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Jessie 23
August 8th, 2009, 10:54 PM
Hello my name is Jessie,
I am in the bitteroot valley is there anybody who could help my wife and I out? We have never hunted and we were braught into the bowhunting world by a couple of people who promised us to take us out and now have made other plans with seasoned hunters to take long trips to hunt for the season and have left us out in the cold. We have both baught new bows and all the hunting accessories that anybody could need and have found ourselves 3500 dollars in debt and will not give up now that we are in this far. I have been up scouting the skalkaho pass, big creek, 3mile,and bear creek and have not really found any signs of the much saught after Elk. I do understand that people will not give up there sacred hunting grounds but could somebody please adopt me as a hunting partner or steer us in the right direction please. Thanks,Jessie 23

August 10th, 2009, 01:47 PM
Jessie, I don't hunt in the bitterroot much but I'll give you a few general tips that may help. I'm a pretty novice elk hunter, but I read/watch everything I can get my hands on and have learned from a lot of mistakes in the elk woods. I'm not sure how much you've studied elk so far, so these will be pretty basic.

-If you know anyone w/ property in the valley, try to gain access. I've heard from a few other hunters that a lot elk have set up residence lower on the private land due to predation.

- how high are you scouting & how far off the road? Right now, the elk are hot. Most likely areas will north-facing slopes, sub-alpine terrain as high as you can get below the tree line . You want to be getting 3-5 miles off the road and off of the trails too... they're going to avoid areas where the hikers & their dogs are frequenting.
Pull out your topos & find some north slopes w/ some food & water that don't look very easy to access. Then check satellite photos for those coordinates to see what it looks like. I like to look for basins & drainages w/ dark timber for bedding w/ some adjacent open slopes for feeding.
High ridges w/ several finger ridges can be good too, b/c you can cover a lot of likely elk habitat.
Burn areas from a couple of years ago can be good too, providing ample food.

Then hit the ground, looking for fresh signs. If you can be glassing off a ridge when the sun comes up, you'll be in good shape for seeing elk move toward bedding. When you do find fresh sign, look around the area and try to determine if there are any likely patches of timber where they might bed down at during the day. Look for game trails they might consistently take from bed-water/food.
One of my favorite, quick scouting tactics is to find a drainage w/ little water and a seasonal stream. March up the stream, and you should have a pretty good idea what types of animals are in the area.
As Aug rolls along, watch for fresh rubs also.
Listen for cows chirping. You won't hear any bugles (and don't take yours out yet) but the cows make herding/locating sounds year round. It can be easy to mistake for birds chirping from a distance, but once you've heard a herd talking nearby, you'll know the difference.
At the same time, when you find sign, you don't want to drop too much stink all over the place & burn it out... better to take a look around, mark it on your GPS, then boogie out of there and hit the maps/satellite photos.

IMO, it's more important to find good elk habitat than actual elk at this time of year. Even if you find elk right now, there's no guarantee they'll be there in Sept... but if you know several spots that are good habitat, you can scout them a little closer to opening day.
When the season does open, don't waste time in an area that isn't producing. Remember that they are long-legged animals that cover a lot of terrain. If you've covered 10 miles your first day w/out any signs/sounds, move to your next spot.

If you haven't done so already, pick up some elk hunting books/videos and start studying. I really like Mike Lapinski's books and a lot of people here recommend Elknut's stuff.

Good luck & have fun!

Jessie 23
August 11th, 2009, 12:31 PM
Thanks for the tips hope that I get a chance to find a hunting partner. One that knows more than me Please let me know if you are down this way to hunt any time this year and we could get together. Thanks Jessie 23

August 11th, 2009, 06:42 PM
Couple of things...

IMO, you don't really need a partner. You and you're wife can totally do this on your own if you just learn a few things about scouting for elk first. And that's do-able before opening day if you put the time into it.

A partner can probably help you learn without making a bunch of rookie mistakes, but you'll also have to take turns being the caller, so you may never get a chance to take a shot.

If you really want a partner, probably the best thing you could do is start hanging out at Elusive Moose or whatever local range you like to shoot at and start talking to guys who look like they know what they're doing.

I'm assuming you're down by Hamilton, so I'm probably not the right guy for you, both in terms of location & lack of experience. But I may have a couple suggestions for you on the north end of the valley. They aren't honey holes by any means, but places where I have scouted in the past year, found elk habitat & signs, but haven't really had a chance to hunt.

Check your PM's.