Sometimes you can’t avoid high-pressure hunting situations. Maybe you can’t beat ’em, but you don’t have to join ’em. These are the times for long-shot options.
Look for some really ugly and uninviting segment of that hunting country. If it has some decent cover and a little water, it could be an elk hotspot — at least right then. After all, the elk are trying to get away from the crowd as well. Maybe this “bad” area isn’t holding a lot of animals but how many bulls do you need to tag out?
Another play is to hunt in ridiculously easy areas — right along roads and in little brushy draws located in open and accessible areas. Most elk hunters want to “climb the highest mountain.” The elk just want to be left alone and are tired of mountain climbers.
Elk may not be as good as whitetails at occupying tiny little niches of odd-spot cover but under enough pressure, they’ll give it a try.
If you do much elk hunting, you are apt to encounter horses, either pack or riding stock. Most actual elk hunting is on foot these days, but horses can make backcountry transport much easier.
Hunting horses are usually even-tempered and sure-footed. Fiery, fractious animals are not tolerated by most outfitters. However, every horse has the potential to hurt you — always keep that in mind.
Don’t surprise the horse from behind. Speak to it as you approach. Stay out of kicking range to the rear. Mount only from the left side. Hold the reins lightly, correcting when necessary. Constantly holding a tight rein saws the bit in the horse’s mouth unnecessarily. When riding in a lined-out string, don’t let your horse crowd or annoy the one in front of you.
Put only the ball of your foot in the stirrup. If something happens, you don’t want to be stuck. In case of a “blow-up” or runaway, pick a safe spot and jump. Don’t wait to be thrown off.
Michael Waddell is producer of the “Realtree Outdoors” television show, which airs nationally on The Nashville Network (TNN). As an accomplished outdoorsman and archer, Michael also finds himself in front of the camera occasionally, and has taken a number of trophy animals for the Realtree cameras. Michael is also a successful competition turkey caller, with numerous titles.