Strategies for Post-Rut Elk Hunting
The peak of the elk rut is over after a long month of bugling, clashing of antlers, and establishing breeding dominance. Hunters have also had a long month of chasing rutty bulls. Now it is time for post-rut hunting and although September running and gunning tactics can be effective for post-rut bulls, we suggest some other productive approaches to hunting elk this time of year.
Switching up tactics and putting the calls deeper into your pockets can be challenging but it also provides you ways to improve your overall hunting skill set. The calls can still be used, you just need to be more strategic in how you use them in conjunction with other tactics. Note: the tips and tactics in this article can be utilized for archery, muzzleloader, and rifle hunting but are specific to mid-season October hunts.
Mid Season Post-Rut Strategies
Drive, Listen & Glass
Keep Calls in Your Pocket
Best-case scenario is to hear a bull bugling while it’s still dark in the morning. At this point try to pinpoint its location and start moving in. No calling back, just get the wind right and go. In a perfect situation he will keep bugling and you can keep tabs on him while you approach. If you haven’t heard from him in a while and don’t know exactly where he is, throw out a soft cow call for a response, then keep moving in. Don’t try and call him in, just keep moving. This time of the season the goal is to be less than 100 yards before calling is attempted.
Once within striking distance of a bull (less than 100 yards) stop for a situational assessment. If you can make a quiet approach, keep going without calling and risk giving your position away. If a bull has cows he will circle the herd perimeter to keep them grouped up. If you can get into position for a shot on a post-rut bull this should be option number one. If you have a cow between him and you, just sit tight and eventually he will make his way around. Sitting tight on the edge (or even the middle) of a herd of elk is like no other. You will see herd dynamics and behavior as well as hear vocalizations only few people experience.
Fight the urge to continuously call; they will usually take their time moving in this time of year, especially when they are near cows. Sometimes a bull will stare in your cow calling direction for several minutes, seemingly pondering how did she get over there without me seeing her move. If you call and then wait a while, then softly call again, curiosity and remnants of testosterone pulsing through their blood will usually get the better of them.
Enjoy the Transition
Written by: Zach Bowhay
– STAY SAFE, LEGaL & EN-ROUTE –