Thursday, October 15, 2009

Elk scouting 2010

Because of school and family commitments I managed to miss just about all of the 2009 archery elk hunts here in Idaho. It was the first year I have not hunted elk since I got out of the Marines, and boy, do I miss it. We are spoiled here to have over the counter tags for elk and I don't have to wait six to ten years like I would in Arizona or New Mexico.

It is never to early to start dreaming and scouting for next year, however. Now, I have my own little honey hole I like to hunt most years, but I really like scouting via maps for new areas as well. It is wise to have a backup area or two because your primary area might be closed for fire or be crowded once you get there. I have had both happen, though thankfully my area didn't actually burn down.

So where to start looking on a map? I have come to really like Google Earth. It is almost cheating in some ways. If you keep in mind that elk need three things and you search for those things, you'll likely find elk. Water, food and security. Water is easy to spot on maps, most lakes, streams and rivers are labeled, but finding those out of the way springs, that's what we are looking for. They are usually not labeled on Google Earth, but look for a bright green spot, sometimes it'll be just a seep that never amounts to a stream, and other times it's the headwaters of something larger. If it is at least a mile from the nearest paved road, it's time to tear down the area and see if we can find some nearby food sources. These will be the open meadows and parks, and they are color keyed differently on different types of maps. Now if we are looking at an area a ways away from a road some of the elk's security has been taken care of, but they also need an area to bed down in. Elk are by nature are gregarious creatures and they will not necessarily bed in the same local day after day, so the best odds are finding several dark timbered north facing benches scattered around.

Not my video, but a good, solid introduction on finding elk. Fella has a great user name by the way. So check it out and go start scouting and dreaming of next year.

No comments: