Often overlooked, a treestand over an elk hot spot may help you punch your tag this fall.
Tyler Henderson is a lifelong Idaho resident. When not spending time with his wife and three kids, he can usually be found in the mountains scouting or hunting elk, or shooting his bow. Henderson is a highly successful archery elk hunter. He is an expert at elk behavior and how to exploit it to his advantage, especially when it comes to ambushing them at their water sources. His knowledge provides invaluable research to HuntDIY and its followers.
In today’s digital world, it is easy to find information on elk hunting tactics. “Online experts” cover tactics like calling and decoying; the internet is saturated with information on these popular subjects. However, one elk hunting tactic that is overlooked is the use of a treestand over an elk hot spot.
Setting up a tree stand over a hot elk resource is one of my favorite elk hunting tactics. I have used this tactic to kill several bulls over the years. I’ve taken several big bulls from a tree stand overlooking a well-used water source, my preferred setup.
Over the years, I’ve used this method to my advantage. I will share a few tips below.
- Exploit Vulnerabilities
Elk are big animals and need water on a daily basis. Elk will hit a water source of some type every day. It may be a cattle tank or a small wallow in the middle of nowhere. To find where elk are likely to water, scouting is a must. Exploiting an elk’s vulnerability, especially their need for water, is a killer tactic.
- Scout Resources Online
In the off-season, I spend countless hours looking at Google Earth. My goal: locating potential bedding areas. Then, I search for potential water sources within a ¼ to ½ mile radius. I mark each spot in my Basemap app to investigate later.
If there is a small stream located in the area, I will always check the head of that stream. In my experience, elk seem to gravitate to the head of streams. It is not always the case, but in my opinion, it is always worth taking a look at.
- Target Well-used Resources
Elk live in a large variety of habitats, ranging from lush, dense forests to dry deserts, and several habitats in-between. In your scouting preparations, tie water sources to bedding areas. A well-used waterhole will generally be located a short distance from a good bedding area, usually within a ¼ to ½ mile.
Finding such a spot ensures legal shooting light when elk make their way from afternoon beds to the water source. On the flip side, in the mornings, elk will be traveling from their feeding grounds to bed after sunup, hopefully hitting the waterhole on their way to bed.
When your research is complete, it’s time to put boots on the ground. Visit potential resources and check each for relevant sign. With a little luck, you may find that perfect perch to kill an elk this fall.
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