Spring Elk Scouting

If a fall elk adventure is in your plans, then you shouldn’t overlook scouting your intended hunting area during spring.

Spring Elk Scouting

Yes, I know turkey and bear seasons are open during spring, and that is what any self-respecting bowhunter should be doing, but hear me out. Spring is the perfect time for elk scouting. Why?

In the springtime, the majority of cow elk are in the lower lush meadows, and the lingering, high-country snow still has not melted to a point where the bulls can be in their summer hangouts. Elk generally spend their fall, during the rut, somewhere in between those low meadows where the cows are hanging out in the spring and those high meadows where the bulls spend their summer. Therefore, fall elk hangouts are often vacant during those spring months, creating a window to put boots on the ground without running the risk of blowing elk out of the area.

Elk sign is easy to spot, and spring is the perfect time to find it before the fall hunting season.
Elk sign is easy to spot, and spring is the perfect time to find it before the fall hunting season.

Make the most of it. Cruise the timber, looking for signs of wallows, rubbed trees, trails, secluded meadows and more. Elk are big animals, and when they spend a lot of time in an area during the rut, they tend to leave their mark. Finding areas where you can see multiple years of rutting activity can be very helpful in making sure you are right where you need to be once the rut is on. In addition, this is a great time to familiarize yourself with their terrain so the elk do not have every advantage once the game is on.

After the elk have moved from their spring mode and toward their summer/fall areas, I feel it’s best to watch from afar. Long-range glassing with high-quality optics is my preferred method. At this point, it is more about taking inventory of what is in the area and waiting for the time to go in and see if all my detective work was correct.

Photos by Zach Bowhay

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