Elk Distribution in Rocky Areas

tomengineer

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I'm doing some last minute second guessing on an elk archery hunt coming up September 10-17. I've been reading up on elk behavior during September as it relates to feed and temperature and elevation etc. I'm looking at an area that I hope is less traveled than other areas of the state in question but was wondering if I could get some input from those more experienced than I. The area I'm looking at has a large primary ridge with adjacent finger ridges at right angles with peaks that are high, steep and rocky (no alpine meadow). That is it would be difficult to travel from one draw to the next within this network. There is a transition from basically steep rock area to timber at lower elevations within these relatively narrow draws. I'm likely off on my topographic nomenclature here but basically there are a series of long and narrow draws with green floors separated by rocky ridges. Do elk occupy these types of areas during summer and through mid-September? From what I've read the ideal would be a "mosaic" of timber and meadows with adjacent water and multiple easy escape routes etc. I'm willing to walk the distance (wilderness area) but not if the consensus is this type of area will likely be devoid of elk. Thanks for any advice you might have.
 

Ben Long

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Think like an elk. They want to stay cool, have lush forage (grass and browse), find water and avoid predators (you.) During the rut, they also want to party. I would say if the terrain is too rocky to have enough soil to support forage, it probably won't hold elk for very long. But it doesn't take much. If there are microhabitats (little pockets of terrain) that are lush and have groceries, they are worth exploring. Avalanche chutes and headwater cirques (basins) often provide this in September. North-facing slopes tend to have more shade and moisture. During the rut, bulls will be where the cows are and cows will be where their calves can benefit from lush forage. And avoid predators (people). If you can find a place where you can glass and listen early and late in the day, you may save boot leather.
 

tomengineer

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Elk are where you find them! Doesn’t sound like a place that would be void of elk. Remember on the ground hikability (new word) can often times be way worse than a map leads you to believe.
Yeah good call. There are spots where I can likely glass up into them mornings and evenings to hopefully save my legs.
 

tomengineer

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Think like an elk. They want to stay cool, have lush forage (grass and browse), find water and avoid predators (you.) During the rut, they also want to party. I would say if the terrain is too rocky to have enough soil to support forage, it probably won't hold elk for very long. But it doesn't take much. If there are microhabitats (little pockets of terrain) that are lush and have groceries, they are worth exploring. Avalanche chutes and headwater cirques (basins) often provide this in September. North-facing slopes tend to have more shade and moisture. During the rut, bulls will be where the cows are and cows will be where their calves can benefit from lush forage. And avoid predators (people). If you can find a place where you can glass and listen early and late in the day, you may save boot leather.
Thanks for this. Yes I’m seeing some small meadows interspersed with the timber so maybe I’ll try to glass or call up into these areas to see if I can.
 

MtnElk

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Elk are where you find them! Doesn’t sound like a place that would be void of elk. Remember on the ground hikability (new word) can often times be way worse than a map leads you to believe.
Oh man, that'll be the new buzz word on the influencer inter web pretty soon. Better trademark it!
 

tomengineer

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It’s not even a fine line. I know nothing about elk hunting I’ve only been twice. But I’ve seen bulls in both Idaho and Wyoming in the terrain you describe. They’re still there 😀
Yeah this will be my first elk hunt so I honestly wouldn't mind just locating elk, observing behavior, calling them etc. My biggest concern is just walking around for 7 days and not getting into sign or animals and thus learning less than I might have.
 

JAG

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Alabama
Is there any chance that these areas contain couloirs or avalanche chutes? If so, the snow scours out old growth and elk forage on the new growth.

Download Google Earth and you can cycle through additional satellite images taken at different times of the year. Spring/summer photos help the chutes 'pop' with green if the feed is there; if not then you know for certain it is barren scree. Fall and winter images are browner and can either be rocks or vegetation going dormant.
 

tomengineer

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Is there any chance that these areas contain couloirs or avalanche chutes? If so, the snow scours out old growth and elk forage on the new growth.

Download Google Earth and you can cycle through additional satellite images taken at different times of the year. Spring/summer photos help the chutes 'pop' with green if the feed is there; if not then you know for certain it is barren scree. Fall and winter images are browner and can either be rocks or vegetation going dormant.
Yes they certainly do. They also have some small visible meadow areas amongst the timber. Good call on varying the Google Earth imagery I hadn't thought of that thanks.
 
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SAJ-99

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E Washington
Is there any chance that these areas contain couloirs or avalanche chutes? If so, the snow scours out old growth and elk forage on the new growth.

Download Google Earth and you can cycle through additional satellite images taken at different times of the year. Spring/summer photos help the chutes 'pop' with green if the feed is there; if not then you know for certain it is barren scree. Fall and winter images are browner and can either be rocks or vegetation going dormant.
Above is great advice. Some avalanche chutes can be all rock. Some can have quite a bit of forage. You should be able to look at satellite images and make an decent guess. I like to flip between topo and satellite picture to find flat areas that might have food. The topo give some clues on how steep it might be. Of course, when you get there it may look way different that the picture you drew in your mind. :)
 
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2rocky

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1661353809150.png
If the Aerial looks like this, yeah there are elk...But they have to cover a lot more ground to find feed and cover. Focus on the best feed water and cover. My Father swore he saw an elk up on the top of a talus ridge top (far right.). Couple days later he killed this bull down in the meadow below there.

IMG_8743.JPG
 

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