5 Things to Know About Utah Elk Hunting
Utah has some of the best elk hunting in the world, and many hunters come to the state for a shot at a bull. This makes ownership of a hunting ranch near the mountains very appealing for landowners.
Prior to the elk hunting season, which starts in the fall, it helps to know that elk hunting is much more challenging than other game, like deer. Making the right preparations is crucial to success, so here are five things to keep in mind prior to fall.
- Permit Draws and Landowner Tags
Permit draw applications for elk in Utah are limited in supply. One way around this is to get a landowner tag. For elk, there are two types of landowner vouchers: general season and Cooperative Wildlife Management Units (CWMU).
General season units are for those who own at least 640 continuous acres, and they are only good for their ranch, plus public land within the unit. Also, they mayonly be given to family members; they cannot be sold to other people.
The CWMU tags for elk require that you own at least 10,000 continuous acres and are only good for the ranch they were issued for. These can be sold.
- Mind Where You Camp
If an elk sees you, it might stare you down for a bit and then ignore you. However, once it smells you, it will bolt. Camping in the middle of an elk herd will only drive them away, especially in areas where the wind doesn’t stay in one direction.This also goes for stalking a herd. Once you’ve found it, stay downwind and wait until you have a good opportunity to take one down.
- Get in Shape
Elk travel through very rough terrain at high elevations. In addition, they aren’t as easy to find as deer, so be ready for a long, hard hike.Lose weight, get your endurance up, and be ready to haul a hefty load of meat afterward.
- Be Well Equipped
A .270 rifle might be great for deer, but an elk will keep walking for quite a while after a shot from a deer rifle. The minimum caliber for elk hunting is .300 if you hope to make your shots count—and they will need to count.
In addition to having the right amount of firepower, you’ll need good optics to spot them. Bring high-powered binoculars, a spotting scope, and a variable rifle scope that will allow for maximum range. Skimping on optical equipment could lead you to miss many opportunities to find a herd.You’ll also need to be equipped for a long hike. Don’t pack too much (you’ll be moving around a lot), but be sure you’re ready for several days of hiking at least.
- Prepare to Handle the Meat
Elk are large, so be ready to handle the meat. This means transporting it (much easier if you have horses), preserving it, and taking care of it in the field.
Of course, the task of keeping the meat long-term is a bit simpler if you shoot it on your own land. A number of ranches for sale in Utah are well-located for elk hunting, making them great opportunities for recreational and sporting returns.