Interpretation of elk scouting findings

dmarsh2

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Mar 13, 2019
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I'm particularly perplexed after today's scouting trip up to the unit I'm hunting first rifle elk this year. As a quick disclaimer, I'm a greenhorn - though it's my fourth season elk hunting, I've yet to even set eyes on an elk with a gun in hand. This year I refuse to get skunked, and I'm putting the miles in. I'm just trying now to make sense of the sign I'm finding, and was hopeful some of the experienced folk here could offer insight.

So today's finding was an obscene amount of scat - I'm talking probably 100 piles or so along this ridgeline. I kept finding very dry piles (it would crumble if you pinched it) with fresher piles (the pellets would break, but not crumble) right in the same spot. The scat being in pellet form makes me think it's from this past winter, as some of the fresher scat I've found is still in 'pie' form, with the greener diet these animals are on right now. The other thing that makes me think this is wintering ground is the fact that there aren't really any prominent trails through the area, so the elk may have been in the area and dropped the scat with heavy snow on the ground. It's also a pretty nasty beetle kill, so I'm not sure if that also plays into how dry the ground is / if trails can form or not. The thing that's confusing is that the elevation here was between 9500 and 10k feet. I didn't think that was an elevation that elk would winter at? Does anyone have any thoughts? How might you interpret this and would you let yourself get excited about your first season prospects?
 

dmarsh2

New member
Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
16
Sounds like it might be a calving area, not a wintering ground. All depends on area though, and what the surrounding location looks like.
Never even crossed my mind, thanks! some of it was pretty small so that checks out.
 
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