The wide-open terrain found in some elk country is a great opportunity to put your optics and your stalking ability to the test. In many cases, spotting the elk is the easy part, but getting within bow range is tough, especially when a bull elk stays close to his harem. There are a lot of eyes to fool so a decoy can help shield your movements. It can also give the impression that a rogue cow is available to join the harem.
In the morning, get to a vantage point and start scanning the terrain for herds elk. A good technique when glassing the open range is to break the terrain up in grids. Take your time and study each grid carefully. Once you spot a viable target, plan the stalk using any available terrain features to your advantage. Your optics are key in planning your next move.
In the wide open terrain, break your glassing area into thirds and take your time
Decoys Are Key
A decoy like the RMEF Cow Decoy is the perfect tool to keep your frame hidden. Start making your way toward the herd with the decoy in front of you. When you get within earshot of the bull and his group of cows, stake the decoy into the ground or hang it from a tree limb. If hunting with a buddy, have him or her man the decoy. While you slip ahead 20 yards (use your optics and the wind to your advantage) to hide in any cover you can find. Once in a shooting position, start calling and wait for the bull to come corral what he thinks is another lady into his harem. If elk share the area with cattle or pronghorn get creative with your decoy. A Big Red Moo Cow or Eichler Antelope can also be used for cover and sometimes attract less attention than an elk decoy.
Don’t be afraid to move quickly
When bulls are focused on cows, you may find better success moving aggressively with a decoy in short bursts versus walking on eggshells. Use a “lost mew” call to get the bull’s attention. If he needs further convincing, a bull grunt can give the perception that there is competition in the area. Elk may move several miles each morning during the rut. They prefer moving in an uphill direction with the cool descending thermals in their face. It’s best to approach a herd from the side or rear. Never try to get in front of them, as they will likely smell you and be gone with the wind. For obvious safety reasons, use this tactic during archery only seasons.
“Lost mew” call or a “bull grunt” are two effective calling methods
Glassing On the Move
When trying to cover a lot of country there are times when glassing free hand is a must. But as we know, glassing free-hand has its challenges in keeping the TORIC Bino steady. Here’s a few tips to help when on the move:
-Invest in a Bino Harness. They keep the binocular close to your body and ready for quick use.
-Use your bow limb as a brace to keep the binos steady. Try it…It works better than you might think in keeping the image steady.
-If the decoy is set and you have time, resting your elbows on your knees is an effective way to minimize the greatest amount of movement. Having a decoy that easily stakes into the ground is key in having both hands free to glass.
The RMEF Elk sets up fast in any terrain and is an excellent shield when covering open ground. The head-on pose gives the bull a realistic view as you close the distance in a hurry. Check out this video from the folks at Outback Outdoors explaining the benefits of the Montana Decoy RMEF Elk decoy.