When it comes to hunting, elk are considered the most majestic creatures. Hunting elk in the winter season is not something you can learn from hunting stories. You can only perfect your hunting with some real field experience. Large elk males can be heavier than 900 pounds.
It’s worth mentioning that elk have a very large kill zone. However, they can still run long distances after getting shot. While a calf is chocolate colored, a cow is light brown in color. A mature bull looks cream colored with a dark brown maine. Elk have impressive antler configurations.
Mature bulls often have 6 or more points on either side. In most cases, early morning bugles can raise your adrenaline levels, and when elk respond to the calling, you will stay hooked on them. Before you proceed on the hunting trip in winter season, you need to conduct a pre-season scouting for the right elk hunt.
Hunting Elk in Winter:
During the winter season, elk need water at least twice per day. Thus, if you are able to find a huge watering hole with some signs, you should keep a close eye on the place. It’s likely that elk will come back after bedding/feeding times.
First and last light of the day are good times to spot these majestic animals feeding. If you are high in place, you should pay attention to moving between strips of timber and pockets. This is the best chance to spot elk in winter season.
If you are hunting lower elevations, you can spot them in open meadows and fields with timbered areas. In case of snowy areas, they may be looking for grazing options in open fields. High quality optics play a very important role in such situations.
When it comes to calling, your living room will be a good place to start your practice. Before the winter season arrives, spend some time on learning bull, cow and calf calls. During the winter season, you will have to make extra efforts to find elk in open areas.
Before heading out, you should have some different calls. Most hunters use mouth calls for the cows and calves, while grunt tubes are perfect for bulls. In order to emulate a herd, it’s better to use different sounds. If there’s only one kind of call, elk will know something’s wrong.
Most hunters have greater success when making sounds with grunt tubes and pipes. Mouth calls are only effective for calves. In the winter season, sounds may echo, and simulate a herd. Thus, you need to make sure you don’t scare away the animals.
Cow calling should be your first choice when hunting in winter season. You should only use the bugle when the cow calling doesn’t work. In case you are able to locate a herd, and have a simple stalk planned out, just move in slowly without a call, and take your shot. In close quarters, you may blow the elk off into the next range if your calling doesn’t work.
The winter season is dry and cold. Therefore, scent management is also very important. Since open meadows and high elevations are the best places to hunt elk in winter, you need to understand how scent works on the animals’ psyche.
It’s always better to use a fall blend spray to cover your human scent. You can also use some scent soaps. It’s important to wash your clothes with a high quality scent removing detergent. You should attach the scent wafers to your clothes. This simulates the smell of elk.
Last but not the least, winter season requires proper field management. An excellent way to determine if an elk is a 6 point is to look at the rear end of the bull’s antlers. If you notice a crab claw, the bull is a 6 point. When the crab claw is larger, the bull is bigger. In fact, you can also consider the antler size’s proportion to the body size.
In case the antlers seem too big in proportion to the body size, then it’s a shooter. Tine length and main beam length can give you some good points to score. Similarly, if the antlers seem like they go way down the elk’s back, he is a shooter. If the elk seems white in color from a distance, it’s likely a mature bull.