the season, the place and also help you in procuring the permits and licenses as well. So, if you can afford it, it’s better to take service from these guides.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. How much is an archery elk tag in Colorado?
Ans. An archery elk tag in colorado may cost around $46 for residents and $100 for non-residents.
Q2. What is the best elk hunting unit in Colorado?
Ans. The best colorado elk bow hunting unit is GMU 27 – Grand and Routt Countries.
Q3. Where can I go elk hunting in Colorado?
Ans. You can go to Moffat and Routt Counties, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, and Ouray Counties for elk hunting in Colorado.
Q4. What is the best time to hunt elk in Colorado?
Ans. The archery elk hunt Colorado season is from the 4th week of August till the end of September.
Q5. How much does it cost to elk hunt in Colorado?
Ans. The cost to hunt a bull will be $56.88 for residents and $516 for non-residents.
Archery elk hunting needs a lot of practice, patience, and following rules and regulations, arrows for compound bow as well. You need to make sure you are physically trained for such a hunt and you are complying with the local regulations in this case.
Apart from that, going for a hunt in the most suitable unit at the most suitable time is the key factor to success. Apart from that, your personal preparation and expertise also play big roles in a successful hunt down of an elk.
We hope this piece here unfolded much unknown information for you. Follow the guides about recurve bow for hunting and make sure you are returning with a large antler the next time you go hunting elks!