Where should I camp to prevent scent from scaring everything in the area away?

LRH

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My father and I are headed out on an elk hunt this fall up in the mountains of Colorado. We will be hiking in and setting up camp. I'm looking for guidance on where to camp to prevent our scent from running everything in the area off. I'm guessing the top of a ridge wouldn't be ideal but I also don't want to have to climb a mountain every morning for scouting. Thoughts?

Second question, I've read several things about where animals will be in the evenings and most of that talks about the north side of a mountain...is that for shade purposes? Thanks in advance.
 

Greenhorn

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I'd say at least a mile from where elk would like to be, would be a good rule of thumb.

Can't complain enough about guys who camp right exactly where there'd normally be elk.
 

Tufrthnails

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That is some great advice Greenhorn! I've seen plenty of camps in the middle of great elk hunting.


Reminds me of a parking lot surrounded by whiteoaks that I like to slip into after everyone is already in the woods! Does are seriously like shooting fish in a barrel when the white oaks are dropping there. What irritates me is know one is actually supposed to be driving up that far to park, but the GW just really don't care so now it is the norm.
 

wytex

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Elk have wandered right through camp. If you don't camp near your hunting area someone else will. We usually camp near our hunting area so we can hear the elk bugling at night. However we don't use a generator, bring dogs to camp or just ride around on atv's. Elk are used to campers in the forest, they know the sounds of an atv. Have a quiet camp and it won't affect the elk nearby.
 

Eyeguy

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Elk have wandered right through camp. If you don't camp near your hunting area someone else will. We usually camp near our hunting area so we can hear the elk bugling at night. However we don't use a generator, bring dogs to camp or just ride around on atv's. Elk are used to campers in the forest, they know the sounds of an atv. Have a quiet camp and it won't affect the elk nearby.

Agree. To some extent. But they do not like human scent. Period. We camp in an island stand of thicker timber along a stream. We have water close at hand but it is still .5-.75 miles from the base of the mountain. The trees will contain human scent to a degree but the distance is the key factor I think. We are close to the action but not too close to scare everything off.
 

Backstrap

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Finding a great hunting spot is hard, but finding the perfect camp spot near the hunting spot might even be harder! In the bottom is darned cold. Ride tops, too windy. Water close by is great, but don't camp too close and run the elk out :/

Some areas have so many camps it probably doesn't matter but in my areas in Montana very few camps and a poorly placed one will certainly move elk into the next drainage.
 

Speeddmn

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I am in the same boat. I have a great spot to hunt, and "base" camp is down the hill....4 miles. Hunting partner and I think a spike camp would be best. The best water source is down a deep ravine, like way down! There are a few springs that hopefully will maintain water during the hunt. We are headed back up and will scout some more for a good spike camp spot, but I know I want to be in the .5/.75 mile away, maybe a bit more, just depends on the water I think.
 

hank4elk

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I usually camp out of my truck and at least a mile from main target area. A couple spots I will bivy overnight.
But I hunt right from camp out. I have them in & around camp all the time too.
 

rmyoung1

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I'm in the at-least-a-mile-from-camp group, as well. I, too, have had elk come through my camp, but this is more the exception than the rule. By and large, when a camp is established in a place frequented by elk, those elk find another place to frequent. Not long ago, I was hunting a place in CO that's been very good to me. I hit the alpine meadows in the late afternoon following a 7-mile hike to my camping spot and then another mile up to the meadow. Previously, I'd been very successful finding elk in this location, but this time I found a guy's tent right in the feeding area. Elk sightings that week were few and far between. The guy in the meadow didn't do any good either. Just one example. I'm sure every public land elk hunter has a few of those to share.
 
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Jamen

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I was going to ask this question awhile back and feel this is a good thread to do it. What do you guys do about camp fire smoke? Do you even build a small fire if so do you wear certain clothes when sitting by it? Maybe the animals do not care about that smell on your clothes, I was just wondering what everyone else does.
 

James Riley

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I agree with much of the above, especially when it comes to finding a camp right in the middle of where the elk would be, but-for the camp (usually complete with horses, quads, late night laughter, cigar smoke and male bonding).

Aside from the human dimension, I hunt evenings, patrol all night, hunt mornings and then sleep during the day. I find the steepest, gnarliest, nastiest slope where all you find are squirrels and birds. That is where I sleep and also where I put my harbor site/stash. It's usually a southern exposure for the sun's warmth when I'm not moving. I don't pay too much attention to wind because it's always changing on me. I take precautions (chlorophyll, etc), but after a week or two the elk are used to me snooping around anyway and, as a general principle, not killing them or scaring them. If I find the bull I want and everything else works out, it's too late for him to realize I actually am a threat.

Sometimes I'll hunt in the day when trying to sneak up on a bedded animal but it's rare. In short, camp where they are not, day or night. You can usually find areas they have no reason to be in.
 

James Riley

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I was going to ask this question awhile back and feel this is a good thread to do it. What do you guys do about camp fire smoke? Do you even build a small fire if so do you wear certain clothes when sitting by it? Maybe the animals do not care about that smell on your clothes, I was just wondering what everyone else does.

I don't use fire but not because of smell. I think they are used to wood burning. It's cooking smells I would avoid. But wouldn't use fire unless I was freezing or had the hypothermy. It takes the animal out of me.
 

JLS

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Find a spot at least a 1/2 mile away, and preferably downhill. Nighttime thermals will carry your scent down a valley, and if you are downhill you are not polluting the area where they are feeding. Over a ridge is even better.

I don't worry much about smoke. If they can smell the smoke, they also smell me. I've had elk wander right through camp, and personally don't think that this had a very large effect on elk movement. I think letting them smell you when you are hiking in/hunting has a much larger effect in my personal experience.
 

Big Tex

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Early on I planned extensively where my camp site should be, Practiced noise and scent control, etc to minimize possible detection. The last few years I've hunted with some buddies out of a spacious wall tent with horses, wood stove, 4 guys hanging dirty clothes and the elk have tolerated a lot more activity than I would've ever thought possible, and every year we'be had elk wandering past camp within 100 - 200 yards despite all the commotion. Even shot a nice bull that was losing his mind one cold morning so close that we left our bacon and eggs cooking on the stove as we went after him. I'll be back out on my own again this year and my old paranoias will surely kick in, but deep down I know that if i so happen to set up too close to where they want to be its not the end of my elk hunt.
 

MTGomer

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I was going to ask this question awhile back and feel this is a good thread to do it. What do you guys do about camp fire smoke? Do you even build a small fire if so do you wear certain clothes when sitting by it? Maybe the animals do not care about that smell on your clothes, I was just wondering what everyone else does.

Better to smell like smoke than a sweaty man. In September the air also smells like smoke from wildfire. I think it's the best cover scent you can have.
I've been on multiple hunts where elk came right by our fire.
I typically cook with stove so I don't usually start a fire, but if I need to I don't hesitate to do it, as far as scaring game goes.
 

vanish

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Last year was our third year hunting a particular wilderness location. We set up camp about a mile from the "action". We've had a couple of other people hunt through before, but on our second weekend last year, within 50 yards of where I had called a bull in opening weekend was two wall tents occupied by nine hunters. That was a bit of a turn off!

We sucked it up and packed out of the area after the uneventful day's hunt, and took an elk at Plan B the next day. :)
 

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