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The 5 Phases of Elk Hunting

Find More Elk on Public Land

Let's face it, elk hunting is hard. But sometimes we make it harder than it has to be because we're not doing enough homework before the season starts. To be successful at elk hunting, the first thing you need to do is find the elk. To do that, you need to understand their needs during each phase of the hunting season and where they go to satisfy those needs.

In this series, Randy Newberg breaks down The 5 Phases of Elk Hunting, so you'll know when and where to look for elk in your unit.

Phase 1: Early Season

Welcome to early season elk hunting. The main need for elk during this period is food, so you will find them where the best food is. Once the need for food is satisfied, their next priority is water. Historically, early season hunting comes with hot temperatures, so this means they are going to need water.

So to find elk, you need to find food near water. Generally speaking, these are often found up high in alpine terrain. Depending on the region you are hunting, deep canyons can be a location that holds elk during this season as well.

Phase 2: Pre Rut

Welcome to the Pre-Rut phase. The main needs during this time of year are water, food, and then breeding. Of course, the balance of the needs shifts from the beginning of the phase to the end of the phase, where breeding becomes the highest priority.

Generally speaking, this phase takes place during the first 10 days of September. Look for bulls near water and within a mile or so of where the cows are located. The cows are still going to be where the best food is in your particular unit or area. To dig into the details surrounding this phase, check out Randy’s video below.

Phase 3: Peak Rut

The peak rut is upon us. The bull's main priority this time of year is breeding, breeding, and more breeding. But in order to breed, a bull needs cows, and the cows are still going to be found where the best food is located. So really to find bulls, you need to look for cows, which will be found near food and water.

This phase usually takes place during mid September through early October, depending on the region you are hunting. Unique to this phase of elk hunting is how vocal the bulls are. You can use this to your advantage by utilizing location bugles or cow calling to locate and bring a bull within range.

Phase 4: Post Rut

Coming 9/24/2019

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