It may seem early to begin prep for elk Season, but with a big game animal like elk, nothing less than the best will cut it.
Elk season varies from place to place. The earliest elk hunting seasons kick off in late August. That may seem like a lot of time, but you have a lot to do! The time is now for big game hunters to check their gear, secure their tags, plot their hunt, and practice their aim! Here are all the things you should be doing now to make that shot.
Apply Now to Win Big
Before anything else, grab your tags! You can’t bag without a tag, and tags are limited. The best elk Hunts come from State lotteries. Lots of western states have already started their lottery applications.
If you live in the following states, you have no time to waste!
Get your submissions in quick if you want a chance at the best tags. Not one of the lucky few chosen in the lottery? No problem!
You can still get an over the counter permit in these states…
Mapping Your Hunt
Now that you know where you are hunting, it’s time to secure your kill count by using technology to your advantage.
Google Earth is a critical tool in your arsenal as you scout out the best locations. An elk needs access to water, food, and cover. An elk prefers wooded areas for a sense of security.
Go over the Google Earth views and see if you can pin down the best possible locations to stake out.
Ensure your chosen site is somewhere you and your gear can stay out of sight of your quarry!
By studying your hunting grounds beforehand, you can make sure you have the right scope for the job. Now is the time to check your arsenal. Are you going to use whatever you have lying around, or are you going to use the best equipment for the job?
If you want to bag an elk this year, don’t settle. If you find yourself lacking supplies, don’t fret. Just check out my blackout scope recommendations and get yourself geared up.
A Scope is No Joke
A hunter is only as good as his gear.
There are few things more heartbreaking than firing off that climatic shot and missing. All that prep and build up only to go home with your hands empty. Make sure your rifle is up to the task.
I have taken elk anywhere from 40 yards up to 350 yards. Having the right scope for the job is priority Number One when it comes to choosing your gear.
An elk likes to hang out in wooded areas, so having an optic optimized for long-range, closed landscape hunting is necessary. Are you having a hard time deciding? Check out these rangefinder scopes.
Now’s the time to be purchasing the pack and boots you will need; otherwise, you will be kicking yourself later.
Do you know what’s worse than missing your shot? When you don’t get to take one!
I have seen so many elk hunts end in failure because the hunter is too exhausted to make it to where they need to be in the first place. So, grab that pack, grab your boots and get practicing!
Ensure you are close enough to your truck to pack light and tough enough to carry what you need.
Plan a few hikes ahead of time to break in those boots while carrying that much weight up steep terrain. Get your gear and your body in gear before the best bulls are bagged.
Endurance is vital here, and elk hunting is not for the weak.
Pick your Partner
Are you a solo hunter or a team player?
There are a lot of advantages to hunting together. Two people can carry more gear, a bigger cooler, and make it farther afield than a lone wolf.
Lifetime lone hunters know that you will be glad you have a partner when it comes time to butcher and haul.
Is your partner a seasoned hunter like you? No problem! Just send them this article.
But what about daddy’s little hunter?
If your ‘pride and joy’ is ready to follow you into the field, make sure they have the gear they need to be successful. If you aren’t sure how much to spend on a junior hunter, check out my guide to kitting out your kids.
Many Hunters make the mistake of only practicing with their guns and scopes.
To properly prepare, you should practice while wearing all of your gear. If you plan to be wearing a heavy pack, it will make a difference to your center of balance and mobility. The last thing you want is to miss that crucial shot because you tripped over your own feet.
The most important thing you can do is dry fire drilling.
Try dropping into position, sighting your scope, shooting off a dry round, and reloading as quickly as possible. You should practice your skills at different ranges to fully prepare for the hunt.
When you dry fire drill, you get a chance to make sure your rifle holds zero. If you are having trouble, check out my guide to zeroing your rifle.
No Time to Waste!
With all that in mind, August doesn’t seem that far away after all!
Time to apply for the lotteries, find the best scope and hit the trails as you prepare for one of the most exhilarating big game hunts America has to offer.
Quiz time, hunter. Have you checked all these boxes?
- Tags purchased
- Hunting site chosen
- Optics purchased
- Gear ready
- Training complete
Check those boxes, and the elk don’t stand a chance. Happy hunting!
Richard Douglas is a long-time shooter, outdoor enthusiast and technologist. He is the founder and editor of Scopes Field, and a columnist at The National Interest, Cheaper Than Dirt, Daily Caller and other publications.