1. First Lite's Ryan Callaghan: A Perfect Bugle is not a Real Bugle
No Perfect Bugles, in fact the bulls are often sounding like they haven’t properly warmed up yet. So why are you ripping that bugle like your in the final round of the elk calling championships? This time of year especially after the sun has come up I switch to short and often less than melodious notes. This (in my mind anyway) mimics a bull of any size calling half heartedly as they transition from feed to bed, or a bull in their bed. Think “I’m here but I’m not interested” if you’ve spent much time in the woods you’ve heard this. As you either follow your bull to bed or you manage to get ahead of them (I personally have never outrun an elk) the mood will start to change, and so should your bugle. You’ve stepped into their bedroom, now get them pissed.
2. First Lite's Ryan Callaghan: Get Loud and Rowdy!
Locate and Rake, or Speak Softly and carry a big stick. Often you will find bachelor groups or lone bulls early in the season. If you are not worried about blowing the elk out of the country and are willing to "take them to bed” I find these bachelor groups are the equivalent of an unsupervised high school team on the practice field, they are more than willing to display their prowess (spar, rake trees, and talk loudly to each other) despite the “game” not being on for a couple of weeks. After you have located your bull or bulls, determined your approach via wind direction and cover. Get in the middle making as much noise as you would if you were a bull. This time of year if you’ve followed a bull to bed there is almost without exception rubs, stinky beds from the previous evenings or wallows all of which are great spots to set up. Position your shooter in a spot with several shooting lanes then get back and make like a bull. Rake a young tree with a stout stick until its in splinters paw the ground with the toe and heel of your boot, I even do some heavy breathing through my grunt tube. Bulls will often come in silent just to check out the commotion so keep your head on a swivel and don’t get too caught up in the act.
3. First Lite Pro Staffer Darren Choate: Triangulate the Ungulate
Regardless of the date on a calendar, elk move to and from three core resources during their daily routine: 1) bedding areas, 2) feeding areas and 3) water sources. Additionally, elk tend to take a direct route from one resource to another. When connected, these three core resources and direct travel corridors that elk utilize on a daily basis form a triangular shape. Although, use of these resources and travel corridors may change on a daily basis — and throughout the year during normal migrations — these “elk triangles” can be used by hunters as a means to predict elk movement and increase the chances of a successful harvest.
I was introduced to the concept of elk triangles by a US Forest Service (USFS) wildlife biologist. His ability to identify core resources utilized by a given population of elk was uncanny. As I grew to understand his abilities, I saw the practicality of the theorem as a tool to improve my own scouting techniques. After several years of application, my elk hunting/guiding success rate increased dramatically. Learn more about the Triangulation Theorem on Darren's blog here!
4. First Lite Pro Staffer Kendall Van Dyk: Get It Done Before the Rut
Early season archery hunting can be frustrating. You'll likely contend with heat, bugs, sweaty smelly clothes, and I even had a buddy who tried to sit on a rattlesnake a few years back. But remember, later in the year, that herd bull may have 20, 30 or more cows with him. The odds of peeling him off or even getting in on him without getting busted are not in your favor. The pre-rut and early rut may be some of the best odds at a legit herd bull. As my friend Dave down in Wyoming says, to kill an elk with your bow, 100 things in a row have to go right, the first 99 are easy.
5. First Lite Pro Staffer Tim Olsen: Catch a Rhythm
Given the choice, I'd rather hunt ten days in a row then spread out ten days through out the season because it's really important to create a rhythm. Spreading out your hunts over a month or two means you are really hoping you'll happen to be in the right place at the right time--you might hike into your spot and may see elk but will you have enough time to learn the area, pattern the animals to any degree nor make any adjustments? Now lets say you come back to the same spot four or five days later. What happened while you were gone? Are they still there, still behaving the same way? You don't know. Find a stretch of days where you can live in your spot and become super familiar with your zone and what the animals are doing and you'll be much more successful.