Leave Elk to find Elk? Or hold your ground?

Joined
Oct 10, 2023
Messages
13
Location
Kuna ID
Hello All,

Would love to hear your thoughts or experiences on something I'm finding myself questioning lately.
I usually stick to the theory of "don't leave elk to find elk". Meaning, if I'm hunting an OTC area and I'm finding a good amount of elk, but not finding what I'm looking for in a bull and/or opportunity, then I'll be patient and sit on those elk until what I'm looking for presents itself.

I've been in the same situation over and over where I'm hunting a big canyon (7 to 8 miles long, 2,000+ verical ft canyon walls) and I'm finding a good amount or a lot of elk. But being an OTC tag there are also plenty of hunters in the area. I have had success by being patient and waiting for the right opportunity, while also being very aggressive when opportunity is presented. But I've also been unsuccessful because opportunity wasn't presented. Followed by continuing to go back each day, finding elk in the same area but having the same result of no luck on my side for an opportunity. In this scenario I'm encountering multiple groups of hunters, which is also pushing elk around all over the canyon. This blows elk out, but also produces other elk into the area over time. Bulls come and go. Big ones get reclusive the further past the opener you get. But spikes and raghorns show their faces regularly. You might find elk you can't get to that day, but decent chance they won't leave the canyon until something pushes them.

Everyone has their own style of doing things obviously. I know of guys that just keep pushing and moving until they run into what they're looking for. But if I'm glassing and finding 50+ elk its hard to leave them knowing something could shake loose to go after.

Question/prompts:
- Would you leave the area to find other elk in hopes that it would potentially not be as heavily hunted?
- Would you stick it out until you got the opportunity you were looking for?
- Would your theory change if you were simply hunting any bull to fill your tag, or if you were hunting mature bulls?
 

Gerbdog

WKR
Joined
Jun 8, 2020
Messages
829
Location
CO Springs
Man... if your finding this many elk in an OTC unit... dont budge. It takes a lot of heart pounding encounters to line up a shot sometimes.....

I've moved from elk to find elk to find what im looking for but it was more terrain related - moved from more open forests to areas that were more dense so the elk wouldnt hang up and look through the woods.... and this wasnt an OTC unit. I was pretty confident i'd move from elk and find more elk....

Is the issue your having not finding big enough bulls? or just not lining up a shot?
 

Young Blood

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Dec 24, 2018
Messages
119
Location
Kalispell, MT
This is entirely dependent on what you are looking for. If you just want any legal bull you stay put and hunt the elk you know are there. If you are only after a big mature bull you need to go higher and/or look for the nasty hell holes that no other hunters are hitting. The big bulls will seldom be hanging around a herd of cows/spikes/raghorns. There are always exceptions to that but they are the exception, not the rule.
 
OP
B
Joined
Oct 10, 2023
Messages
13
Location
Kuna ID
This is entirely dependent on what you are looking for. If you just want any legal bull you stay put and hunt the elk you know are there. If you are only after a big mature bull you need to go higher and/or look for the nasty hell holes that no other hunters are hitting. The big bulls will seldom be hanging around a herd of cows/spikes/raghorns. There are always exceptions to that but they are the exception, not the rule.
Mature bulls are the exception not the rule. I like that! Definitely going to steal that phrase from you.
 

Hnthrdr

WKR
Joined
Jan 29, 2022
Messages
2,748
Location
The West
I have left elk to find elk before, but it was because of a cow and not a bull, the bull was an idiot, a decently big idiot but his lead cow was super smart. First cow call she heard she was pulling him away, snuck in close and bugled, she is pulling him away, did that until they went to a spot which would have been impossible for me to get the meat out of without it spoiling. So I packed up camp drove across the state, and killed a small dumb bull the next day. That unit is now draw only… thanks a lot Obama…
 
Joined
Aug 20, 2019
Messages
982
If you're not finding what you're looking for then absolutely go somewhere else. It's your tag and evidentially you know the risk you're taking by leaving them, but with high risk comes high reward. Alot of the guys who will tell you do not leave elk are ones who have a hard time finding elk so take that with a grain of salt.... just my opinion of course.
 
Joined
Nov 5, 2023
Messages
474
Location
Eastern Idaho
I would agree with SuperDUECE22 in regard to if your not finding what your there for go find it. You might have a bull tag and be in a heard of cows. I've seen herd bulls miles from their cows and satellites miles away as well.
 
OP
B
Joined
Oct 10, 2023
Messages
13
Location
Kuna ID
Is this archery or rifle?
I'd never leave Elk to find Elk in archery season.
It's rifle. Middle of October to first week of November. Usually I'm just looking for any bull. If i find a mature bull then that's usually where my focus goes. But inevitably other hunters bump elk. Or the mature bull seems to dissappear. Or groups of elk are only cows. Those are the typical 3 scenarios that shake out, which puts back to square 1 and asking myself do I leave elk to find more.
 

Wrench

WKR
Joined
Aug 23, 2018
Messages
5,850
Location
WA
You're hunting for what you want. If you're not seeing it....keep hunting. You can't kill big bulls if you notch on dinks, but you may loose some seasons and have bad dreams about the dinks you passed up.

.....but they may also grow up to be what you want.

Gotta ask yourself, are you hunting elk, or are you hunting a elk. You sound like the latter.
 

Jaquomo

WKR
Joined
Apr 27, 2012
Messages
350
I have, and regretted it. And a few times I didn't regret it. But anymore, I mostly hunt them until I or someone else blows them up, because a big bull could show up anytime in my area.
 
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