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5 Must Have Pieces of Elk Hunting Gear

Don't forget these five things on your elk hunt.

You've finally done it. You managed to save up enough preference points (and enough cash) to go on an big time elk hunt. The list of gear and equipment you'll need to bring will be a mile long.

Check out the five things we know you've already thought about, but want to make sure you don't forget.


If you're lucky enough to hunt the elk rut, be prepared for your mind to be blown and your adrenaline to spike. Elk are very vocal animals. Whether they're calling out of aggression, to locate other bulls, or to gather and move their herd, elk will often let you know where they are with their communication techniques.

Get in on that communication by bringing along a handful of different calls. A simple-to-use cow call for mews or whines can be a very effective tool to locate that satellite bull, or distract a herd bull if you find yourself in close proximity to a larger herd.

While cow calls serve their purpose, few things work as well at locating a bull as a bugle call. These tend to be quite loud and when used properly can solicit responses from bulls even at great distances.


Especially for the first time or inexperienced hunter, ensure that you identify calls that you're comfortable with and are easy to use. The Primos Hoochie Mama hand call is a good cow call option for those who struggle with diaphragms and other mouth calls. Many options are available for grunt tubes and bugles as well as other cow/calf calls. If possible, try a few options before you make a purchase.


A well used decoy can mean the difference between pulling that bull into bow range or having a disheartening 80-yard standoff. A simple and effective choice is the Montana Cow Elk decoy. They're are incredibly lifelike and their collapsible frame make them a breeze to carry.

Montana Decoy

Simple but effective, having a hunting partner hide behind this attractive cow elk decoy will be the perfect distraction to bring that trophy in close.

Game Bags

We know you've thought of this, too, but we'll remind you just in case. Once you do make that pivotal shot and follow the blood trail to your newest man cave decoration and a freezer full of meat, you'll need to get it back to camp. Here is where having game bags will come in very handy.

There are countless game bag options available on the market. We like these lightweight Ovis Sacks options. The primary thing to consider when purchasing game bags is to buy the correct size. If you're hunting big game like elk, some sort of extra large game bag will be very valuable. The last thing you want to do is force yourself to take extra trips or carry more bags than you must.

If you can't stand the idea of buying a high quality game bag, consider using old pillow cases. Just remember, you won't be able to fit much in them, so bring a bunch.

Proper Footwear

This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, but we so often hear horror stories about this that it's worth repeating. Proper footwear is absolutely critical when hunting the mountains for big bugling elk.

Bring two pairs of boots and alternate them every other day. Even regularly worn boots will have different pressure points and wear spots. Alternating between the two will allow your feet to rest and recover from those pressure points.

Never go on a hunting trip with a new pair of boots, at least not a pair that you've worn around the house or the yard for a while to break in. Bring a couple solid, worn in, lightweight pairs of waterproof boots and you'll have such a good experience you'll want to write us a thank you letter.

And let's not forget about socks. You'll want to bring socks. Lots of socks. Throwing an extra pair of socks in your day pack to switch out can add a lot of life to your feet. Climbing up and down those peaks and valleys of the mountains will quickly wear in your socks. An extra pair in your day pack to change out after sweating or crossing that stream will have you feeling comfortable all day long.


Again, this one might feel like a no-brainer, but with all your efforts on remembering each piece of equipment and gear, don't forget to fuel yourself.

Having enough clean water to fill your bladder for each hunt will be crucial. Dehydration can have a devastating effect on your hunt. This is especially true at higher altitudes where we're often hunting elk. You simply cannot drink enough water. And don't forget a water filtration device like this bottle by LifeStraw.


Similarly, when hiking the hills, your body will require extra fuel. Finding lightweight, high energy snacks to throw in your day pack will make your hunt much more enjoyable. Your body will thank you more and more as each day and each hunt adds up to take a toll on our bodies.

For quick hits of energy in a easy to pack format, check out these GU Energy Gel packs.

Like what you see here? Click here to read more great hunting, outdoor, and shooting articles by Reid Vander Veen. Also, check him out on Twitter @ReidVanderVeen and on Instagram.

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5 Must Have Pieces of Elk Hunting Gear