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.
You’ve done all your homework, found the perfect hotspot, set it up to perfection, and now it is time to kill a bull. Now is the time for all your hard work and patience to pay off. For the ultimate success, follow these expert tips for shooting a bull from a treestand.
Tip One: Get the Angle
Hunting out of a tree stand for elk is somewhat of a controlled environment. With that in mind, there is no need to panic or be in a hurry to make a shot. When you rush the situation, bad things happen. You will have plenty of time to make a perfect shot on an unsuspecting bull. I try and take the first high percentage shot presented. Ideally, I want the bull to be completely broadside or just slightly quartering away. If I am not offered one of these angles, I will simply wait until the bull turns to offer me the angle I am looking for.
Tip Two: Comfortable and Accurate
I prefer to stand when I am shooting out of a tree stand. Therefore, I set up all my stands to be able to do this. I feel I am more stable shooting while standing up. The more stable I am, the more accurate I will be. A few of my hunting partners like to shoot while they are sitting down. That works for them. A perfect shot can be executed either way, just make sure you practice both ways to find which works best for you. The bottom line is to shoot whichever way you are most comfortable and accurate.
Tip Three: Aim High
Be aware that when shooting an elk out of a treestand, you will need to aim higher on the chest cavity than if you were shooting on level ground. Because of the downward angle, I try to hit high vitals on the near side and exit out the lower vitals on the opposite side. Because of this angle, I shoot a setup with a higher momentum so I am capable of passing through the opposite side. If I am unable to punch through that opposite side, the chest cavity will need to fill with blood before any significant blood loss will be spilled on the ground. If I get that second hole it is generally lower on the chest cavity giving me an almost immediate blood trail. This can make the tracking job a whole lot easier.
Tip Four: Call After the Shot
When I know that an opportunity for a shot is going to present itself, I have a diaphragm easily accessible so I can quickly slip it into my mouth. A reassuring cow call after the shot will usually keep the hit elk close by. In most cases, an elk does not know what has happened when shot. They may hear something, or they may feel something, but they truly do not know what has just taken place. A reassuring cow mew will often help put them at ease, slowing them down making the track job easier. Don’t hold back. I call for several minutes after the shot. The bull may have only run a short distance and stopped to try to figure out what’s going on. Several times I have been able to stop a bull on the run, allowing me to get a second shot off.
Final Thoughts on Expert Tips for Shooting
Elk hunting from a treestand is not for everyone. Some don’t have the patience to sit and wait for elk to arrive. They prefer to run and gun, chase elk. Others just prefer to have that interaction that only calling brings to a hunt. There is nothing wrong with that. Elk hunters should become well-rounded in all elk hunting techniques. Don’t be afraid to try something a little outside the box. Give treestand hunting for elk a try. It’s one of my favorite tactics to use to consistently kill bulls every fall.
Hunt DIY is a comprehensive resource for DIY hunting adventures. Zach Bowhay and other HuntDIY contributors share their knowledge and experiences from years of successful — and not-so-successful — hunts through articles with high-quality imagery and videos. Hunt DIY strives to show the average hunter — one with a busy lifestyle and on a modest budget — how to produce above-average results. Follow Zach Bowhay and his hunting friends and family into the backcountry.