My plan is to hunt elk this October, in a general unit in Idaho. Idaho is unique because there are many general season tags that are available Over-the-Counter. The upside to these tags is that they are available without the need for entering a draw or lottery in the Spring. The downside to general season tags is that the season is short and success rates are very low.
This particular hunt takes place in the post-rut period. The post-rut is the most difficult time to find a mature bull elk, because the mating season is over, and they are holed up in thick, dark woods where they can replenish lost calories and avoid hunters.
Having never hunted elk before, but having spent the last couple months doing my homework, the arduousness of the task is not lost on me.
Since this is a public land hunt, during the general season, we need to do plenty of ground-work between now and opening day to prepare ourselves—if we want to have any success of finding elk in October. I am enlisting the Newberg Method for this hunt preparation, because Newberg's sole focus is hunts exactly like this one. His success is predicated on his ability to find game animals on public land, so we are going to take some advice from Uncle Randy on how best to go about that. (Not really my uncle).
Photo Courtesy of John Dunaway
The area we are going to be hunting is not unfamiliar, it is a place we have hiked numerous times over the last seven years. In 2015 we spent a few days during the general deer season in hopes of finding a buck, but the drought-like conditions that year had all of the deer holding low, on private agriculture land.
The one glimmer of hope that the 2015 hunt provided is despite our lack of success in finding deer, we actually bumped a herd of elk. I'm using that as a small indication we aren't entirely on a fool's errand this Fall.
Back to the Newberg Method... Randy's theory on finding elk is simple: "The elk are where people are not." So, you have to be willing to go to the places that the casual elk hunter might not be inclined to go—generally for Randy that means going deeper, further, higher, and steeper than 95% of hunters care to travel on foot. However, finding elk is not as simple as getting away from people, although it's a start. Knowing where to look for elk is based on understanding what their primary needs are during that particular time of the year. The elk are looking for food and security during the post-rut period of mid-October.
In part 2 of this warm-up for elk hunting, we will dive into the Newberg Method for narrowing down the area of a map, to focus your search.