My advice is to have fun and enjoy yourself. Take it all in and appreciate the beauty of the places were elk roam. Be aggressive and give it your best shot, but remember to enjoy the ride. Try not to get to caught up with the frustrations that can come with elk hunting as your last day on the mountain is a good as your first.
As far as states of choice go, CO & Idaho have respectable populations as do others but these have easily obtainable OTC tags. With a bit of research & a few well placed calls to the local biologist in areas of interest you can quickly narrow down a few possibilities to hunt. Don't wait for that special draw tag & go into it with little to no experience in archery elk hunting, take advantage of elk hunting previous to it! Here's a couple of thoughts to consider no matter where you decide to elk hunt!
KEEPING IT SIMPLE!!!
To do well on your elk hunt it isn't necessary to be the best caller out there or the most knowledgeable in the field about elk habits & mannerisms. But what you do work on, have it down well. Practice before your hunt diligently on a variety of cow sounds, pitch & tone variation, some sounds will be short & others a bit longer, include calf chirps & mews into your practice sessions.
I would seriously concern yourself with "setups" I call them "Cold or Blind Calling" setups, it's sorta like "trolling" for elk. These are very easy to master & more importantly highly effective yet very doable for newer & veteran elk hunters. When working these "setups" off roaded areas we simply pick a spot, get into the woods where we feel is a good area & sound can carry & call. If nothing productive happens go another 1/2 to 3/4 mile & repeat, continue on until you get action, it won't take long! (grin) Here's how to do it!
Do your best to setup where the wind is in your favor as to where you feel elk should approach from. Also make absolutely sure your setup is one where elk CANNOT look over your way & see where sounds are coming from but be OUTSIDE your effective range! When possible I like setting up where I have obstructions or large openings behind me where the wind could possibly give me up. Elk generally will avoid openings or these obstructions on their way over. Do not take these words for granted it is extremely important that elk cannot wind you or see where the sounds are coming from BEFORE they get into your bowrange!
Setups as this can be accomplished by yourself or with multiple hunters by being 20-30-40 yards apart. Start with light cow calling as if you are entering an area a few at a time & slowly escalate a mixture of cow/calf sounds & tones over a 2-3 minute period as if you were a small herd feeding & milling around & now have come to a "holding" area. Hopefully elk are within earshot, elk can be a mile away in any direction yet selective sounds & setups can pull them your way. By injecting a single cow giving off pre-estrus or excited sounds 3-5 on mid to low volume in a 15 second span & no more you are now showing other elk that there is a cow in the mix possibly feeling urges of estrus or coming into heat as she is a bit restless. Add some light stomping & rustling branches & brush, roll rocks to make it real now & then throughout your stay. This can attract both cows & bulls alike as elk are herd animals & can become very curious as to who these others are in the area that they're not familiar with.
After 5-10 minutes of this off & on communication of this supposed group of cows, now inject a small bull or cow bugle, (this is optional) Yes, cows bugle in small groups as this, other elk know this! At times this is all that's needed to attract curious nearby elk & can really sell the bill of goods as authentic!
If you feel the need to pick it up a notch & want to create some serious excitement go through the above cow calling sequence. This time leave out the small bull/cow bugles! Instead you are going to imitate a moving unsettled herd with the herd bull talking & scolding his cows to stay near, cows have a mind of their own & need constant attention as they feel restless. A bull will use pants, glunking, chuckling & short roundup screams to maintain control over this nervous herd. We will use this in a setup with all the above things mentioned in a 15 min calling sequence. All the other additional natural sounds must be employed here in addition to your calling. When imitating the bull sounds be sure to move around 15-20yds in a pacing action, this will really make it real along with the other sounds in play! This can really create the illusion of excitement to any elk around, they will want to join the "party"!!!!! Elk can come in thundering or extremely silent & some come in very vocal out of nowhere, so be 100% alert & stay in that spot even after winding down the calling sequence similar as you started up to 45min-1-hr. No matter the method you choose it is important to give enough time for things to develop & bring curious elk your way, stay put up to an hour after these Blind/Cold Calling Setups & have an arrow nocked, things can happen fast!
Elknut has some great advice.. I think the number one mistake that people make is not coming to the hunt physically prepared. All your planned strategies and tactics mean nothing if you cant hang with the elk. It really doesnt matter how good of shape you think your in. Its not good enough. I've hunted with guys who are built like an ox and claim to be in the best shape of their life. After two days in the high country they are done due to the fact of lack of endurance. Strength is important. Endurance is even more improtant. So..Cardio cardio cardio. You will have a much better hunt.
Ohh yeah...Dont wait till August 1st to start your training. Start now and be ready by August 1st. Then keep it light the last couple weeks of august and have those muscles fresh by the opener. I'm 36 and I put myself through a pretty serious workout regimine prior to elk hunting. I'm usually good for about 4 days of really hard hunting and then need a day or two to recover.
I can't tell you how much Elk Nuts Playlist book has helped me to call in more bulls, just by knowing what they are saying and what to say back. If I could give one piece of advice, read the playlist many many times.
if it were me i'd buy an OTC E/S tag. seems to me that would increase your odds of success and then you can hunt both even if it is a couple hundred more bucks. and you never know. guys have killed big bulls there first time out. but thats just me. you've already got Pauls stuff so you've already increased your odds over guys that don't have his stuff by shortening the learning curve. i know you're gonna take your calls with you and do some calling so you may as well be ready for either a cow or a bull and take whatever opportunity you have to kill an elk.
I Love the smell of Elk in the mornin
The arrow is everything
BeetleGuy, thanks! Which DVD do you have? I will 2nd getting in shape too that Elkcrazed mentions, it cannot be emphasized too much! (grin)
Ruttin, thank you for the feedback Sir! The ElkNuts PlayBook has served many well since its arrival.
I also should add that the methods I suggested will work for the entire month of Sept. They will work well even if the bulls aren't talking as you will be either generating curiosity with the 1st method or creating excitement with the 2nd method! Neither are extremely popular to pull herd bulls in your way, but as you mention you would be happy with any elk, these methods can accomplish this if you do your part!
If it happens you get into bulls bugling do your best to setup aprox 150-200yds out, if you can get closer because both wind direction is in your favor & cover is available then do so. Once setup use the 2nd method, it is designed to create interest & excitement, you most generally will pull in spikes or younger branched bulls 1st as they have that teenager mentality & will want to check you out. If with another hunter have the shooter up from the designated caller aprox 30-60yds with good wind where you expect the elk to show. With the shooter in position & an arrow nocked the shooter can go ahead & add a 3-4 nice whiny cow mews himself as the caller in back gives off his calling sequence, then the shooter doesn't want to call anymore, the seed is planted & his job is done, he no longer whats to give away his position to oncoming elk as the rest of the calling will be by the designated caller. The caller should also keep his eyes peeled & an arrow nocked as many times a bull can come in silent from the back-door or from his side so be alert!---- If the shooter needs to stop his elk for the shot there is no better sound than the Popping/Nervous grunt & with practice this can be done with ones voice or a mouth reed keeping ones hands free!
If you are alone go through your sequence rather quickly as you gauge the vocalness of a bull coming your way as you will want to move up from your spot you called from aprox 30yds or so & setup & DO NOT CALL from that spot other that to stop an elk for the shot! Allow oncoming elk to go into search mode from the sounds they heard! Be patient & stay put & do not move around or get figidity or you will be spotted! Stay there a good 30 min or so!
Of course there's always sitting water or an active wallow! If in a new area you may waste too much time looking for such places so go with the Blind/Cold calling setups! Good Luck!
ElkNut, I have Bugling Bulls and Beyond 1-4. Thought that might be a good start. Want to get your play book as well. I have to wait till I have rebuilt my Euro mount (beetle) and hydro dipping biz back up. Late spring I should be up and running again... After that, WATCH OUT ELK! Or maybe I should be watching out for my wife lol J/K She wants me to take some time out in the woods...She does support me in a lot of the things that I do...
One the physical side of things, I do spend a lot of time trail running and I was doing a lot of weight training (getting away from that) Going to start doing more core training and using my body weight (225 #s @ 6')to achieve my goals. Puts me in a better state of mind. I do hike, but not enough. So I will adding that to what I already do. Planning to build my strength with adding weight to my pack. Heck I'll even put my 5 year old in my pack...
I think my only concern is that I will not be able to get all my gear that I need and have any money to actually go on an elk trip. If there is a will there is always away. I will keep my head up and do a lot of praying. I must have something I can sell! No, my kids are not for sale!!! Actually, what am I looking at for gear. I have my bow, arrows, and all that. I need my pack, and what should I have in my pack? Say a bivy setup. Take my camp everywhere I go... Cost on that? How about an otc tag, cost? Calls? Game bags?