To increase your chances of success in the backcountry, get to know your local wildlife biologist. Sure, they may be nerdy scientist, but these people are amazing!
Due to family events, my 2015 elk hunting season consisted of only two days. Opening day and closing day. Opening day was a bust. I saw nothing but old sign. The elk had moved out of the area a week or so prior. I’m sure some of you share in my frustration as you have experienced this before. I returned home that evening and spent the rest of the season enjoying hanging out with our new twin boys! Nothing beats being a dad!
“While I would have loved for John to just give me grid coordinance to the local sweet spot, he did something much more helpful. He educated me.”
As the end of the season rolled around, I knew I would be able to sneak out for the last day. Knowing my time was limited I called a local wildlife biologist, John. Listening to him talk about elk is like listening to someone read the elk wikipedia page. John was such a wealth of knowledge and a great help. While I would have loved for John to just give me grid coordinance to the local sweet spot, he did something much more helpful. He educated me. After a short 30 minute conversation, I knew what the elk were eating that time of year, how they were responding to moonlight, times of day they would be calling, when they would be moving from their beds to eat, and even the temperature of the water they prefer to drink. Armed with this new information I started looking at Google Earth and scouted a location that matched many of the descriptions John told me about. I set out the next morning for a very memorable hunt.
Within 30 minutes of being in the woods, I was into elk. I spooked some cows out of their beds and the chase was on. Stalking through the forest I began to see everything John told me about. Alpine grass and flowers, cold moving water, areas of dense dark timber, and did I mention the steepness of the terrain? Boy was it steep! Sadly, my arrow never connected with an elk that day. They never presented a shot. My two day, 2015 elk season ended with no elk in the freezer but I did gain some valuable knowledge thanks to John.
Simply put, get to know your local wildlife biologist. Most states employ several and they are more than willing to pass along knowledge. Knowing the biology (and what drives the behavior) of the animal you’re hunting is the most important thing you can learn about your prey. Answering questions like, what do they like to eat this time of year? How do they respond to moon phases? Has the rut started/is it over? What time of the day do they move? What makes them want to move? …etc
Call or email your game wardens office and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Biologists want you to be successful on your hunt.