For some hunters, the hunting season begins with a trip west searching for elk. Many western states begin their elk seasons at the end of August or sometime in September. The late-summer start is typically one to two months earlier than deer season in most hunters’ home states, and this earlier starting date is why eager hunters often head west for their first hunt of the year. They have high hopes of punching their elk tag early, setting the stage for continued success throughout the remainder of the year.
While these first hunts of the season are full of excitement, they often begin with hunters forgetting essential gear, making mental mistakes, and having the first-hunt jitters. If traveling for an elk hunt marks the beginning of your hunting season, don’t let your excitement interfere with proper planning and preparation. Below are a few essential items that should not be left behind.
Quality optics are essential for elk hunting. Many seasoned elk hunters carry at least 10X power binoculars, such as the Vortex Razor HD in a 10 X 50. The 10X binoculars allow viewing elk from a long distance when rifle hunting, yet still allow for close-range viewing when bowhunting elk.
If searching for elk from a distance, a spotting scope is recommended. A spotting scope is typically used with a small tripod that gives the hunter a solid rest for the high-powered optic to scan areas slowly without missing game.
Remember to pack your rangefinder, too. It’ll help you judge distances accurately in unfamiliar territory. The rugged terrain in the mountains or western states can easily fool the hunter when judging distance, so don’t take any chances. Using a rangefinder before the shot helps ensure an accurate shot and a clean harvest.
Scent Control Clothing and Ozone Storage
Many elk hunts take place on public land or in higher elevations. Access to luxuries such as running water, washing machines, and dryers aren’t available while hunting these areas.
An elk is like a whitetail deer; they have a fantastic sense of smell. When hunts continue for days and hunters cannot wash their clothes or have the chance to take a hot shower, things can become quite foul.
To help fight odors, hunters should first wear garments with odor protection. The Blocker Outdoors Silentec Jacket and Pant are ideal for elk hunters. The Silentec garments feature fabric that mechanically stretches for extreme mobility when hiking up and down the mountains. The smooth face and hexagonal fleece are deadly silent. Plus, Silentec features S3 Technology, silver ions that bind and penetrate the surface of odor-causing bacteria on contact. Silver ions also prevent new odors from forming. Both features help get closer to elk when hunting.
Another essential item for hunting areas with no access to modern technology is an ozone storage bag such as the ScentLok BE:1 8K Ozone Bag and Radial Nano Combo. The 8K bag is large enough to hold multiple days' worth of hunting garments and is the first-ever ozone gear bag that uses two different methods of destroying odors, featuring both Carbon Alloy for odor adsorption and an included Radial Nano ozone generator for odor destruction.
Quality Hunting Boots And Extra Socks
Steep, rocky terrain can devastate a hunter's feet. If a large amount of walking and climbing is in the forecast for your next elk hunt, a quality pair of hunting boots like the Danner Recurve is vital. The Recurves provide the hunter with a Vibram SPE midsole and TPU heel clip to ensure multiple hours of comfort while hunting. Seven inches of height for ankle support and advanced waterproofing technology provide the perfect features to keep the hunter comfortable all day.
After finding a well-designed hunting boot that will withstand the extreme punishment that elk hunting brings, remember to pack multiple pairs of quality socks. When in a temporary hunting camp, there is nothing more refreshing than to come in from hunting and change into a warm pair of fresh socks. The same goes for when starting the day hunting. When the hunter can begin the hunt with a fresh pair of socks, it sets the tone for all-day comfort and success in the field. ScentLok makes some of the best socks I’ve found. The Ultralight Merino Subcrew model combines the natural antimicrobial qualities of merino wool with Silver Alloy and moisture wicking technologies to keep feet fresh and comfortable. A wide variety of models and weights are available.
Effective packing is one of the keys to a successful elk hunt. So, take the time to make a list of the key gear you’ll need and make sure the items I’ve mentioned are on that list.