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Thread: West Kootenay Elk Hunters

  1. #1
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    Nov 2016
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    West Kootenay Elk Hunters

    Okay folks, this isn't an MU specific show me your honey holes kinda post. I thought it'd be interesting to discuss WK Elk habitat, patterns and behavior in general. I've had WK success but find the area TOUGH and unique compared to other spots.

    Would love to strike up some conversation in general observations through the years so we can all learn and be successful from calling to tactics specific to the west koots from pre rut to post rut. Where do they hang out, what time of season are you most successful with certain types of calls etc.

    Happy hunting.

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  3. #2
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    Oct 2018
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    Re: West Kootenay Elk Hunters

    I would like to know tactics for finding them mid-season, when you aren't hearing any bugles back. (My summer scouting spots didn't pan out come sept.) It is such thick country, I feel overwhelmed! I'm thinking the best play is to get a good vantage, and try to glass the cuts. I just don't know how long to spend in an area, or if the area I'm in even has them at this time of year. After I stalked up to 40yds on 2 immature bulls last year on a chance encounter on foot, and bugled back and forth with a bull, I'm desperate to learn more to make that more repeatable. My mentor died when I was young, and so I only have the one elk spot he showed me out in more open woodland a few hours away from where I live. I'd like to learn to find my own/ have some closer back ups. Any suggestions appreciated.

  4. #3
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    Re: West Kootenay Elk Hunters

    Thanks for the comment! If you're talking about lack of bugles this season, it sure has been quiet. Most people I've talked to this year have said the action has been really slow with the odd morning getting answers. I've been up and down a lot of different drainages from valley bottom to alpine with few to no answers besides last weekend where I was able to get a spike to call back, although it was pretty weak. I've put in about 15 days of hunting and they aren't in my usual spots.

    Honestly I think it's a bit of a different year with how warm it's been, I get the feeling it's not that they aren't calling or responding, they're just not where I'm used to running into them. It's sending me further into the backcountry this weekend to hopefully locate a legal bull.

    Three weeks ago I was cow calling and able to get in on three seperate groups of cows (8-10 in each) and thought for sure I was going to have a good opportunity. No bulls with them, a week goes by and poof. No cows, no fresh sign, scoured the entire mountain for two days and it's like the bulls came and walked them outta there out of reach unless I commit to a 5+ km packout over really tough terrain.

    For locating, something that's worked for me in the past is finding high vantage points and calling after dark.
    Last edited by Dtripp09; 09-29-2022 at 12:36 PM.

  5. #4
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    Re: West Kootenay Elk Hunters

    Quote Originally Posted by Dtripp09 View Post
    Thanks for the comment! If you're talking about lack of bugles this season, it sure has been quiet. Most people I've talked to this year have said the action has been really slow with the odd morning getting answers. I've been up and down a lot of different drainages from valley bottom to alpine with few to no answers besides last weekend where I was able to get a spike to call back, although it was pretty weak. I've put in about 15 days of hunting and they aren't in my usual spots.

    Honestly I think it's a bit of a different year with how warm it's been, I get the feeling it's not that they aren't calling or responding, they're just not where I'm used to running into them. It's sending me further into the backcountry this weekend to hopefully locate a legal bull.

    Three weeks ago I was cow calling and able to get in on three seperate groups of cows (8-10 in each) and thought for sure I was going to have a good opportunity. No bulls with them, a week goes by and poof. No cows, no fresh sign, scoured the entire mountain for two days and it's like the bulls came and walked them outta there out of reach unless I commit to a 5+ km packout over really tough terrain.

    For locating, something that's worked for me in the past is finding high vantage points and calling after dark.
    I too have found the warm weather to have changed their habits from last year...my partner and I went up to the spot where I shot a bull last year in tge high country and they were nowhere to be found, with no sign that was semi recent...

    We were able to locate a herd down lower in a completely different drainage, but they weren't vocalizing until the last day of our trip, which was one bull did only 1 location bugle (which unfortunately for us was only a 5 pt), and then the whole herd including 2 bulls were vocalizing on the last night (but we weren't able to get eyes on them through the thick timber and weren't able to get them to step out in legal light)...we were out Sept 10-16th...

    The West reg4 has some very thick country..

  6. #5
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    Re: West Kootenay Elk Hunters

    Quote Originally Posted by HarryToolips View Post
    I too have found the warm weather to have changed their habits from last year...my partner and I went up to the spot where I shot a bull last year in tge high country and they were nowhere to be found, with no sign that was semi recent...

    We were able to locate a herd down lower in a completely different drainage, but they weren't vocalizing until the last day of our trip, which was one bull did only 1 location bugle (which unfortunately for us was only a 5 pt), and then the whole herd including 2 bulls were vocalizing on the last night (but we weren't able to get eyes on them through the thick timber and weren't able to get them to step out in legal light)...we were out Sept 10-16th...

    The West reg4 has some very thick country..
    Ah too bad on the 5pt, happens! Interesting to keep hearing anecdotally about it being a quiet year. It certainly feels like the rut is happening/happened later than in previous years. Or they collectively decided to rut in secret somewhere.

  7. #6
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    Re: West Kootenay Elk Hunters

    Harry,
    Your this years hunt sounds all too familiar.
    They can be vocal for a week, sometimes near the opening of the season, then they can stay quiet for a couple of weeks and then Perk up again.
    They can be there one year at a certain time, and other times weeks late if already gone by by the time you hit the area.
    Some years there are plent around, and sometimes the numbers just aren’t there.
    You can have plenty around, but can’t dig out a 6pt and sometimes it’s almost dead but there’s a 6pg standing right in front of you.

    Its sounds like for now though, you have an area that has potential and worth going back to.
    Only difference on your outcome if success is only if you can’t go back repeatedly in the same year.
    Plent if times I have left knowing that given a few more days, that things were changing, the outcome would certainly have been more if a success.

    Picking the right date, if you only have a 1 shit window ahead of time is always tricky.
    The weather just can’t be predicted that far in advance, but can make a big difference.
    Those that can go back week after week generally get that opportunity to atleast time it right.

  8. #7
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    Re: West Kootenay Elk Hunters

    Quote Originally Posted by Dtripp09 View Post
    Ah too bad on the 5pt, happens! Interesting to keep hearing anecdotally about it being a quiet year. It certainly feels like the rut is happening/happened later than in previous years. Or they collectively decided to rut in secret somewhere.
    Absolutely, and that's hunting, point restrictions can promote conservation and sustainable hunting .. it's the way the dice roll sometimes..

  9. #8
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    Re: West Kootenay Elk Hunters

    Quote Originally Posted by Bugle M In View Post
    Harry,
    Your this years hunt sounds all too familiar.
    They can be vocal for a week, sometimes near the opening of the season, then they can stay quiet for a couple of weeks and then Perk up again.
    They can be there one year at a certain time, and other times weeks late if already gone by by the time you hit the area.
    Some years there are plent around, and sometimes the numbers just aren’t there.
    You can have plenty around, but can’t dig out a 6pt and sometimes it’s almost dead but there’s a 6pg standing right in front of you.

    Its sounds like for now though, you have an area that has potential and worth going back to.
    Only difference on your outcome if success is only if you can’t go back repeatedly in the same year.
    Plent if times I have left knowing that given a few more days, that things were changing, the outcome would certainly have been more if a success.

    Picking the right date, if you only have a 1 shit window ahead of time is always tricky.
    The weather just can’t be predicted that far in advance, but can make a big difference.
    Those that can go back week after week generally get that opportunity to atleast time it right.
    Ya it's unfortunate I don't live in that particular area that I elk hunt, so we only had that week to hunt it... the 2 bulls on the last night were pretty fired up though...

  10. #9
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    Re: West Kootenay Elk Hunters

    Quote Originally Posted by HarryToolips View Post
    Ya it's unfortunate I don't live in that particular area that I elk hunt, so we only had that week to hunt it... the 2 bulls on the last night were pretty fired up though...
    Yup, you can be there and nothing seems to be going on, can’t find a damn thing etc.
    Like one season, we went 5 days straight, then one morning had a small 3 pt come out, cross the road, and give me a whistle, and that was it for the whole day.
    6th day no different in the morning, but went back in the afternoon just because o felt that little bull couldn’t be too far from other elk.
    Well, almost at the top, and I hear a bugle, then another bull beyond him bugles.
    And then from the opposite direction, another bull bugles and a 4th one beyond him.
    And I hadn’t done a damn thing yet, hadn’t even tried a bugle at that point.
    So, 6 full days and basically nothing, 1 sighting, spent everyday in there, either morning or night or both.
    And suddenly they are there and they have themselves all fired up (as you say).
    Go figure?

  11. #10
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    Oct 2015
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    Re: West Kootenay Elk Hunters

    Seems it's going to be another year with many illegally downed 5 points in that region. Good on you for making sure & taking a pass on the one you spotted.

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