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5 Quick Tips for Scouting Elk

Scouting elk should start now. Here are five tips.


It is that time of year again. We are all getting prepared for our upcoming hunts.

We have tags in our pockets and are just itching to get outdoors. For some of us, we are hunting new areas, which means scouting is a necessity.

It’s going to require quite a bit of work on our part, so let’s discuss five tips that I have learned when scouting for elk hunting season.

What tips did I miss? What are the things that you find most valuable when scouting? Let us know in the comments below.

View the slideshow to see the five tips.

1. Elk are where you find them

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This seems easy enough. It also one of the most difficult things to understand when you are beginning to hunt or pursue this new found passion of hunting.

It is simple, but true; you do not want to waste time with boots on the ground when it is not an area that will hold elk. I live in a state that has plenty of opportunity, including over the counter permits, for hunting elk.

I have told people of places that I have spotted elk and they barely believed me. You need to understand that elk, like humans, have basic needs. If you boil it down to the basics, they need food, water, and places to bed down. The most powerful tool besides boots on the ground is going to be Google Earth. Look for places away from roads or trails that have these three essentials.

2.  Glassing an area

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Once you have selected a few different areas that can hold elk, it is now time to get out and scout the area.

Related:  Top 5 States for Hunting Elk Over the Counter

Western hunting involves a lot of patience. You will first want to sit down with your binoculars or spotting scope at a high vantage point and start scanning the area. I like to do this in a grid pattern.

I break it up into little squares starting with the area in front of me. Elk have lived in these woods much longer that we have, so they know how to hide. While looking, try to spot trees trees. The more you are looking for trees, the more little things will stand out that aren’t trees.

3. Use the Wind

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As we all know, the wind is fickle. We need to learn how to use it to our advantage. If you don’t do this, then even when you aren’t hunting, the animals will leave before you even have a chance to find them.

You need to go slow and take your time. Purchase some Windicator from Cabela’s to make sure the wind is always in your face. This will make sure that your scent is not being carried to the animals that you are trying to find.

Related: Elk Vs. Bison, Who Wins This Fight? [VIDEO]

4. Slow down, and use the environment around you

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We have all played hide and seek. Sometimes the best spots are the ones that use what you had around you.

It’s the same with scouting. You will want to use the shadows to your advantage. Elk have great eyesight and if you skyline yourself, they will see it. This is a skill that is not easy to learn, but once you do, it will be invaluable. Look for natural curves or trees that would allow you to see everything around you, but make it hard for you to be seen.

5. Stay Positive

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I would say the majority of scouting (and hunting) is a mental game. You have to know that some of the hardest times of scouting an area can show great success in the last little bit of time you are there.

It could be a two-day camping trip that seems fruitless until the last couple hours. You will not always have a honey hole. These take time to discover and years of learning an area.

I would plan on hunting the same area for three consecutive years. This will help you to determine what kind of animals this unit holds.

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5 Quick Tips for Scouting Elk