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Hunting elk is a trip of a lifetime for many. There’s an art to hunting; finding that prized animal takes skill, patience and a little bit of luck. With the right preparation, you too can have a successful elk hunt. Here is what you must do before you go on your first elk hunt.
Learn Hunting Safety
Before you do anything else, you must take a safety course. Most states require a safety course as a prerequisite course before you receive your license. Trained experts will guide you through the safety rules and answer any questions you may have regarding hunting and the rules that your particular hunting ground entails. You should also learn all hunting laws and regulations; hunting laws vary from state to state. You can always find the most up to date information on the state’s website.
Get the Right Hunting License
Buying a hunting license is the next step in prepping for the hunting trip. The money you pay for a hunting license supports wildlife conservation in the U.S. This is great news for you; paying money to hunt means you’re supporting the preservation of the land and the game that you hunt according to the Pittman-Robertson excise tax. Your hunter safety course will provide more details on the specifics of your hunting license.
Plan Your Hunt
Don’t go into a hunt blind. Invest in the right gear now and lay it all out ahead of time so that you can account for what you have and how to use it. Air out anything like sleeping bags, tents and anything else that needs freshening up. Ask experts at a hunting shop for all of the gear you need including guns, ammo, first aid and clothing.
Elk hunting requires a lot of physical aptitudes. You’ll be walking and stalking all day from early in the morning to late into the afternoon. You will also be carrying pounds of gear over varying terrain. Hunting elk takes time, so you will exert yourself for several days while tracking that prized elk. Bulls have a lot of energy and they’re good at steering clear of danger. Avoid fatigue be getting in shape. Spend time on the treadmill and stair master at your local gym. Carry weight on your back equivalent to what you’ll be carrying and lift weights regularly. This will better prep you for the hunt and make it more enjoyable.
Rarely does anyone shoot an elk on their first day, and if they did, that wouldn’t be any fun would it? Elk hunting takes a lot of patience—days of trekking, hours of silence and missed opportunities may abound. When you hunt, you have to be aware of tracks, droppings, rubs and wallows. While you may not be able to see an elk the first day, you can track it by learning the signs of its presence and use the patience of an investigator to hunt out clues. Be patient and hunt smarter, not harder.
Be Cautious of the Lead Cow
Contrary to what you might think, elk live in a matriarchal social system. This means that there is one female—or cow—that leads the herd. The cow is generally the oldest and therefore weariest of all of the elk in the herd. She is the most in tune with danger, so if you spook her, the herd will be gone in the blink of an eye.
Hire an Outfitter
If you’re new to hunting, don’t go it alone. Go with a trained professional whose job is to help you during the hunt. A local outfitter knows the land, the weather, and the animals. He or she understands how to hunt in that wilderness, and they can teach you all of the techniques and strategies you need to know before it becomes second nature. Let someone help you so you don’t have to scratch your head and wander around in circles.
Your first elk hunting trip should be exhilarating. Follow these tips and you’re sure to have success!