10 Reasons You Won’t Bow-Kill an Elk This Fall

Have You Committed These Cardinal Elk Woods Sins?

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You’re Out of Shape

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1 | You’re Out of Shape

Elk country and a heavy pack force you to employ muscles you rarely use at sea level. If you don’t strengthen them beforehand, you’ll likely experience muscle exhaustion early during your hunt.

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Photo Credit: Darron McDougal

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You’ll Bugle Too Frequently

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2 | You’ll Bugle Too Frequently

Bugling rarely brings public-land bulls running. In fact, many times, it sends them directly away. Bulls hear countless bugles all season long and begin to associate them with danger. There are exceptions, of course, but using your bugle tube too frequently often hurts rather than helps your chances.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Jo Crebbin

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You Won’t Work Hard Enough to Find Elk

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3 | You Won’t Work Hard Enough to Find Elk

Finding elk is half the battle. If you don’t locate north-facing timber with nearby grazing and water via aerial and topo maps, you may not find elk until your hunt is nearly over. Pre-hunt mapwork is a must.

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Photo Credit: Darron McDougal

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You’ll Pick a Poor Hunting Unit

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4 | You’ll Pick a Poor Hunting Unit

Maybe you took a lead from a buddy, or perhaps you didn’t study harvest statistics thoroughly enough. Of course, even the worst elk units can still produce, but remember that any elk hunt, even in premium draw units, will be tough. Choosing a unit with higher harvest rates is generally wise, especially if you’re not trophy hunting.

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Photo Credit: Darron McDougal

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You Won’t Practice Incline/Decline Shots

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5 | You Won’t Practice Incline/Decline Shots

Shooting at elk isn’t shooting at whitetails. Public-land bulls typically offer fleeting chances, often at longer distances and with the added challenge of steep angles. Simulate these shots during your summer practice routine so you’re prepared for go-time.

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Photo Credit: Darron McDougal

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You’ll Set Up Behind Cover

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6 | You’ll Set Up Behind Cover

Whitetailers new to elk country naturally want to set up behind cover. Then, when a shot opportunity unfolds, cover obstructs it. Set up in front of cover so you can shoot unobstructed.

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Photo Credit: Bill Konway

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You’ll Hunt Areas with Old Elk Sign

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7 | You’ll Hunt Areas with Old Elk Sign

It’s always encouraging to find old elk sign. However, old elk sign means the elk have moved. It’s possible they’ll return, but don’t count on it. Keep searching for steaming-fresh sign.

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Photo Credit: Darron McDougal

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You’ll Enter the Timber Too Late

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8 | You’ll Enter the Timber Too Late

Without question, hiking from camp at daybreak is like being late for work. By the time you reach elk, they’ll be heading for their beds, and you probably won’t catch up to them. A great goal is to be with the elk by shooting light.

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Photo Credit: Bill Konway

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You Won’t Hunt Long Enough

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9 | You Won’t Hunt Long Enough

“Most hunters don’t have unlimited time to hunt elk,” explained elk-hunting veteran Dan Evans. “Without question, the more time you spend hunting, the higher your chances of success become. For the unguided DIY hunter, there’s no substitute for time spent afield.”

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Photo Credit: John Hafner

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You Won’t Be Prepared to Seal the Deal

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10 | You Won’t Be Prepared to Seal the Deal

“Many bowhunters don’t prepare for all aspects of the game,” Evans shared, “and they underestimate the effects of putting pressure on themselves and being ready to perform during intense, high-pressure situations. It’s amazing how easy it is to miss a huge bull elk at extremely close range if you’ve lost control of your nerves.”

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Vlad Salman

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The average archery-elk success rate hovers near 10 percent. Beat the following 10 mistakes, and your personal odds could fly well above 10 percent this September.