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How To/Pro-Tips

Bugling for Bulls

There is nothing as thrilling as hearing a big bull's whistling bugle, except having him answer your bugle to him.
However, there are ups and downs to bugling. It can drive away a bull with a harem of cows because he doesn't want competition. It can also chill smaller satellite bulls if you come on too strong. For these reasons, it often pays not to sound like the biggest bull in the woods. Both dominant and satellite bulls are more likely to investigate your bugling if they think they have an advantage.
Don't bugle from the obvious places such as along roads or at the end of trails. If there is much hunting pressure at all, odds are good that other hunters have been calling from these very spots and that the local bulls know about it.
As the season wears down, use bugling as a locator call. Bulls will often answer a bugle even if they have no intention of going to it.

Protecting Your Elk Hunting Investment

Elk are second only to deer in popularity among big game hunters. This fact is not lost on many folks who live in elk country and make some portion of their living supporting elk hunters.

Unfortunately not all of them are honest or able to provide a quality experience. Bad experiences are guaranteed from actual crooks and cheats. However, sometimes an individual who provided good service in the past falls on hard times and lets things slide.

Your best protection is in client references. Beware any operator - drop-camp, outfitter or guide - who will not provide you with a list of recently satisfied and widespread clients. "Recently" speaks for itself, but why widespread? Some shady operators create a great but bogus reference list. The best reference possible is someone you know who has hunted with a specific outfit.
As for ranches, contact local game wardens, Forest Service employees or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agents to get a true feel for the quality of that piece of private land.

Cutting To The Core

Sometimes my plans to ambush a buck do not work out. Usually this is when the season is winding down and I'm running out of time. Under these circumstances, hunting him in his core area is my last, best hope.
For such a risky plan to work out I had better know this buck very well. I start out still cautiously hunting the fringe of his core area, usually where a trail enters or leaves the area.
I consider invading and hunting in the core area itself a last resort and I do not resort to it unless conditions are just right. I go in knowing that I must be ultra-cautious and cause as little impact or disturbance as possible.
I figure that, once in, I have one, or at best two, chances to take the buck and I want to maximize those chances. A big, wise buck, late in the season isn't going to let you get away with much.

Booting Up for Bulls

Elk hunting involves walking, often in rugged terrain. Stout boots with high-traction soles are highly recommended. However, comfort is critical.

Consider the season in which you will be hunting and pick an appropriate insulation level. If you think you will be on stand a lot in cold weather, you'll need more insulation than if you will be walking most of the time. It's hard to stay out with miserably cold feet.

Also consider boot weight, particularly if you intend to do much hiking. A few extra ounces on each foot can feel like a ton halfway up a mountain.

Carry an extra pair (or two) of socks in your day pack and change socks during the day. Sweaty socks get clammy and cold and also promote blisters. Using a non-scented foot powder helps with the perspiration issue.

At the same time you are getting yourself in shape for elk season, get your new boots well broken in. A blister is a cheap way to ruin an expensive hunt.

Hot-Weather Hunting

One of the greatest challenges in deer hunting is how to make something happen in hot, dry weather. This is a common condition during early archery seasons and in the early part of many gun seasons.

Deer are already biologically preparing for winter and a significant warm snap makes them very uncomfortable. They don't move much and try to keep cool. The later in the season the warm weather occurs, the more it depresses deer movement. Nocturnal movement increases because nighttime temperatures are cooler.

Be out early and stay out to the very end of shooting hours to take advantage of cool temperatures. Oddly enough, midday movement may be slightly enhanced if deer have moved all night long. This isn't a great deal but if you have limited hunting time it's the best deal you've got.

When movement is down, hunt near known bedding areas. However, hunt the fringes and trails leading there. Deer are easily disturbed when their actual bedding areas are invaded.

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