Elk Hunting Tips For Beginners

You may think that elk hunting can’t be that hard because after all these creatures are massive and can’t be very hard to miss, but that is certainly not the case. Finding an elk to shoot as well as hitting it can be a lot more difficult than you think at first.

Shooting it may not be the hardest part because that just involves having a good rifle and having good aim, but actually finding an elk may be very difficult. We’re here today to give you some elk hunting tips for beginners so you can be successful in your next or maybe your first elk hunting trip.

Hunt After The Rut

One of the best ways that you can ensure success when elk hunting is to go for your hunt after the rutting season is done. Rutting is of course when elks mate and this period lasts for about 6 weeks per year. The reason that you want to go for your elk hunt after rutting season is because elks will generally be quite tired after this period of intense fighting, competition, and mating. This leaves them weaker and slower which means that you will have a better chance of finding and tracking them, or if necessary chasing them down.

Your Elevation

The elevation at which you hunt at when looking for an elk to mount on your wall is quite important when it comes to being successful or not. If you choose to hunt before or even during rutting season (depending on the laws in your area), you will want to stay at higher elevations because that’s where the elk like to be. However after the rutting season is over the elk will generally move to lower ground because the snow at higher elevations pushes them downhill.

Also after rutting season elk will be hungry and looking for a lot of food to eat. The good quality foods that the elk like to eat will be growing at lower elevations, both due to the nature of their food as well as the temperature. To ensure success make sure that you are hunting at the proper elevation for the particular time of the year.

Find Their Food

Shooting the elk may not be the hard part, but finding one certainly can be fairly difficult. One of the best ways to find an elk, especially after rutting season, is to go wait near their sources of food. One of the favorite foods for elk after rutting is alfalfa so if you can find a filed or patch of alfalfa, you will increase your chances of finding an elk. Another place that elk like to eat at is in shallow creeks or streambeds as they like the vegetation that grows in water. Make sure that you wait downwind from the food source because the elk will never go eat if they smell you.

The Call

Another good way to ensure that you will find an elk to hunt down is by using the patented elk call. Using a cow or female elk call will work the best before or during rutting season because that is when bull elks want to mate, therefore pretending to be a female or cow elk will very likely attract a male. Be sure to study some elk calls on the internet so you can get the volume and frequency of calls right.

On the other hand, if it is after rutting season a bull may not be so inclined to come to your cow call because they just spent the last 6 weeks battling for dominance and getting busy with the opposite sex, however you may still get a response from a bull bugle so try the male call instead of the female call. Using calls is a good way to get a response so you can locate the target, but that being said it does depend on the mood and mindset of the elk in terms of giving you a response or being attracted to the call.

Funnel The Trail

Another great tactic that you can use to find your target elk is to set up shop in some sort of funnel. What we mean by this is that you need to find a canyon or valley where the elks frequent and like to walk back and forth in. This will most likely be a trail that leads to and from different food sources. If you are a good tracker and know what elk tracks look like you can search the valley trails for their prints and the set up shop somewhere near there, preferably downwind from the direction you expect them to be coming at and at a higher elevation than the trail itself.

Be Patient

One of the most important parts of elk hunting is to always remain patient. Any of the above tips are a great way to find elk, but they will only go so far. Elk are big, slow, and cumbersome creatures that may follow more than one trail, also they tend to cover a very large area. You might need to spend a few days sitting in the same spot before you get your eyes and your scope on that prize elk.

Scent & Sight

Elk have good eyesight, great hearing, and even better noses so one of the most important parts hen elk hunting is to stay silent and out of sight. Always wear the proper camouflage and try to stick to the bushes. Also cover up your scent as much as possible. This means not wearing any deodorants or perfumes and even getting a little dirty my rubbing yourself with moss, dirt, or mud to give yourself a natural smell. Furthermore you need to stay quiet and limit movement because loud noises will inevitably scare the elk away.


If you follow all of these tips carefully you shouldn’t have any problems finding an elk. Keep their mating, eating, and travel habits in mind and also be sure to hide your scent as much as possible. Enjoy your elk hunting!

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