Best Time To Hunt
What is the best time to hunt elk? Any time you get the chance! We all know that, but are there some times that are better than others?
Hunt Early and Late
Elk are nocturnal animals, meaning that they are primarily active during the night. This presents a problem for the elk hunter, since we can only hunt in the daylight hours. Given this, the best time to hunt elk is early in the morning, or late in the evening.
Your goal should be to arrive at your hunting location, totally prepared, 15 – 30 minutes before legal shooting time. This means that you will need to wake early enough to prepare for your day’s hunting (or better yet prepare the night before), eat breakfast, and travel to your hunting location. After you have arrived, be as quiet as possible. Most elk have become accustomed to the sound of vehicles, and aren’t overly disturbed if they hear you drive in. However, if they hear human voices or the sound of two legs walking carelessly through the wood in the dark, they will likely move out before you even know they are there.
If you aren’t a morning person, become one. Otherwise, you will be sacrificing some of the best time to hunt that there is.
An elk’s normal routine includes sleeping most of the day in a secluded, difficult to reach bedding area. But in late afternoon, they are on the move preparing for a night of feeding. Elk will first appear in the shade of timbered areas, or on the eastern slopes of ridges as the sun gets lower in the west and begins to cast a shadow. Scan these areas for an opportunity for a stalk. Elk will often go to water soon after rising, so a blind over a water source may be most effective in the evening.
Don’t give up too early. Just because you haven’t seen anything all afternoon, doesn’t mean that the elk aren’t nearby. Often elk will appear during that short period of time between sundown and the end of legal shooting hours. That is prime time – the best time to hunt in the evening.
The middle of the day is sleeping time for an elk. After a night of eating, watering, and socializing, the elk will typically retreat to a thickly wooded area to sleep for the day, often near the top of a high ridge. Resist the urge to pursue the animals into their bedding areas. The chance of getting a shot before the elk sees or hears you is very low. It is likely that all you will know of the elk’s presence is the sound of a massive animal crashing through brush that is often too thick for a person to walk through. Once you have disturbed an elk in its most secure location, it may leave the general area and not return during the entire season.
Midday is a great time to relax yourself, and prepare for the evening hunt. However, it does not mean that it is totally off limits for hunting. Elk often don’t stay in the same bedding location all day. What was a nice shady bed in the morning can be in the direct sunshine in the afternoon, which may prompt the elk to get up and change locations. It’s possible to get a shot if you are patiently keeping watch on a bedding area. Also, elk will sometimes wallow in the middle of the day, especially early in the season. Sitting in your blind or tree stand during this time can be productive.
Timing is crucial in many aspects of life, and elk hunting is no different. Make the most of the “Prime Times”; these are the best times to hunt elk. Doing this will increase your chances of success.