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KaibabHunter

Elk in Pinyons/Junipers

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The majority of the area I'm scouting for elk is all pinyon land in rolling hills-new to me and very hot after 9 am. Curious what the mid day archery tactics are for bulls as I like to hunt all day long. Glass, still hunt, ???

 

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Congrats on the tag! I love hunting the pinyon and juniper country for bulls! Hunting mid-day is usually when the bulls are in their bedding area or have shut down and stopped bugling. I always try to avoid bumping any elk if at all possible so I tend to not hunt through bedding areas during mid-day. I basically will hunt them for as long as they are talking or for as long as I can see them. If they shut up then I'll get to a high point and try to glass and spot n' stalk them. One thing to keep in mind is that during the full moon, while everyone else is in their camps taking a nap in the middle of the day, make sure to be close to their bedding area and try a bugle or two or at least listen. I've had some awesome calling experiences in the middle of the day during the full moon cycle and can sometimes be the best rut action you'll have that day, especially if you get some cloud cover and it cools down! There are tons of scenarios that will dictate what I do on any given day during the archery elk hunts, but the basics for me are as I've already mentioned, hunt them for as long as you can hear or see them, back out if you can't do either and get on em' later! Best of luck to ya, keep us posted! JIM>

 

BTW...if ya don't mind sharin', PM me the unit you drew and I may be able to help you with more detailed info.

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Thanks Jim,

 

PM sent. My last archery bull hunt was in 2006 in 5BS. I had a lot of action just kindof sneeking slow and quiet through the pines during mid day to locate those bedding areas and then hang close. I was in elk all hours of the day - fun hunt and hope this year's is close or even better! But that was different terrain than the pinyons, mostly. I am dark to dark kind of hunter - you never know what you might run into. That might be tougher this year with the sun really cookin ya as soon as you step out of the shade. Glass and/or just mark em where you last seen/heard em and come back later seems like a good option in this country. Looks like the moon starts new at the beginning of the hunt and ends on a full.

 

Thanks,

 

 

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PM sent back Ryan! You definitely can utilize your glassin' skills in that unit during mid-day! Glassing has no impact on the bulls and gives you a better idea where to intercept or sneak into the herd later in the day when they get up to move again and haven't been bothered. Also, if the rut is slow and there are no bugles, the glassability of that country is a huge help. If you find a really big bull and you can glass him, I would try spot n' stalking him instead of trying to call him in. Those bulls can get call shy in a hurry in that unit, especially to cow calls. Trick Treein', or raking trees with an antler or branch, is usually very effective after you've snuck into the comfort zone of a bull with cows, it usually makes him run in to chase you off, but you have to be in his comfort zone so he feels threatened! If you aren't close enough he may just grab his cows and move off. We've killed 4 bulls that were over 400" on regular season hunts such as yours, and we tried calling all of them in, but only 1 was actually called in when killed and it was mainly because he had no cows and the timing was just right. Any of those older herd bulls, 350"+ class or better, are more likely to move off with their cows rather than move in if you try calling them, especially in your unit, but you'll know after the first try what he's gonna do. The trick is to stop trying it if you know he's packing up his cows and moving off! A lot of people (i've learned this the hard way myself) usually continue chasing and calling and before you know it you've just pushed that bull miles out of his normal routine and made him very call shy. This sometimes happens by other hunters to a bull you've been working but it's just part of the game and is why plan B, C, and D are all great things to have! So, if you are on a big herd bull that keeps packin' up his cows and movin' off when called to, try gettin ahead of him quietly or sneakin in on em and rub an antler or a branch on a tree. You can even throw in a small sounding bugle with the trick treein' as well and sometimes gets the bull runnin' in to put himself between you and his cows, but you have to be in his comfort zone first before making any noises. If he still continues to move off, I would continue getting less pushy and definitely would stop calling or only throw out soft cow calls very sparingly just to cover up my foot steps (only if my steps are audible), or I would back out and try later.

 

Sorry for the long winded rant, I just get all worked up thinking about chasing bugling bulls! Hope my experiences or thoughts help ya out! JIM>

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My last hunt it was like the cow calls were almost an alert to em so I didn't even call after the first 2 days. I'll mix it up between chasin bugles, glassing, spot/stalk, ambush...whatever it takes. I do like gettin in close inside there comfort zone. Its fun and test your skills tip toeing through herds of elk. And thanks again Jim for all the great info!

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Thanks for the knowledgable responses Jim - some pointers I think all of us could use (I know I will). Good luck on your hunt Ryan and make sure to post some pictures...I'll be in the same type of country here in NM. I hope it's not as hot as is predicted!

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Jim gave you some amazing advice and pointers there, which shouldn't surprise anyone ;). One thing I would add is something you mentioned in your post about cow calling. I hardly cow call at all anymore. There are too many guys out there that think it's like an easy button and just way over-do it. When it seems like your cow calling becomes an alarm, switch up your call. Avoid simple squeeze calls and try to master a diaphragm call if you haven't already. They're much more versatile and also have the benefit of being hands free. And you won't sound like every other joker out there wearing out his "Hoochie Mama" scaring everything within a quarter mile :rolleyes: Good luck man

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Yep, I think the Hootchie mama is done with. I use diaphrams. My dad will be the main caller and I'll be secondary. I got the elk nut dvds and we've both done our "homework" watching em. I don't plan to call much and if its not workin we'll just go silent and get close. Also have a decoy for setups.

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I think people cow call to loud. Some of the calls on the market have to be blown to hard to make subtle realistic cow sounds. I can always tell if the call I am hearing is a real elk or not. If I can tell, I know the elk can.

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All good info from everyone thanks. Here's another question: Is there any rhyme or reason to where they bed in pinyons? Look for draws, deeper canyons, north slopes....I've seen big cedars and clumps of pinyons that could hide just about anything in the flatter stuff. Any thoughts on where to focus on glassing?

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I almost always start with north facing slopes if you have any, but they can and do bed anywhere. It all depends on the layout of the area, the weather and if there's areas they might get pressure from poeple. I sometimes hunt wide open antelope country for elk and they'll be just fine layin' out in the hot sun sometimes. Typically though, north facing slopes are the traditional bed areas primarily because it's got the shade and being a slope it should provide some type of vantage or visibility for the elk to watch for danger which makes them more comfortable and they like to be in that top 1/3 of the slope usually. One thing to keep in mind is, regardless where they are bedded, they will try to bed in a spot where the wind is at their back and they can face away from it. That way their eyes and ears are covering what they can't smell and their nose takes care of everything behind them. JIM>

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I have been scouting alot in 9 for my early archery hunt and I am having a hard time finding big bulls. I feel like i have seen a few 330-350 class and am very happy with that but i sure would like a crack at something bigger. I haven't been drawn for 7 years and i'm sure my eyes and ears just aren't what they used to be. I seem to have seen more when they were in velvet than i do now. Where do they go after they scrape the fuzz? I have been concentrating on the east side.

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Jim, outstanding as usual. Thanx for sharing your coveted knowledge and skills.

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I have been scouting alot in 9 for my early archery hunt and I am having a hard time finding big bulls. I feel like i have seen a few 330-350 class and am very happy with that but i sure would like a crack at something bigger. I haven't been drawn for 7 years and i'm sure my eyes and ears just aren't what they used to be. I seem to have seen more when they were in velvet than i do now. Where do they go after they scrape the fuzz? I have been concentrating on the east side.

 

They are usually more visible while still in the velvet so that's expected. Every bull is different, some go amazing distances once they start rubbing the velvet off and then move again as the pre-rut gets more serious. Most bulls will move in to where the concentrations of cows are and that may only be a mile but could be 10 miles or more. Also most bulls I've seen will tend to go to the same areas year after year and at about the same time in accordance with the stages of the rut. This year is a little different with all the feed and abnormal availability of water. I don't think there is a single bad place to hunt in your unit this year, all four corners have elk and have good bulls.

 

A tactic I use and is a huge help is something that is familiar to turkey hunters, "Shock Bugling"! Drive around at night and listen for bugles or concentrations of rut activity and plan your next mornings hunt accordingly. Most elk will be out in the open country or usually lower country at night and will travel back up or into the thick country to bed. Knowing this and studying the terrain where you find the elk at night, you can make an educated guess at where to intercept all those elk in the morning. This isn't fool proof but it's usually productive to stay in elk activity on a daily basis. You can spotlight if you want but that adds pressure to the elk that I don't like doing, you could change their pattern that night and the following morning if you push them around. Make sure you don't even have a knife in your truck if you spotlight tho, they are very strict on that! Best of luck to ya! JIM>

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