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Old 11-01-2016, 05:28 AM
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Location: Minneapolis, MN Area
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Long Game Elk Hunt

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I have been into firearms for years, but just in the past few years have gotten into hunting. I live in MN and do lots of pheasant, and a little bit of duck/goose, and plan to tackle grouse this year.

I have a life goal of taking an elk. Most hunting/fishing pursuits are fun for me, but I want to be intentional about building my skill set up to be prepared enough for a western trip and eventually take an elk. I realize this is quite an undertaking and so I want to plan gaining those skills to set myself up for that when the time comes.

I know that elk hunting requires a high level of physical fitness, so I am working on getting into shape with boxing classes, and treadmill work as well. Trudging through pheasant fields probably doesn't hurt either. I know that I need to buy an elk focused rifle at some point, and I think I'd like to get into deer hunting as a gateway to mammal hunting to learn stalking, and cleaning techniques.

What other advice do you more experienced folks have in terms of what I'd need to learn, know and do to prepare for a successful elk trip in my life?
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Old 11-01-2016, 05:41 AM
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Location: Craig, Colorado / Pretoria, South Africa
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Troutster, do not over-analyse it - it is just hunting. Normal walk and rifle-carry fitness is required at about 7,000 ft elevation. Much better to spend time studying elk anatomy, practicing stalking (quiet walking) and shooting standing up from sticks or make-shift or natural rest out to 220 yards or so and being able to hit an 8" diameter target off-hand at 100 yards every time.

It is mostly a walk in the park in Colorado - IF the elk are there, which is the biggest potential disappointment. Send me a PM and I may be able to give you more detailed advice if I knew where your may be heading to.
"n the sixties, American kids were dreaming of building rocket ships and going to the moon. Today, they’re trying to figure out what gender they are and which bathroom they should be using".

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Old 11-01-2016, 09:07 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2016
Posts: 578
Good advice from Mus.

Elk hunting is just like deer hunting but at higher elevation and a much larger animal. Like most western game animals elk have evolved with distance s their defensive tool. So they have a comfort range about 200 yards. Your local whitetails will use cover rather than distance.

There are dozens of elk hunting books (don't let them make it seem like a spiritual thing).
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Old 11-01-2016, 09:16 AM
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If your intent on buying a new rifle, then buy a light weight model and keep your kit to the minimum. Less weight to carry. Your calibre choices are many of course but the boring old 30-06 will still do the job in spades. It might seem a walk in the park to Mus., but I've been there a couple of times and if you are a relatively flat lander like me then you are doing the right thing in getting your lungs fit for that elevation. My first visit to Wyoming, I found the first morning a struggle. I should have acclimatised. So if your hunt is at altitude try and get 48hrs on site just brisk walks on the level....if you can find some, before getting serious it does help. and helped me considerably on my second visit near Jackson Hole but so did the horses :-) Best of luck and lets see a report of your success.
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Old 11-01-2016, 09:31 AM
Dom Dom is offline
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Good day Sir
Having lived in Colorado for many years I have had the opportunity to harvest many elk. Have been in on two elk kills this season, mine & a friend. Both fair chase on public land. We take an elk every year & some years two. It has been my experience a rifle in 6.5 with the Barnes 120gr TSX, 270 & the 130gr TSX, 7mm & the 140gr TSX you have a rifle/cal capable of taking mature elk with no problem. A cartridge like the 260 Rem/6.5x55, 270 Win. 7-08/7x57 or similar rounds work absolutely. Expect total penetration with any of these cal/bullet combinations. I'm only 72 & still learning & blessed with the ability to get around with no problem. There are many areas to hunt elk. Elk can be found both at high elevations & lower elevations. Knowing your country is every thing. It is not necessary to hunt with a guide but is definitely an advantage if you don't know the area. I live at 7700' elevation so I am well acclimated, but if you are coming from a much lower elevation be prepared to feel tired for a few days. Being in good physical condition is for sure a plus.
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Old 11-01-2016, 10:46 AM
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Location: Remote Idaho
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I guided elk hunters in Colorado for several years. Our base camp (my house) was at 8,000 and the hunting camps were scattered from 8,800 to 9,400. Lack of breath was the biggest trouble for low-land hunters. Some couldn't get ON a horse if the first try failed.
I suggest climbing stairs or bleachers at the stadium for the best all round 'get in shape' for high country elk. Wear your boots and about ten pounds in a small pack and build lungs and legs.
There is no safe direction to point an unsafe gun.
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Old 11-01-2016, 12:59 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2016
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Being in good shape is important in all hunting.

I'd not compromise on rifle weight. Get a gun that delivers a reasonably heavy bullet and has some range with accuracy. a 'o6 or a 7 mag are pretty good for starters.

Last year I hunted with my 9.3x62 CZ550 a full stock rifle with quality heavy Leupold scopes. Shot my elk at 93 yards offhand. Felt better using this rifle for a stalk than my 5.5 pound 260 Kimber ultra light.

I hunted above 11,000 alt. I was in fair shape, but had no problem even though I live at 850 above sea level. Altitude affects people differently. worth a test ride into some 10k areas, maybe a fishing trip, for a test. Altitude has never been a problem for me for the last 71 years or so.

The only magic in elk hunting is looking at the beautiful surroundings and listening to the bugling.
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Old 11-01-2016, 01:45 PM
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There's only one thing that beats having to haul a hunter off the mountain to save his life....and that's spending two days with a dead man in a blizzard because he didn't make it. I've done both. Altitude sickness starts with a bad headache and nausea. Get to a LOWER altitude. You can die....and mess up everybody's hunt.
There is no safe direction to point an unsafe gun.
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Old 11-01-2016, 02:17 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Queen Creek, Arizona
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I don't think I have ever hunted elk that high in elevation down here in AZ. And for rifle choice don't over think it my first elk was taken with a 357 mag revolver.
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Old 11-01-2016, 03:48 PM
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Location: Craig CO. Elk Hunting Capitol of the World!
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Do stairs, find a building with say 6-8 flights of them. Lightly at first so you don't over do it, then gradually put some weight in your pack til you get to say 20 pounds and can go up at least four flights without stopping. DON"T RUN, just walk up 'em normal like.

Until I was 45 or so and my knees went to heck, that was my routine. For a few years it helped that I worked on the fourth floor of a "wash plant" and it was my job to go check the screens at the top of the screen tower (110 feet) up another 148 steps carrying tools, welding leads, screens etc.

Keep your powder dry and when you go afield take the kids and please..........wear your seat belts.
I am the ORIGINAL recoil junky ©, often imitated, but never equalled.
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Old 11-02-2016, 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by JBelk View Post
I guided elk hunters in Colorado for several years. Our base camp (my house) was at 8,000 and the hunting camps were scattered from 8,800 to 9,400. Lack of breath was the biggest trouble for low-land hunters. Some couldn't get ON a horse if the first try failed.
I suggest climbing stairs or bleachers at the stadium for the best all round 'get in shape' for high country elk. Wear your boots and about ten pounds in a small pack and build lungs and legs.
This is sound advise, unless your hunting on a ranch where they haul you around with horse or atv you better get very familiar with a treadmill or stairmaster.

The second biggest problem I see with flatlanders is the mental aspect of elk hunting, I've seen more that a few guys come up here and not leave camp, or tie little scraps of orange survey tape on every tree leaving camp out to 50 yards away and there they sit the entire season.
One guy from Kansas called his wife to drive 10 hours to come pick him up after the first day, he was 40 years old but acted like he was 6, I've driven lots of flatlanders 4 wheel trucks up mountain roads because they were scared of the edges.
There are some strange things that can happen to flatlanders here in the mountains.

ps, I would not come to Colorado the very first time and go elk hunting, come first in the summer and fish an easily accessible stream or lake at high altitude, if there's no issue pick one of the high mountain lakes that has only hiking trails that access it, some of these are a real challenge but the exertion level will be on par with packing out an elk. There are hundreds of these lakes here in Colorado that rarely get fished because people can't drive to them, we have a saying here, if you can drive to it, drive on by it.
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Last edited by Kevinbear; 11-03-2016 at 03:10 PM.
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Old 04-20-2017, 06:13 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Southern Alberta Canada
Posts: 158
Guided elk hunts

We kill our elk at ALOT less altitude than Coloradoans, even less than Wyomingites, but we do most of them from the back of a horse. Should you be in shape? Heck yeah! But a decent outfitter/guide, can (and usually DOES) put you in rifle range without busting your lung corpuscles. I once helped an old boy with two clubbed feet kill a good bull at 11:00 a.m. on the first day of his hunt. I'm gonna jump out on a limb here and guess that you have enough common sense NOT to try a DIY, once-in-a-lifetime hunt. Trying that is the closest thing to a suicide flushing his fortune down the crapper I can imagine. Get yourself a REPUTABLE guide. Put at least six months of solid research into your choice. Take that part very serious, or, just flush a bunch of cash down the toilet and call it done.
Take horse riding instructions. (It takes the average *** three days to acclimatize itself to riding) Why waste three days of your dream hunt in pain, and not enjoying yourself?
Now to rifles: DO NOT EXPECT TO OVERCOME LACK OF SKILL WITH FIRE-POWER. Buy a rifle capable of killing elk, and practice, practice, practice! Practice from FIELD POSITIONS. Hitting 1" groups from a bench will not prove anything (except what the rifle is capable of)
Buy a rifle that YOU are comfortable shooting. A 7mm. Rem. mag kills elf as good any other, AND doesn't tear your shoulder apart. Many people use the '06 without complaint, and the 280 AI is becoming very popular nowadays, due to it's dropping power and mild recoil. YOU DO NOT NEED TO PUNISH YOURSELF TO KILL ELK. Again, buy the rifle YOU are comfortable using, and practice with it, until you are confident you can hit what you need to from field positions. Study the physiology of elk, so YOU know where to place your bullet. If you follow the above advice, I guarantee you will have the time of your life. Elk hunting is about having fun, challenging yourself, and taking home lifetime memories.
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Old 04-21-2017, 03:50 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2016
Posts: 148
I would say get as fit as you can and stay there-it makes everything easier. I also worked as a guide in my youth and I saw hunts ruined by a lack of it.Buy some mountain boots and wear them everywhere (even church),make sure they are an extention of you. We take elk out in pieces/quarters on our back or a packhorse.I am 59,live where I hunt,run,ride,and rope year year around to stay fit .Cardiovascular health allows me to walk with the grandchildren..up a steep mountain. Don't sweat the rifle much ,just use a very good bullet. Perhaps not a bad idea to hire a packer or guide either.Good luck
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Old 04-22-2017, 12:16 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Southern Alberta Canada
Posts: 158
Elk hunting condition

One year, the guy I was working for got a call from a second-string defence man for the Minnesota Viking, who said, " I hate horses, but I want to hunt elk so one of you better get in shape, because I'M A PROFFESSIONAL ATHLETE!" Well, of course this was taken seriously, so all the appropriate personnel did just that (as if they weren't already), but, none of us was a professional athlete.
First day out, the gentleman bagged out halfway up the mountain, and went back to camp in a sullen rage. Worse, he drank up all the mix, and THAT made his no friends either. People tried to talk him on to the back of a horse, but the breaking of wind on the horse's behalf, had the gentleman sweating BBs. He went home half way through his booked time period.
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