Backpack hunting for elk....

trophy_killer

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Just curious as to how many of you elk hunters pack into the backcountry with your tents/sleepin bags and all the goodies to hunt elk. Starting in 2005 this is the only way I will be hunting for elk. This is just a survey to see how many people do it and what they think about doing it.
 

Horn Seeker

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TK,

That is what I love to do. My partner and I have packed in for the last three years and are getting damn close to getting an elk, gotta happen next year.

WE pack in for about 8 days at the beginning of bow season, then if that doens't work out we usually do a couple of over nighters the next few weeks, maybe two nighters.

We pack in anywhere from 5-10 miles. Its awesome, dont see another soul where we go and there are quite a few elk, but I just have a problem hitting the bastards with my bow!

Its great!

Ernie
 

trophy_killer

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Cool Ernie, sounds awesome. I'm just curious how you first decided to try an area. I'm sure you use TOPO maps but what do you look for when looking for areas that will hold elk. I'm not farmiliar with being back in 5-10 miles. Also, about how much do your packs weigh?? I'm slowly gathering information and ALL help is greatly appreciated.
 

T Bone

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Backpack hunting is most of what I do. Nothing better.

It can make getting an elk out without spoiling in 85 degree temps interesting, but worth it.

2 miles in will get you away from 95% of other hunters. Study the topos and the elk will be there.
 

Moosie

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I need to get more involved in the Backpacking Topics
I need to get my lazy butt out more !!!

I think I'm making this the year I make more backpacking trips.. If nothing else I want to do a 5 dayer for deer this year. I know some good areas and just need to get back into them.

TK, not to be rude, but what are you planning to do ? Not go back in yourself are ya ? Is your dad gonig with ya ? Backpacking is not only fun.. But hard work. I dang near killed myself (OK not really) last year. There can be a few mistakes made.

I'd say start with a short 1-3 miles MAX and do 1 over nighter, You'll learn alot on jsut a trip like that. Remember that in the Winter it's alot tougher then in the summer too. After august you can have snow ANYIME in the hills. plan ahead !!!

Now that I babbled, I know that it takes 4 trips for a mature Elk to get it out the hills, then you have your gear on top of that... So remember that !!!! Try it with deer first or few backpack, non hunting trips...

Don't mean to sound discouraging or negative, I know guys do it. RAYBOW, HORN SEEKER, and T-bane do it every year and are DAM successfull at it !!! It just takes tough guys is all I'm saying !!
 

Elkhunter

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Looks like some good advise on here. I have never done it. All of my trips have been for the day. I now camp in a camper and ride in on a horse every morning.
 

bulldown

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I'm slowly purchasing the goods this year. We are planning to pack in further into our area. Mainly because to get where we want to be at day light, it takes a little over 3 hours and a hell of a lot of walking.

Can't wait to listen to the bugle activity during the night. I think it will key us in on what the elk are doing and where they will be.

My only concern is the bears! I saw plenty of bear crap and bears this year in the area. I would hate to have one check me out in the middle of the night. Might take some getting used to.

bulldown
 

BigHornyRam

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Bulldown,

Nothing like having a bear walking around your tent in the middle of the night to get your senses working! Lots of fun!

Paul
 

schmalts

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I have done it, one time i went in about 4 miles at about 9500-10000 feet. The area sucked due to the fact atv's were close by. ( they drove most of the trails i hiked to get in)So it was a lot of work for a camping trip.I did not know it was an ATV area so it was my fault. My advise is plan an area and scout it out first before the season to make sure its worth the work. One cowboy i talked to was out there rounding steer and said the area was full of elk before the holiday weekend and the ATV's came and they all went over the mountain to the private land. I know he was telling the truth cause the sign was all over.
The elevation is bad enough but put on a 50-70 lb pack and it gets worst. Thats another topic, stay light. My first year was at least 12lbs of crap i really didnt need so i would trim down on the comforts of home a little more next time.
 
D

Deerslayer

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TK...to answer your Topo question.....you want to look for roadless areas in good elk country. If folks are seeing and killing lots of elk, you know it's good elk country, then you take it a step farther a do your best to get back in away from the crowds......2-5 miles...you can bet the elk are doing the same. Look for drainages mostly.....they have the water elk need...some with open areas like meadows or mesas or sage hillsides near by are great. You also want thick steep forest for cover and security to hold the elk there, preferably with an easy more open slope on the other side they can feed into at dawn and dusk.

Key on roadless areas, drainages back in with a diversity of terrain....thick to more open, and hunt the edges.

You just have to get a feel for a spot and go check it out. It won't take long to know if it's a good one. Don't be afraid to move to a plan B and move your location a little ways.....sometimes it only takes a mile or so to make a big differnce.

Buzz was bowhunting a spot this year for 2 or 3 weeks without much luck. I went back in with him and moved him over about a mile, and we were literally swamped with bulls! He arrowed one the next morning, after we had 5 or 6 bulls within 50 yards of us the first day. Sometimesa small adjustment is all it takes......so don't just sit in a spot for a week just because it easier to do that than move.

Good luck!
DS
 

Lostagain

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Some people say its the only way, others say its just crazy. I think you ought to try it and see for yourself. Personally, I like to go as light as possible, set one base camp and then spike camp out of there. Don't be afraid to spike out to new areas, or to even follow the elk further from the base. You can cover a lot of country but remember too that elk are also closer as well as in deep.
 
D

Deerslayer

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1 pointer.....somewhat, kinda depends on the map. You can tell between forested and open areas, and I have a few maps that show aspen patches with green and white dotted, while the heavier forest is solid green. Sage flats and hillsides will usually show up as white, but so does a lot of private land on some maps. So you kinda just have to know what each map represents....but you can't tell exactly what kinda trees, but usually can distinguish between forested, open areas, private land, public, and on some maps, even aspen patches and scrub can be distinguished from the evergreens.

So I guess your answer is yes and no
 

Horn Seeker

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In 2000 when my buddy and I packed in about 5 1/2 miles for 8 nights we Trudged in with 85 pounds on my back and about 100 on his. It was great, but we HATED having to come back to camp every night, or have to walk several miles to get to a spot we found the day before. So....

Between 2000 and 2001 we started aquiring lightweight gear and learning how to get out there for several nights and hunt with our camp on our backs. By Sept. 2001 we had nice little packs (I have a Badlands 2800 and he has a Kifaru Spike Camp) that we felt comfortable hunting with at 18-30 pounds, depending on how much water and food we had along.

My wife had our daughter in Mid September that year so we didn't get out enough, but we did get out for two overnighters. We hunted 2 straight days with our packs on our backs, covering between 10 and 26 miles a day. Never killed a dam thing, but had a few close encounters and learned a lot.

Well, this year we were ready big time. More new gear and better food ideas. Our packs loaded down with water were about 27 pounds and we were ready for 3 or 4 nights out. Opening light we started hunting in to where we wanted to be. We ended up hunting into a total different area chasing bugles, but didn't worry because we didn't HAVE to be anywhere by dark! Anyhow, we stayed out hunting for 4 days, then boonied out, hit the town for a night and headed back in again for 4 nights.

We would commonly have elk bugling near camp at night and first light. It was great. I missed two big bulls (#$%$^#%^#%$%#^^#$%) and almost had a chance at a monster, Andrew had two very close encounters with nice 6 points but never got a shot.

I would love to have a good spot to hunt near a road, but I dont. I feel like the farther you can get from people the better. I prefer to not only backpack up a trail away from a road, but through the woods away from a trail! I also prefer wilderness, then I know I'll never have a prob with ATV's.

I love to talk about backpacking for elk, but I gotta get my girls some dinner!

PS.... my first back pack trip was into the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness in 93 for work. We had to work all summer in from 9-25 miles from the truck. I went into that with an old 70's frame pack and NO experience. It was an eye opener. I had lots of outdoors experience, just not backpack wilderness experience.

Good luck
 

trophy_killer

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Thanks for all the great tips everyone!! Moosie, I plan on going with a good friend of mine. I know that I need to work up to it. This coming season I plan on doing an overnighter with a friend of mine once, maybe twice. I will from there slowly work my way up to getting to elk for a long period of time. Thanks again for all the responces!!!
 

KC

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trophy_killer:

Two pieces of advice from someone who has done a couple hundred backpack trips since 1960 and several dozen multi-night backpack hunts.

First; GO LIGHTWEIGHT. Your pack should weigh less than 35 pounds including food/fuel for a three-day-two-night trip, not counting your weapon. You will have to spend some money on ultralight gear and you will have to leave some things at home that now you think you just have to have, in order to accomplish this goal.

Second; ARRANGE TO HAWL OUT YOUR GAME WITH HORSES. Arrangements should be made in advance. Either arrange to rent horses or arrange to pay an outfitter to come get the meat.

All other advice is less important than these two items and other procedures are a waste of time if you ignore this advice. You can be macho, make yourself miserable and maybe even convince yourself that you are having a good time.
I know, I've been there done that. But you are not a mule. So don't try to do what a mule can do much better.

Next I suggest that you learn to backpack first. There is an endless list of lessons and tricks to learn. Don't try to LEARN to backpack while you are hunting. Get backing down first. Then combine backpacking with hunting.


KC
 

Horn Seeker

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I like KC's advice. Andrew and I are having horses ready to pack out meat at one locale we are hunting, and goats ready at another locale. Screw packing 1 or 2 bulls out 5+ miles on our backs.

yes, lightweight. Like I said, we were just as comfortable in 2002 with our 30 pound packs as we were in 2000 with almost 200 pounds of gear.
 

ELKCHSR

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DS, HS, and KC all have very valid points..
The onlly thing I can ad to any of it is to start slow and learn what works best for you and what doesn't. Taking off for the first time for a week will be a very miserable experience...
 
D

Deerslayer

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TK...if you can't get horses lined up, don't sweat it. Just be prepared for a couple extra hiking trips in and out. You can bone out the meat to managable portions, and could easily get a boned out animal out on your back.....just would take and extra day or so hiking in and out..but hey, you'd still be pumped about the kill so it would be no biggy, right?!
 
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