Elk NetworkTraveling long distance for your next hunt? Here’s how to scout it.

Hunting | August 17, 2017

You live 1,000 miles from your intended elk hunting location. Or, maybe you just have too many family irons in the fire to make time to scout. Instead of watching another YouTube video about talking cats, use your spare minutes to scout from your home.Never underestimate the helpful willingness of state game and fish employees. Biologists, conservation officers, regional directors and others serve the public, most of them with enthusiasm. Calling them at convenient hours can lead you in the right direction. Don’t forget to leave a message, follow-up or call around until you find someone. Sometimes it takes tenacity. If you want to corroborate or gain even more detail, talk to more than one official. Conservation officers and wardens may have a different perspective over a biologist who doesn’t get daily trips afield. Combined, the two could put you right on top of a herd of elk. Be sincere, polite and speedy. They lead busy careers like you do. And don’t fret if they aren’t terribly specific. Your license fee pays for their salary; but they hunt, too, and they aren’t hired guides.Peruse online resources in addition to the herd management information available on state wildlife pages. Social networks, do-it-yourself websites and hunting forums have taken on a life of their own. Sure, some include bragging posts, but most host numerous, honest queries for hunting information. Add your question into a forum and you never know what information will be reciprocated. Many times if you draw the “impossible” tag, the guy who drew it last year and who won’t draw again for a decade or a lifetime might be willing to help you out. You can also research past posts for information on the success others have had in a location you are considering. Don’t expect someone to give you the GPS coordinates to their honey hole, but it will surprise you how much information can flow down the information super highway.Purchase maps. It’s a good idea to download GPS maps, like the ones from onXmaps, onto your GPS or smartphone. These will be CRUCIAL to know exactly where you are allowed to hunt and ensure that you don’t accidentally end up on the wrong side of the fence. You may even find new areas that you didn’t even know where public land. But don’t overlook the ease of a good, table-sized topographical map, especially when paired with a public-land map like those sold by the Forest Service. As you begin gathering hints of where to go, mark the locations on your maps and begin whittling down your target area. First, look for access. You’ll need to get within a few miles with camp equipment via a backpack or help from a horse or ATV. Now look beyond that for roadless regions. Elk will quickly exit hunter-heavy areas for sites two or more miles from roads or trails.With a block of country in mind, study it for three elements: food, water and travel routes. Look for meadows, parks and open slopes. Satellite images can be a huge help in this department. Water is represented on maps with blue. Note all springs and creeks. Lastly, study topographical maps from either onXmaps or your purchased hard copies to pinpoint saddles and mountain grades elk likely will use to get from point A to point B.Put all of this information together and you should have a solid start to your hunt. If you can swing it, plan a summer vacation to the locale for a firsthand look at your homework assignment. Bring the kids and make it fun!Any other suggestions for those planning a trip? Let us know below.