Public Land Archery Elk Hunting - Lessons Learned

The grand finale of our three part article on elk hunting and our trip from 2017. If you haven't read part 1 or part 2 click through to find them. 

Thank you so much for making it this far! The previous article(s) detailed our decision making process, selecting our area, sourcing the gear, and finally getting out to SE Idaho for an elk hunt to remember. 

This article is going to be short, sweet, and to the point. It's the "meat and potatoes" of our most valuable lessons learned. 


  • Location is key - do as much homework as you can. Confidence in your location means everything. You will hunt harder, longer, and keep a positive attitude.
  • Prepare yourself - Physically/elk calling/gear these are all areas of opportunity, things you can control. Be in shape, work on your calling techniques, and test your gear before you hit the field. 
  • Surround yourself with quality people - a backcountry camp is a special place to be. You want to surround yourself with like-minded people who are willing to work towards a common goal. Also a good idea to hunt with people who enjoy your style, maybe you hike a lot, or are more limited in your reach. Find people that enjoy your style. 
  • Wind - you'll probably read this in every elk hunting article, don't ignore how important it is. Check the wind, it's the number one variable that will blow your cover. 
  • Be aggressive - once you have your wind right, make your move, get in on the elk. Growing up a whitetail hunter this was a hard one for me to embrace, but elk are big animals they don't mind a bit of noise. Also you may not even be on that bull elk's radar until you get close to him (within a couple hundred yards)
  • Call and move - you're mimicking an elk. Elk don't sit in the same spot and call forever, that holds true for bulls and cows
  • Plan your setup - ok you're in his zone, now plan that setup, chances are he's going to want to approach from the uphill side, also get downwind if he can. Another thing elk are freakishly good at is pin pointing sound location, understand he's coming towards where he can either see you, or where your sound came from. Amateur pro tip: make that bull crest over something within shooting range to see you, a small knob or land feature
  • Be adaptable - some of the most successful elk hunters don't harvest elk from the same basin every year. They're willing to cover ground until they find the elk. Elk are nomadic, just because they've been there, doesn't guarantee they'll be there. 

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