Conventional wisdom on elevation

Bullshot

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Dec 21, 2018
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449
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Two days into the rising sun
Based on most hunting shows, photos of success, and written hunt accounts, I always find myself perplexed by how different an environment it appears from what I had always learned on elk hunting in years past. My remembrance of conventional wisdom was that to find elk you have to hunt high, dense, north facing... until the weather pushes them down to winter range, yada yada yada.

But much, maybe even trending most, of what I actually see are photos of early and mid season elk in desert sage, scrub oak, juniper, and just into the aspen. Ignoring private land ranches, I see this posted all over from public land hunts with I am assuming, a good amount of hunting pressure. Sure, some early bow photos from near alpine, dark timber are always there but lately it seems the minority. I scratch my head at many of these photos, thinking they look nothing like the 9-10K+ habitat that I usually seem to get into. I’d much prefer to hunt in the picturesque foothill/transition areas which are my favorite scenery, but as far as finding elk in that stuff, hasn’t happened for me except watching them while camping and chasing deer in a 25+point unit in NW Co.... But that’s a pretty stark exception. The rest of the time, finding elk out in open country in daylight in early and mid season and not deep fir, spruce/pine forests is foreign to me. But I want to!!!!

Seeking perspective. What gives?
 

Caseknife

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Joined
Jul 1, 2012
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197
Location
NE Washington
They can be found there when they are not pressured. As soon as they get any pressure at all they will
tend to be more reclusive from my experience.
 

Wallydeuce

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Feb 24, 2021
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339
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NV
I hear ya Bullshot. I hunted the high alpine mountains of Utah, usually above 10k ft. Moved to LV, took a 27 year hiatus then draw a tag in a unit with the highest "peak " of 8,500 ft. I'm thinking, "no way "....and to top it off I'm now hunting pinion and juniper. I'm driving from one peak to another and at around 6,000 ft. and a temperature of 93 degrees, I come across a herd of about 60 cows and calves out in the open. Everything I knew "or thought I knew" about elk was thrown out the window.

Same last year. I hunted archery bull where I used the sound of heavy trucks driving by on US93 to mask my approach. That's how close they were to the highway. Again, at around 6,000 ft. Weird.
 

Salmonchaser

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Joined
Nov 12, 2019
Messages
744
Had to follow him over the hill because of a sub division behind him, public ground about 2000’ elevation. Hunt em
Where they are👍
 

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ZBulls93

New member
Joined
Aug 11, 2020
Messages
12
Elk, like you and me, like what they like and don’t like change too often unless it’s forced. Dry farms can often produce some true monster bulls, even if the elevation is only 6000’ as mentioned earlier. Good luck!
 

hank4elk

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Joined
Jan 8, 2015
Messages
4,686
Location
SW NM
Most folks forget elk were plains animals until 200 or so years ago,give or take. Lots of cover in vast undulating lands. Distance becomes the cover.
Growing up in Tule elk country I had to learn to them hunt in the mountains. Never did draw that local tag.
I adapted. Learned to scramble over 11k ridges and thru the woods for them.
On one of those vacation/quick look/scouting trips to the SW with the lady in tow she asked "What are those elk doing down here in the mesa's & PJ's?" Duhh....I dunno,but I'll find out....

30 years later I'm looking across a grass valley between those flat 8k' mesas. My house sits in grove of Pinion and Juniper, shade & cover. The breeze cools me off here ,near the base of a mesa.
I'm watching the herd move into the "Timber".
They have come back down from the 10k' mountains 20 mi away where they had gone to find more food,water,cover. Now the food & water is here. Plenty of cover too.
 

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