Ahh, autumn. For the outdoors person, especially the hunter, this is best time of the year.
If you are an archery hunter, bull elk should be at or near the peak of the annual elk rut. Usually, the largest and meanest bull elk in the neighborhood is the herd bull. During the pre-rut, he will have gathered a harem of cows to breed. These are his cows and he will work hard, day and night, to keep them under his control until they are bred.
A big herd bull elk may have a dozen or more cows. Frequently, other younger or smaller bulls will be hanging in the vicinity of the main herd, hoping to steal a cow from the main herd. These are referred to as satellite bulls.
When hunters locate a herd of cow elk, one good elk hunting technique is for the hunters to do a simulated elk bugle, just outside of the main herd.
When the herd bull hears this elk bugle, outside the main herd, he will come charging out to drive the satellite bull away from his cows.
This hunting technique works best with two hunters. One hunter is located further from the herd and he will be doing the elk bugle. The herd bull will usually come towards this bugle, but frequently will stop short of the bugling hunter, especially if the herd bull becomes suspicious. So, the second hunter is the designated shooter.
He positions himself between the bugling hunter and the route he feels the big bull will come. If the herd bull hangs up some distance from the bugling hunter, the other hunter may get the shot.
Another hunting technique used by archery hunters is to do a soft cow call from the outskirts of the main herd.
This is to simulate a cow sneaking off from the main herd, causing the herd bull to race out to bring this stray cow back to the main herd. The hunter choses a good ambush spot and hopes the herd bull comes close enough for a shot. A cow decoy helps this setup.
If you are hunting in open terrain, in hills and coulees of Eastern Montana, some hunters like to hike to a pre-dawn vantage point and glass for elk.
When a herd is located, the hunters anticipates where the elk are headed to their day beds. The hunter then hustles to intercept the elk and get a shot.
Frequently this technique requires days of observing the elk as they move from their traditional morning feeding areas to their bedding area. Once you have learned their daily pattern, you choose a good ambush spot and hope the elk follow their normal travel pattern.
Iíve spent most of my hunting over the past two weeks chasing bull grouse. One good aspect of grouse hunting, is that a grouse packs-out a lot easier than a bull elk. Iíve bagged grouse in the Salish Mountains west of town and sharptails in Eastern Montana. In both locations, Iíve found grouse populations fewer than last year. We had a late cold wet spring. Grouses chicks do not survive well when hatched in cold wet spring weather.
But like all hunting, it is not the shooting or killing that is important, it is about getting out in our mountains and prairies in pleasant fall weather. Hunting is the excuse to go. Bagging some game is a sweet bonus.
In our over-regulated society, it is physically and mentally stimulating to get away from the everyday rat-race of people and devices controlling your life.
Just let the whim of the moment guide what to do when you are hunting. Itís absolutely good for your mental and physical well-being. Go hunting and have relaxing fun.