Knowing your prey is one thing. Knowing how to find it is another issue altogether. These tips for elk hunters from the experts at Pursue the Outdoors will get you after your target in no time.
When you are scouting you should look for sign along trails, in meadows, near likely bedding areas in heavy cover, and near water holes. Tracks and droppings should be evident if elk have used these areas any time in the past few months. The tracks of a mature bull elk are between 4 and 4.5 inches long without the dewclaws. Bull elk tracks have a square outline in comparison to those of cow elk and domestic cattle (that may also frequent the same area). Elk droppings are larger than deer droppings and are more oblong in shape. The pellets of bulls are often pointed on one end and indented on the other, while the pellets of cows are often pointed on both ends. When elk are foraging on moist, succulent grasses and forbes the droppings are often clumped and look like small cow pies.
When you are scouting look for beds the elk use at night in open meadows, look for beds they use in the day in heavy cover. Look for scrapes in open nighttime bedding areas and heavily covered daytime bedding areas; and wallows near springs, low-lying areas or streams. Look for waist to shoulder height antler rubs (with the bark stripped from the tree) on pine, spruce and aspen trees. Look for broken off outer branches of spruce and brush where the bulls have thrashed the trees. Look for tooth scars (two parallel gouges from the incisor teeth) on the trees in aspen groves. All of these signs indicate elk use in the past, which means the elk may utilize the same areas again while you are hunting.