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Hunting elk requires a lot of time, effort, and preparation before hitting the field. However, when your hunting trip goes to plan and bring home your prized elk, all the hours you put in are definitely worth it. To help you increase your chances of hunting success, here is a list of must-have gear for elk hunting. With attire recommendations to important legal documents, you’ll be all set for the elk hunting season.
Must Have Gear for Elk Hunting
A Hunting License
In most states, to legally hunt elk, you are required to hold a hunting license. Each state has its own requirements. This means you may have to obtain a separate license if you plan to hunt in multiple states. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can help you find out the requirements of your state. Alternatively, you can head to Reserve America and choose your applicable state on their Fishing & Hunting License webpage.
Wearing camouflage attire when hunting gives you a better chance of concealing yourself from your prey. A full head-to-toe camo outfit, including camouflage pants, jackets, gaiter, and cap, allows you to blend into your surroundings and disguise yourself from approaching elk. When choosing your camouflage attire, match it as closely as you can to the terrain you are hunting in.
Blaze Orange Vest
Depending on the state you are hunting in, blaze orange vests are required when elk hunting. This is for your protection to warn other hunters of your presence. You can wear your camouflage clothing underneath with a blaze orange vest over the top. You can find out the blaze orange requirements and how much your state requires you to wear by checking with either your hunter safety program or your local DNR.
Blaze orange vests do not hinder your chances of a successful hunt, and they don’t cancel out your camouflage attire. Elk lack red cones in their eyes, meaning that they can't tell the difference between red, orange, yellow, brown, or green. Any blaze orange attire you wear appears yellow to an elk.
To learn more about hunting safety courses, read this article.
Sensible footwear is essential when it comes to hunting. In most states, elk season starts in late summer and extends through winter, so you are likely to encounter a range of weather conditions. Elk typically inhabit mountainous regions and dense forests, so you need footwear that can withstand extensive hiking.
Your hunting boots must be made from a waterproof material. It is especially necessary when hunting in the winter due to the cold temperatures and adverse weather conditions. Waterproof hunting boots not only keep your feet dry but are also breathable, guaranteeing a comfortable temperature for those long hunting sessions.
Investing in a reliable elk caller is a great tool for drawing elk in while hunting. Even for beginner hunters, they are easy to use. Make sure you practice with your elk caller before heading out on a hunt to familiarize yourself with the device. It’s also a great idea to take out multiple calls on your hunt, as different types have a different sound that may work better in certain situations.
Two of the best times to call elk are during and just after the rut season. The peak of the rut period runs from mid-September to mid-October. The elk rut is the mating season when the bulls go in search of cows.
Trail cameras record footage of wildlife when you are not around. Many hunters use them to survey and record the area to see if elk are present while hunting in other parts of forests. If you return and the footage shows evidence of elk in this particular area, you can begin to hunt in that location. This increases the chances of a successful elk hunt.
Trail cameras catch footage in real-time and also detect wildlife movement from up to 20m away, which means if elk are approaching, you can prepare in advance.
Hunting knives are versatile tools when it comes to hunting. They are essential for field dressing once you’ve successfully caught your elk, but they are also handy if you need to cut materials such as rope when out on your hunt.
Opt for a dual-edge blade that features both a serrated edge and a drop or clip point. This offers added versatility, allowing you to carefully skin your carcass and detach connective tissue, as well as perform more heavy-duty tasks, like hacking through tree branches to brush in your hunting blind. Fixed blades are typically stronger, but folding knives are easier to carry. Ultimately it comes down to your personal preference and the tasks you will be using your knife for.
Elks have an incredible sense of smell. It has been estimated that it is 1,000 times more acute than a human’s scent capabilities. With a wind current working in their favor, elk have an even better sense of smell, giving them an advantage against hunters. They have been found to detect scents and odors from over 600 yards away.
With this in mind, you don’t want to compromise the time and effort you have put into your hunt to find that the elk have detected you and been spooked. Using a scent killer on your hunting attire, equipment, and weapons dramatically reduces the elk’s ability to sense your presence. Scent killers typically last all day.
First Aid Kit
Hunting isn’t a sport to be taken lightly. You never know what you might encounter while out in the wilderness, and you need to be prepared for accidental injuries. Carrying an emergency first aid kit around with you allows you to tend to injuries that may happen during your hunt. Ensure your first aid kit includes essentials such as bandages, antiseptic wipes, gauze pads, and latex gloves.
Ensuring that you have this must-have gear for elk hunting will enable you to embark on a safe and successful hunt. From ensuring you have the correct hunting license to practicing your elk calling beforehand, you’ll be prepared for an exciting session out in the wilderness.
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