Elk hunting tips: how to track an elk

Elk hunting tips: how to track an elk

Hunting and tracking Elk takes lots of patience and capitalizing on your opportunities. When tracking an Elk you can put a lot of emphasis on the patience part…especially if you are bow hunting. You could be stalking a wounded Elk for miles or hours. Or both!

To get to the point of tracking a wounded elk, you’re going to have to find them and track them down to get that shot we all dream of.  Don’t worry we are going to give you some great tips to start tracking elk!

elk huntingThe best way to do that is to find Elk Track, and follow the trail. This will lead you to that glorious Bull you’ll be able to bring down, and bring home! Almost all the best Elk hunters put miles, and miles of walking in every year. They know how to endure the cold, and sometimes muddy, windy and snowy climates for long periods of time.

Thankfully, Elk tracking isn’t that difficult and can be learned quite easily, so don’t you worry. Now we’re going to give you the low down on how to track down some Elk.

Ready? Okay, here we go.

Tracking elk

Obviously, Elk are around in all types of weather, and so should you when you’re heading out for a hunt. When it is snowy or rainy out might actually be the best time to go out scouting and following Elk tracks because, that’s right you guessed it, tracks are much clearer and more easily made in the elements.

But are all hoof tracks left in the snow legit? Not necessarily. We need to test out how fresh the snow is, as well as the surrounding tracks. If you spot some good deep tracks in the snow or mud, feel around them to see if they are crusty or have a softer and fresher feel. This will tell you if you are amongst elk in the vicinity that probably haven’t strutted too far away.

If they are super hard, and the edges are sharp and crusty, then you can bet that bull is long gone. But if they have a softer mushier feel, then there is a solid chance the bull hasn’t gone too far.

Follow these types of tracks, and make sure you’re not looking down for too long! Elk are sneaky, and we need to be paying close attention to spot a good Elk roaming around.





Where do we start?

Whenever we want to gun down any type of animal, you and I both know the best thing to do is to study their habits. Where do they sleep? Where do they eat? Where do they mate? These are the questions we ask.

So where can we find these bulls? Elk love to sleep the open clearings in the woods. Wherever there could be a lot of sunlight is where you’ll want to start your search at first light. Get them early while they are still getting out of bed, they won’t see you coming!

Also, Elk like steep terrain very much, and this could be a gold mine for you as a hunter, because most of these hunters hate going uphill to find game. But you are tougher than that right? Go uphill and look for elk tracking’s in your hunting area, and you may come out with a freshly shot down elk in half the time it would take you to hunt on flat land.

But for the first few days it is ok if you can’t spot many Elk. This should be a marathon not a sprint, right? So ideally we want to spot a few places where the elk tracks are plentiful, and come back for an early morning camp out to see if we can intercept some Elk strolling past after first light.

Look for other signs

So what other signs can we look for to spot some Elk tracks? When Elk urine tracks are a great help in indicating whether the tracks we spot are fresh, or if they are just fooling us.

When you find some Elk tracks, whether it be in the snow, or in the mud, check for the odor of these newly found footprints. Sometimes, you may think, “Man these tracks smell terrible! They must be fresh urine tracks, the elk are not too far away!” But really these Elk are fooling you. Fresh urine rarely give off a strong odor, and this may be their way of fooling naïve hunters like us.

But now we know, so don’t be fooled by these smelly tracks!

In addition to the urine trails, we want to look for Elk droppings as well. If you find some in a large pile and they are longer, then this is a great sign. Now, let’s look to see if they are shiny and moist. You may even want to poke some with a stick to see how soft they are. These are all fantastic signs your soon to be hunted Elk is in the vicinity!

But if these droppings are dry and crusty, don’t get too excited, because the Elk is probably long gone. Always be paying attention though because the Elk could be backtracking, so we never know.

So, are there any more ways to notice signs of Elk in the vicinity? Well friend, this is where great hunters take it to another level with their intuitive instinct. We need to always be looking for things like watering sources, and freshly used elk beds (flattened spots in the grass) to figure out if an elk has just left and if we can catch it in time. So always be looking for signs.

What to do when you find tracks?

So you finally found decent Elk tracks, eh? Are they recent? Good. So now it’s time to find our Elk nearby. Make sure you follow the tracks in the right direction. This means knowing what way is the front of an Elks footprint. Be very sure of this, because you’ll be surprised how many make such little mistakes like this! So when you find the Elk track, follow it and be very attentive. We want to look all around, because like we said earlier, these Elk can be tricky. They really just show up out of nowhere!

Be on guard!

When you spot the Elk, be sure to not make any noise. If you are close enough for a shot, make sure you get off the shot as quick as possible. Sometimes, you only have as little as a couple seconds to get off your shot! Other times we will have to move to get a clear shot, or to move closer. Just make sure you act quickly.

Elk tracking takes a lot of focus from start to finish, so make sure your energy level is steady and high. Get a good night sleep before the big day, and make sure you bring enough water. Try to stay away from foods that will give you an energy crash like sugar and coffee. These can make or break your focus for when you find a good Elk trail, and we need all the mental firepower we can get!

Tracking elk- Bull elk laying on mountain What else can we do to find elk?

So is Tracking Elk the only way to get to these meaty creatures? You may be asking how else we can get these guys to come closer to our hunting area to make our jobs a little easier. Well just like when hunting other animals, we can use Elk calling to our advantage, especially when we find legit Elk tracks.

These elk are talkative fellows and luckily Elk calling can be learned by anyone. Just another language we need to learn in the art of hunting, right? Well in short, Elk calling can be divided into the types of Elk that are out there. Basically Elk are divided into two categories, bull elk calling and cow elk calling. Of course, they vary in form and length, and only some practice will be needed to learn this strange new skill. Check out some YouTube videos on the subject and practice in your backyard when the neighbors aren’t home, and I’m sure you’ll do fine. You will need to get very good at making elk calls especially if you want to bow hunt for elk, which will require you to call them in a lot closer.

So there you have it, any more questions? Ask them below. I hope you can get out there now and test the elements with your newly found Elk tracking knowledge.

Remember, learning is really done through taking action, and when you are out there and can catch sight of some true, real you’re expertise will grow rapidly. Smelling, seeing, and hearing the animals we hunt is all part of the game and if we want to be good hunters, tracking our animals well is half the battle. So get out there and find some tracks of your own. Be sure to post some pictures to the hunter’s wall of your great elk!

3 thoughts on “Elk hunting tips: how to track an elk

  1. Great, detailed article. Always a pleasure to read something written by somebody that clearly knows their stuff. Tracking can be hard work, but the rewards are seriously worth it. Finding that elk after all the effort tracking it is exhilarating! Better make sure that you’re using the right type of broadhead, or you’re not going to waste a lot of time if the elk escapes unscathed.

  2. Really well written and fun to read! one of the most information filled articles I have came across online.

    Thank You for sharing your knowledge with us!

    1. Your welcome Von,
      I’m glad you found the article useful! If you use this information on an Elk hunt of yours, we’d love for you to come back and tell us about it

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