Together again


May 14, 2012
Kamas, Utah
In all the scouting and trail cam photos (I think I'm near 3500 images of elk this summer) I've only had two instances with a bull bigger than a spike hanging out with some cows and one of them sure looked like the bull (5x5) came waltzing in after cows had been in the water for some time. All of the bulls of size larger than spike have been in groups of 2-5.

This past Saturday I went up to pull cameras and do some scouting as we're one week from the opener here in Utah. Photos revealed 3 bulls that are now enjoying the company of a good number of cows. I then spotted said group of about 20 elk and the bulls were two 5x5's and a smaller 3x4, all of which were still in velvet.

I was quite surprised as most of what I've read and seen in the field over the past 5 years that I've been archery hunting elk has me thinking the bulls don't start hanging out with cows until late Aug or at least closer to the rut beginning. Is that not the case? Or are these guys getting merely getting lonely for long walks in the aspens and morning water hole banter with the lady folk after a long summer of hanging out with the boys?

When do you typically see or anticipate the bulls to get back together with cows?
May 5, 2012
I have about three cameras up now and have been putting them at the three same wallows for the past three years. I will rarely have a branch antler bull there. Only spikes and cows in August. Then bam September 1st comes and then here come the bulls. I had nine different bulls checking one wallow last year. But before that date I can count on Cows and Moose. Are rut doesnt start really kick off till the middle of September give or take a few days. But these bulls were on the move looking of cows.


Jul 16, 2012
Northwest Montana
I'd agree with Joshlander...I've noticed the same thing.

With this in mind, I don't put a ton of weight upon where I find mature bulls hanging out together during scouting trips in early/mid August. I'll go back to those same places during opener in the 1st week of September and I'm always dumbfounded because the bulls aren't there and there's no recent sign. But I go back to some of their historic rutting areas I've been lucky enough to find, and bam...the 2nd week of September hits and the big boys show up to play.

One thing I haven't tested out is whether those high mid-summer bull hangouts are where the old, mature bulls return to in late November. I've been lucky enough to fill my tag before late November comes, but I tend to forget about this. Has anyone patterned bulls returning to their summer hangouts in late season?