5 IMPORTANT Boxes To Check Before Elk Hunting

August 06, 2021 | Pnuma Outdoors

In recent years, we have seen a rise in popularity for DIY over-the-country archery elk hunting.  Backcountry hunting has become this new shiny object that’s sexy and everyone wants a piece of it.  Killing an elk is challenging and with YouTube hunters' recent rise in popularity, they make it look easy.  We are here to tell you that it isn’t and that’s why we sat down with Dan Staton from Elk Shape.  Dan spends his entire September chasing after bugling bulls and has an encyclopedia of knowledge (this is true…check out The Elk Collective) when it comes to elk hunting.  He eats, sleeps, and lives for elk hunting. Dan also hosts Elk Shape camps across the nation hoping to accelerate the learning curve in elk hunting for hunters like you and I.  We were able to break-it-down with Dan and identify the "checklist" before you head out for elk camp. 



Everything Hinges Upon Executing A Controlled Shot

Before worrying about nutrition, tightening up the waistline, or spending hours e-scouting, you need to work on perfect practice.  When you have a screaming bull standing in front of you, the first instinct is to get rid of that arrow as fast as you can hoping it goes where you were aiming.  You are also hoping that you will find blood and the elk won’t be far either.

There are a few ways to mitigate this giant risk and execute a controlled shot knowing the animal will not make it far. 

- Check out Joel Turner’s Shot IQ seminars. These can be beneficial to teaching you how to have your own system and controlled shot process.

- Practice under high pressure situations.  Go to your local archery range and get a random stranger to watch you as you tell them exactly where you will hit the target.  Make a wager with buddies on who the better shooter is. 

- Simulate any possible scenario that you could come across by shooting in your boots with your bino harness and pack on your back.  Shoot kneeling, standing, sitting.  Try to eliminate anything that you may not be prepared for. 

- Elevate your heart rate and then shoot.  This can help simulate moving up the mountain chasing an elk.

- Have PERFECT practice and always work on a controlled shot process!



Elk Hunting Is Actually Elk Hiking

This is 100% true… you will hike, and hike, and hike when elk hunting in September.  The factor that will help boost your chances of killing elk will be covering as much ground as you can.  You are always on your feet. Elk hunting is highly physical. A great way to prepare and adapt to this type of hunting is training specificity. 

Some ways to be prepared for this are:

- A backpack is a part of your daily uniform.

- Get back, traps, and shoulders ready.  Adapt to having a backpack on your back.

- Ruck/Train with a similar weight that you’ll be hunting with.

- Strength & Conditioning is IMPORTANT: There are many different programs to follow, but you need to be doing something everyday in the name of better elk hunting!

- Sweat Equity: Hard work will help you be better prepared for the mountains. Put in the time!




Identify Your Expectations

What exactly are you signing up for when you want to elk hunt? You are signing up to work.  Success rates aren't the highest with elk hunting, so if you want to kill an elk, you are going to have to work hard.  You’re signing up to attempt to kill one of the hardest animals to hunt on their home turf and your odds are low.  The hardest thing for many to realize is if they’re okay with signing up for failure. How will you define success if you don’t kill?  Everyone is different and how you define your success is key.  Make sure you check this box before leaving home to head out west. 



Do Your Homework

This box is vital to success.  You need to do your homework and get it in writing.  There are many things to consider when going out west on a DIY OTC Public Land Hunt.  Putting a plan together and spending your time creating your best guess on where elk might be as well as having the ability to adapt quickly can be the difference in killing or not. A few things to consider when developing your plan are: 

-Research on Google Earth or OnX to help create a plan on where you think there are elk. 

- Find out how you will access and navigate this land. 

- Where will you camp?

- Where will you glass if the country is open enough?

- Where will you call?

- Where will you get water?

- You will want NUMEROUS plans written out and ready to go.

- Rely on your homework, not your memory.

- Create your best guesses and understand it can all change. Never run out of backup plans.



Invest & Test Your Gear

Not only is it important to invest in quality gear, but you also must test the gear after it arrives on your doorstep.  It is important to test it with a few dry runs to the local campground, the backyard, etc.… Use this new gear and get it dirty.  Don’t wait till opening day when you get out to the mountains to test everything out.  Be sure to buy the best gear that you can with your budget.  Create a system based on your experiences with your gear.  Find out where it fits best in your pack, break in your boots, and test out your new tent. 



In Conclusion

Did we cover it all in this blog? No, probably not.  But Dan was able to give us the essentials and five boxes that you need to check before heading out west.  These are all their own topics, but we gave you the meat to get started and prepared for your next hunt.  Take these essential items and apply them to what you are doing in hopes that it will better your odds of being successful.  If you have more questions for Dan, be sure to head over to his YouTube or Instagram and hit him up!


Dan's Instagram: @elkshape

Elk Shape YouTube