Tag Teaming Elk on an Archery Hunt

I often hear that it is very difficult to find elk, which can be true for many people, especially when hunting in a new area. However, if you spend time exploring and hiking, finding an elk shouldn’t be anyone’s problem. If you e-scout hard, understand animal behavior, and walk hard on your reconnaissance trip and hunts, you will find elk. The hardest part for me and a lot of hunters is getting within 100 yards of the elk and being able to get a kill shot with a bow. A partner is a great way to increase your chances and close out those last few yards in order to get a hit. Here are three partnering strategies that will help you ground a bull during the rut and beyond.

Partner call

Partner call

When most people think of partner hunting, they think of a shooter and caller setup. This can be a very deadly setup when used appropriately on a receptive elk looking to fight or get cows. Typically, a shooter stands slightly in the direction of the swing and slightly downwind in a path that a wary bull can use if he checks the wind on an approach. At the start of archery season, the use of cow calls seems to work more frequently than bugles; however, if a bull is excited, aggressive bellowing may work. Later in archery season, when a bull has a harem and cares about protecting his cows, the holler in combination with close-range cow cries just might be the ticket to bring him in. at bow range or muzzle loading. While partner calls like this work, there are other strategies partners can use to achieve success.

bugle and rod

Often in heavily hunted areas, bulls are skeptical and don’t come up against your call like you see on TV and YouTube. Often they stay put, trumpet back and wait for the cow or bull to come to them. It can create a sort of stalemate where you don’t want to budge and neither does he. You both know each other’s position, but neither is willing to back down. This is when a partner bugle and stalk setup works and should be a top pick in your playbook. To do it right, a hunter needs to hang back and turn the bull . To do this, I find good success starting with a weakling bugle with some cow cries. If he responds, cut him off. Then wait for it to trumpet and cut it again. If you really excite the bull, rake a tree and keep trumpeting as he responds. Once it is determined that he is unlikely to enter the setup, the shooter should begin a stalk downwind of the bull while the caller remains in relatively the same position. It’s the caller’s job to make the bull talk so the shooter knows where he is. It is then the shooter’s job to slowly stalk within range, keeping wind and cover between him and the bull. It is a very effective technique when a bull is reactive, but does not want to leave his cows or cross a barrier.

Double ambush

Double or even triple ambush is an excellent technique for killing moose. This involves strategically finding elk in their sleeping or feeding areas and settling on their travel route or near their escape and waiting routes. Of course, the wind must be good for all hunters in the area; however, the more hunters covering potential locations for elk to travel to, the better. A bonus is that if a hunter spooks or shoots an elk and the herd moves in a different way, another hunter could get shot. Pay attention to the elevation of the elk and try to find travel routes near that elevation heading into the wind. The herd will most likely move in that direction. The hardest part of ambushing elk is being patient and finding a spot where the wind is consistently blowing in the right direction.

Elk country

Hunting with a partner can make elk hunting so much fun. Hiking together and enjoying the misery of parched feet, legs, and mouths with a good conversation can make a fruitless hunt feel like a success. It’s easy for me to think that I’d rather hunt alone, find my own elk, and make my own moves and mistakes without asking anyone else’s permission; however, more often than not, a partner keeps you honest, patient, and will lead to more elk in the freezer and better memories. Try one of these partnership strategies or your own on your next elk hunt and see what works for you. If you have a good partner, it doesn’t matter if you kill an elk or they do it since you did it together. Make memories this year or next and hunt with a good partner.

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Earnest A. Martinez