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#3121324 - 01/10/18 09:26 AM Want to do my first cow elk hunt
Iamjuggernaut Offline
Seasoned Member

Registered: 04/23/17
Posts: 127
Loc: Arizona
Hi guys novice big game hunter here. I like the thought of meat in my freezer more than a trophy bull so I figured a cow hunt would be a good intro to elk hunting. Iíve never hunted for elk before. Do you have any pointers


Edited by Iamjuggernaut (01/10/18 09:26 AM)

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#3121332 - 01/10/18 10:08 AM Re: Want to do my first cow elk hunt [Re: Iamjuggernaut]
DesertRam Offline
Moderator

Registered: 04/26/01
Posts: 8002
Loc: Las Cruces, NM USA
Ah, the good ol' cow hunt. I'm an unrepentant cow hunter and have been fortunate enough to take about dozen myself and lead my older two kids to two apiece (so far).

TboneAZ of this site has been very successful hunting cow elk in AZ; hopefully he'll stop by and impart his wisdom as well.

Have you hunted other big game before? What kind of experience and gear can you draw on?

Long shot perhaps, but consider teaming up with other hunters who have hunted elk before. Elk hunting can be a time and gear intensive pursuit. If you can tag along with an experienced hunter or two, you'll have access to knowledge and gear. This will help you learn how you like to hunt elk and what kind of gear that requires. You can walk and stalk, hike way back in, drive around, glass and stalk, and so on. Lots of methods that require different skill sets and gear.

Research draw odds and success rates for game units in which you have an interest. Talk with the game and fish about those units and first-timers. Focus on units that have relatively decent draw odds and success rates, at least to start.

My experience is mostly with later season cow hunts after the rut. Bulls are in hiding and the cows are grouped up in herds of 10 to 50, sometimes more. If you get a chance to visit the areas you're interested in during the approximate seasons, you can get a feel for the areas elk like to be. Scout for good sign (tracks, droppings, travel lanes, feeding areas, bedding areas, and so on). Be out moving at first and last light and try to actually see elk. Where are they coming from and where are they going? Can you get between where they are and where they want to be? Can you spot elk feeding in areas that are stalkable? Can you determine where they bed, and if so, can you still hunt those areas with a realistic chance of sneaking up on them?

One of my favorite ways to hunt late season cows is to find fresh tracks in the snow early in the morning. Those are usually tracks of elk going to bed. Assuming the wind is right, get on those and follow. Many times you can catch up to slow moving elk while they're still puttering around in the trees. Elk will often browse their way to bed, so they'll be up making noise. If you're a decent stalker, you can sometimes follow along and ease within range of the feeding herd before they make it to bed, where they lay quietly and alert.

That's just a start. There are many ways to chase cow elk. The hardest part is getting a tag in a unit with a decent population that will give you several opportunities to screw up, then finally get it right. smile
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"A person is smart; people are dumb panicky dangerous animals and you know it." K as played by Tommy Lee Jones, Men In Black

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#3121371 - 01/10/18 12:50 PM Re: Want to do my first cow elk hunt [Re: Iamjuggernaut]
Iamjuggernaut Offline
Seasoned Member

Registered: 04/23/17
Posts: 127
Loc: Arizona
Over the past 4 years I have put in for javelina and white tail with no success. Mostly due to a lack of scouting. Just bought a nicer set of binos then I was previously using and thatís encouraging me to get out there more scouting for an upcoming javelina hunt next month. What kind of gear is typical for an elk hunter?

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#3121375 - 01/10/18 12:54 PM Re: Want to do my first cow elk hunt [Re: Iamjuggernaut]
Iamjuggernaut Offline
Seasoned Member

Registered: 04/23/17
Posts: 127
Loc: Arizona
Iím pretty new into the game. I tagged along with my dad when I was younger and he was a relatively successful hunter but unfortunately he doesnít get around too well anymore

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#3121809 - 01/11/18 05:09 PM Re: Want to do my first cow elk hunt [Re: Iamjuggernaut]
AZMIKE1 Offline
Seasoned Member

Registered: 07/26/06
Posts: 309
Loc: Scottsdale
I would suggest looking up when the Arizona Elk Society is having one of their seminars. They are usually in the summer after you know if you drew a tag or not. For gear you should have a good backpack to start with since packing out an elk is 4 to 5 trips at least. I too prefer cow hunts for several reasons, the meat is delicious, a tag is easier to draw and success rates are higher. Where in AZ do you live and where would you prefer to hunt cow elk?

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#3121998 - 01/12/18 08:04 AM Re: Want to do my first cow elk hunt [Re: Iamjuggernaut]
Iamjuggernaut Offline
Seasoned Member

Registered: 04/23/17
Posts: 127
Loc: Arizona
I live in Phoenix. I was thinking munds park area just because every time Iím in the area I see them. I also would mind Payson area but I hear there arenít nearly as many in that area

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#3122008 - 01/12/18 08:46 AM Re: Want to do my first cow elk hunt [Re: Iamjuggernaut]
WyYoteKiller Offline
Die Hard Member

Registered: 09/15/13
Posts: 505
Loc: Wyoming
I'm a cow hunter myself, mainly due to the seasons being longer here in WY. Most bull tags are good for 2 weeks, starting on Oct 15th and that's the week I'm shipping calves. I would certainly try and find a hunting partner, the real work starts after the gun goes off. I'm pretty lucky to have horses, so I'm not limited to my feet to retrieve my kill.
I find the BLM's enforcement lacking here, but our local sheriff's deputy does video and forward atv'ers off roads and they are charged. It has little effect, but there are some learning. An ATV is a good tool, if an established road is near the kill. A mountain bike with one of those baby trailers is also a handy tool for packing out.
The elk here are so bombarded with call happy hunters, they nearly run the other way when they hear one. If you don't see elk making that noise, don't do it. If you are limited to public ground, get ready to see lots of hunters. Bow hunting is one way to limit your "hunting pressure."
_________________________
Earth First!!!!! I'll trap the other planets later

After 8 years in the infantry, fighting for your right to burn the flag, I have only one thing for you before you light it up. Wrap yourself in it first!!!

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#3122092 - 01/12/18 01:37 PM Re: Want to do my first cow elk hunt [Re: Iamjuggernaut]
DesertRam Offline
Moderator

Registered: 04/26/01
Posts: 8002
Loc: Las Cruces, NM USA
Gear?

Good boots, you'll have some hiking to do.
Clothing to suit a variety of temperature conditions. If AZ is anything like NM, you could start the day at 10 degrees and be in near shirt-sleeve weather by mid-afternoon. Be ready to deal with anything Mother Nature throws at you.
A decent pack, again for hiking, and hopefully packing out. If you have a decent day pack, see if you can borrow a pack frame or heavier duty pack for hauling. No reason to buy right off. Try a couple different kinds and see what you like. Good packs can be expensive so you want to do it right first time. I also have a game cart that has come in handy for retrieval.
You mentioned your new bino - good. Decent glass is very helpful for spotting elk way off the road and planning your stalk.
Your hunting tool. Are you hunting rifle, bow, or muzzleloader? Whatever you choose, make sure it's up to the task. As mentioned above, opting for a bow hunt might improve your chance of drawing a tag. Tell us what you're up to and we can help provide more guidance if you want it.
_________________________
"A person is smart; people are dumb panicky dangerous animals and you know it." K as played by Tommy Lee Jones, Men In Black

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#3122928 - 01/15/18 09:19 AM Re: Want to do my first cow elk hunt [Re: Iamjuggernaut]
AZMIKE1 Offline
Seasoned Member

Registered: 07/26/06
Posts: 309
Loc: Scottsdale
Desert Ram gives some good advice on gear. If you want a chance at a tag you had better get your application in by the end of the month (paper) or mid February (electronic). Some other things to consider, I like the late rifle season for antlerless elk. Tags are easier to draw since many people would rather hunt in October than late November or December. If you tag out on Friday in October you'll want to get your carcass in a locker or butchered pretty quick since days can get warm. On the late hunt you can help your buddy while your elk is nice and cold hanging in camp. There are lots of elk in AZ, take a look at the draw odds and success rates to determine what unit you want to hunt. Good luck, I was successful on my first anterless hunt back in 1988.

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#3123567 - 01/16/18 11:41 PM Re: Want to do my first cow elk hunt [Re: Iamjuggernaut]
crapshoot Offline
Retired PM Staff

Registered: 03/22/02
Posts: 21020
Loc: Henderson,Nevada,USA
My advice is find someone to tag along with. Always helpful to have help on an elk hunt and can be difficult to find any since most people won't burn extended time off from work when they don't have a tag. My first cow hunt was a solo. Sucked big time. Huge thanks to Kerry Carver for driving several hours to bring ice and help where he could.
This year I had a bull tag and only had 1 friend (ok, so I probably only have one friend) who was willing to burn 2 weeks vacation to help out. I am in his debt and wouldn't of had a successful hunt without him. Helping others is a great way to learn a new style of hunting as well as learning new areas to hunt in.
_________________________
I carry a gun because a cop is to heavy.
Average response time for a 911 call is 10 min.
Average response time for a .45acp is 900FPS.

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#3123576 - 01/17/18 12:19 AM Re: Want to do my first cow elk hunt [Re: crapshoot]
tripod3 Online
PM senior

Registered: 09/27/04
Posts: 7127
Loc: WA
Plenty of good advice, I have an elk kill backpack with everything needed to gut, skin, and quarter by myself and a plastic sled too slide it out but I just opt for the tractor lift to bring it out and load on the truck.
It takes a couple days to cut n wrap then happy coyote hunting.
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Can't Have Good Without Bad

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