Elk Stank Question

Muley_Stalker

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This is getting silly. Ok, elk smell nothing like cattle. They just smell like elk.

I know elk when I smell them. If you've never smelled elk. You're on your own to figure out what that smell is.

I'm done unless i'm quoted. Don't quote me.
 

Salmonchaser

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Hello, I am 0-4 on self guided elk hunts but still trying to connect the dots. My last hunt was a rifle cow tag in WY 24. Talking to other hunters, they said they were seeing elk in the timber and that a still hunt may be a good strategy. I'm not super skilled at this but gave it a go.

As I was working my way through, I suddenly hit a super sour elk smell that was as strong as any kitchen or bathroom smell at home. I froze. I couldnt see it but the smell was strong. Two minutes later,still frozen, I heard what was something large running away and I never got a look at it.

To help me learn more about what happened, I had a couple questions: how close do you think you can normally smell an elk? Does the strong smell indicate bull vs cow or do they both have a strong aroma? To the skilled/experienced people can you smell a cow from a bull? Is this rare or common in still hunting (ie to smell em before you ever see em)?

Thanks and have a nice weekend, Paul
Regardless MT. Muley and Muley stalker pissing on each other I think you have the elk smell thing figured out. You know cattle so you won’t spend too much time sneaking up on old range cows which isn’t bad practice. They can get pretty wild in wolf country.
As a strategy hunting until you hit elk smell would be foolish. As a tactic you’d be a fool not to respond to elk smell. Depending on circumstances they could be some distance away but given wind doesn’t always travel as straight as an arrow they are probably relatively close. Since you can’t fly, terrain will dictate how you interact with the wind as you hopefully keep it more or less off your bow. Just as wind swirling to take your scent to the elk, it can deliver it to you as well. From my perspective my hunt strategy for the day changes the moment I make elk scent. I work that until I figure it out.
You are going to bump elk if you hunt them very much. They are just a whole lot better at not getting stuck then we are at sticking them. It may be small consolation but the numbers in most public hunting areas are typically 1/4 to 1/5 success rates, So you are average, but trying to learn it’ll get better.
I love still hunting, I hate sitting on stand but I kill a lot of elk on stand. Your report didn’t indicate how you responded to hearing the “elk“ crash off. I was taught as a kid to go as hard and as fast as I could after them. The but is: they need to be leaving as opposed to simply walking off because they know something is up. It worked better when I was younger and could really cover ground.
Over the last 56 elk seasons I’ve come to realize the elk are using their ears more and more, an errant foot fall and a dozen sets of ears turn in my direction at 400 yards. Thought I was being quiet and certainly well practiced. I know I don’t hear as well as I used to but I can’t be making that much noise. I got hearing aids and discovered i made more noise then i thought. I also missed a lot that I didn‘t hear. Hearing is an important sense for you as well as the elk. I can’t believe how much different being able to hear again is while hunting.
Good luck next year
 

Dougfirtree

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So if I want to describe the smell of sumac, should I say it smells like cedar?

There is no other smell, that I would say closely describes the smell of elk. If you hunt elk, it won't take long to figure out what they smell like. Kind of like a learning curve, I guess.

And I am very unimpressed by the author of the Go Hunt article, but many "how to" authors don't know how to themselves these days. Elk don't smell like cattle.

What smell would you say describes a pronghorn best? :)
I've pondered how to best describe the smell of elk (other than saying it smells like elk). I get why people compare it to cattle. There's a barnyard quality to it, for sure, but there's a bit of deer mixed into it too, like the smell you get from a deer's glands. All I know is that when I smell it, I get excited.

Man, it's been too long since I've hunted elk...
 

gouch

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I found a spot once where a herd of elk had spent some time recently. There were spots of pee all over the place. The Bull must have been in a bad mood because every bush and small tree had been torn up. The smell was pretty over powering, and I like the smell of elk. The elk were nowhere to be found but hadn't been gone lone. I came back five days later and the smell was still strong but there was no sign the elk had been back. So now when I smell them it gets my attention but I don't assume the elk are still close.
 

Muley_Stalker

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Let me add this little tidbit. From the RMEF. I think they know elk pretty good.

Quote:

"Elk have a pleasant, distinctive smell, like a Jersey calf on a fresh pasture."
 

MTTW

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Let me add this little tidbit. From the RMEF. I think they know elk pretty good.

Quote:

"Elk have a pleasant, distinctive smell, like a Jersey calf on a fresh pasture."
That is because most of the elk are bedding in cow shit in the pasture. The elk on the mountain still smell like elk, not cattle.
 

Redman

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Aside from what ever elk smell like. The OP was close very close to an elk. He said he grew up in WI. Most likely hunting whitetails. Being from the Midwest myself I can reflect back on some of my first Western hunts. Part of the learning curve was actually seeing the animals. All the sign, sounds and smells where there but my eye wasn't trained on finding the animals. I was used to looking for whitetail deer in farm fields and hardwood forests of the Midwest. I remember hearing a cow chirp for the first time and seeing the tall green brush move but never actually seeing the elk. My brain didn't make the connection...it hadn't been trained for the different territory and animals I was hunting. My imagination had elk big standing in the wide open. I needed to learn to look for parts of the elk not the whole thing.
I have had new hunters and non hunters driving with me and I have stopped the truck to admire deer right off the road and they cannot see the animal until I describe what to look for and then it is like wow there it is.
Long winded I know but I believe alot of people coming from different places/terrain hunting new animals miss seeing alot and have even walked right past them unknowingly because they are not taking the time to look for parts of the animals or over looking places based on not understanding what and where to look for.
 

Muley_Stalker

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Easy to do with a muley. They'll hunker down and let you walk right by them.

A spooky whitetail would be doing 30 mph.

Elk are also pretty calm if they don't smell you.
 

kansasdad

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Pronghorn smell like pronghorn...

I commented that pronghorn smell like Fritos to my son who was starting to break down my doe. He leaned in and sniffed, and said he agreed. But that was with his nose about 1 inch from her ears.

If I could take a stab at describing what an area that is currently housing elk, or recently did smells like ......there is definitely a base smell of hay stored in a barn, with notes of urine mixed with ”digested” food. But unlike smelling new cow manure it doesn’t smell “wet” and slap you in the face with an acid acrid burn-your-nose sharpness.

(And the next chance I get, I’ll check to see if it smells like Fritos by his ears).
 

mtmuley

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Antelope smell like Fritos... Hmmm.. I have a bag of Fritos in the pantry. I'll check. :) mtmuley
 

bullbugle307

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The first time I heard Rinella say they smelled like Fritos, I thought, no they don't. No way. How could he think that?

So the next pronghorn I killed I paid attention. Standing up over a dead pronghorn they just smell like pronghorn. I have no description of that smell. But then I put my face right up to the hide and hair and took a deep whiff and I'll be damned, they do kinda smell like Fritos.
 

bullbugle307

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One thing I would add to the concoction that makes up a bull elk smell is pine pitch. When I got my bull mount back from the taxidermist, the rutty bull elk smell was gone, no doubt washed out of the hide. But she left the antlers as they were, no cleaning whatsoever. My living room smelled strongly of pine for like a year after that. I kinda wish that smell hadn't gone away actually.
 

Carl 9.3x62

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One thing I would add to the concoction that makes up a bull elk smell is pine pitch. When I got my bull mount back from the taxidermist, the rutty bull elk smell was gone, no doubt washed out of the hide. But she left the antlers as they were, no cleaning whatsoever. My living room smelled strongly of pine for like a year after that. I kinda wish that smell hadn't gone away actually.
I have found elk sheds that smelled heavily of pine, and I too was sad when that smell went away.
 

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