Archery Elk Hunters, the Misunderstood Minority

As an owner of Outdoors International I decided to tell folks who visit our site and Facebook page what goes into being successful elk hunters.

Successful elk hunters start preparing just after the season ends the previous year with training, training and more training. I run mountains with weight, ride my mountain bike till I think I’m gonna puke and watch my diet so I stay healthy so I can train some more.  Once warm weather returns I shoot archery tournaments to keep my shooting top notch.  To be competitive, I practice shooting for hundreds of hours…just me and my bow.  

Marc Warnke with his 2011 archery elkNow as elk season approaches, elk hunters begin buying tags and equipment, spending thousands of dollars; which, much of that money goes toward the conservation of the animals I’m pursuing and the surrounding ecosystem. All the while, I still pound the mountain making sure I’m in good enough shape to chase bulls come September. Now it’s scouting time…time to relocate the bulls, it’s hard work but I remain thankful because I’m in the woods with good company.

It wasn’t till my third year that I really felt like I KNEW what I was doing. Archery hunting elk is frick’n hard!!

Marc Warnke 2012 archery British Columbia elk hunt

Now, on to the story of this September and my elk season. Keep in mind, my success this elk hunting season, was only because of the last twenty years of mostly failure in the elk woods. It took me two years, of bumbling, back in my early twenty’s before I got my first bull. I’ll still tell you today, that getting that first bull, was pure luck. Had it not been for luck, I would’ve gone three years. It wasn’t till my third year that I really felt like I KNEW what I was doing. Archery hunting elk is frick’n hard!! Fast forward twenty years, I have harvested around 20 bulls. But I just did the math and, by my best estimate, I have over 250 days in the woods to get those 20 bulls. What we do is not easy.

This season started in British Columbia. We hunted early in the rut and we were in country that was some of the toughest I’ve ever been. The elk were living just slightly below the Mt. Goats. Steep…gnarly…country! I ended up sticking a smaller bull on the fourth day, in an avalanche shoot so steep that by the time I snuck in, my legs, despite all the training, were goo. Luckily with all the practice shooting, I stuck my bull perfectly and brought some of the tastiest elk of my life, back home to my family. Between me and my partner, hunting hard, that was the only bull we had a shot at in 7 days of hunting. Not a ton of reward for a whole lot of work, but I would go back in a second…it was an awesome hunt, in God’s country.

Marc Warnke 2012 Idaho Elk

Now onto our hunt in the states. Between myself and my hunting partners, we only harvested one bull. We spent the last two weeks of the season getting that done. Because of the heat this season, we really struggled. The bulls were just not talking and definitely not running into our calls. As a result of the slow action, we covered miles and miles and miles….and miles in mountainous, high elevation terrain. We all lost weight during the season and struggled with sore feet, sleep deprivation and discouragement. But we stayed and kept on trying…why? Because we HAVE TO. It’s an inner drive that can’t be explained much like religion, love, or commitment. We are allowing our inner predator to be alive and well within us.

Because of Outdoors Internaitonal’s enormous online position we are a constant target of the anti-hunting community. I wrote this article to let them know what it takes to be successful at what we do. I constantly feel misunderstood and attacked. I only request to be left alone to harvest my family’s meat in a much more respectful way than any chicken or cow is, for their family. I do not judge how their meat arrives at their table…I only ask the same in return.


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