Will this be the year? Did you draw that tag? It is hard to hunt elk, and there are definitely no guarantees. If you are out to make your challenge harder by hunting elk with a bow or it simply was the best to get the tags, then you have your work cut out for you. To prepare, you are going to have to not only dial yourself in, but you will need to dial in your bow hunting equipment specifically for elk.
As previously mentioned, it isn’t easy to bow hunt elk. Television shows often may it look easy, but it isn’t. If you’re gearing up, keep reading to learn more about setting up your archery equipment as well as yourself so that you are ready to bow hunt elk as soon as the time comes.
Many first-time bow hunters of elk assume that they need the largest, heaviest, and hardest bow to bring down the elk. This is and is not true. However, what your focus should be on is accuracy and penetration.
A 60- to 70-pound bow that’s dependable, fast, and accurate is more than enough to bring down a big bull. However, these are big, strong-willed animals, so it is important that you train and draw the heaviest weight you are able to handle comfortably without sacrificing on accuracy. You must be precise, though the arrow energy must be at its maximum potential once it reaches the animal. What this means is that you need to have the 60 to 70 pounds of draw weight and be able to shoot at 40 yards consistently and accurately. While it is true that bow hunters can, and often will, shoot elk at distances farther than 40 to 60 yards, 40 yards or less is the ideal distance.
Other than distance, when talking about arrow energy and penetration, the things that must be taken into consideration go beyond your compound bow. Therefore, when it comes to setting your bow hunting equipment up for elk, the two most important things that you should consider include accuracy and penetration. Once the bow has been setup initially, it all boils down selecting the right broadhead for the animal that you are hunting.
If penetration and accuracy are two things that you should be focused on, which broadhead should you choose? Is there one style of broadhead that is better for elk? Should you give up a little accuracy for additional cutting diameter, or maybe the opposite? Is there a happy medium between the two? All of these questions and more will come up as you try to choose the right broadhead for bow hunting elk. However, like many things in archery, it will come down to your personal preferences, though each style will have its advantages and disadvantages. Which one is the best for elk? When it comes down to it, regardless of how much advice you’ve been given or how many articles you have read, it will be up to you.
A lot of elk bow hunters will opt for a G5 Striker or G5 Montec broadhead simply due to the reliability. Since penetration is among the most important things to consider when partaking in elk bow hunting, some hunters will select a slimmer broadhead with less drag and friction that they often get with fixed blade broadheads. However, if it takes a lot of time and effort to plan, find, prepare, purpose, and create the opportunity with an elk, you want to ensure that when you make contact with the elk that it is dead. Fixed blade broadheads will get the job done and have for years. There is zero opening or deploying, and it is straightforward on contact reliability. Broadheads like the G5 Montec are not only reliable, but they are incredibly sharp, are deadly accurate, fly straight, and are steel tough.
When speaking of penetration, you tend to think about forgiveness. Mechanical broadheads today offer a slim design and extreme cutting diameters for superior accuracy. However, some of these broadheads have left behind a bad taste as a result of poor performance, inadequate penetration, or mechanical failure. Some of them receive this negative report as a result of taking considerable energy out of the arrow on deployment and contact; however, recent mechanicals like the G5 Havoc are designed to cut on contact, which helps to reduce how much energy is lost on contact, ensuring plenty of accuracy, forgiveness, and penetration as well as a faster expiration with a significant cutting diameter.
Though you may have considerable experience bow hunting whitetail deer, it is a completely different experience bow hunting elk. You may be extremely excited and assume you will get in lots of practice prior to your bow hunting trip, the likelihood of getting to practice as much as you need is slim—at least with the right specifics or training that you need to consider. Here are some differences between bow hunting whitetail deer and elk that you will experience.
One of the biggest considerations that must be taken into account is your shooting position. With whitetail hunting, you generally shoot in ideal conditions—or at least a standard, elevated shooting position. However, bow hunting elk means that anything at all can and will occur. Difficult terrain, steep slopes, and varying vegetation and habitat means you will never know the type of shot that will be needed.
If you practice prior to your hunting trip, attempt to simulate the shots. Locate some steer terrain and attempt shooting sitting down, standing up, on your knees, as well as other shots that may have you uncomfortable or off guard. Try to also practice shooting around and in brush. As a hunter, you know what is and isn’t an ethical shot, so practice what’s acceptable.
Though most shot opportunities for whitetail deer will typically be between 10 and 30 yards when hunting with a bow, there will be fewer yet farther shots when bow hunting elk. Again, 40 yards or less is ideal, though it is recommended to practice for more. If you practice consistently at about 60 yards with a few shots at 40 and 50 yards each time you practice, you will feel more comfortable at all of those distances. When a large target—you know, that big bull—shows up about 40 yards away, you will feel more than comfortable to shoot at it.
Apart from your shooting position, your shooting condition will vary from whitetail hunting. Shooting conditions aren’t referring to terrain, slope, habitat, stance, etc., rather it is referring to your mental and physical state. When you’re bow hunting elk, you will be worn out, exhausted, beat, and quite possibly not in the proper mindset to take the shot when you finally get the chance to take it. Getting in shape to hunt elk is a discussion for another time, but it is important to take the time to practice shooting while you are out of breath as well as in a worn out and tired state of mind. After you train, work out, or run, grab your bow and start shooting. Doing so will help you learn to control your breathing, calm your body down, and take the shot.
Ultimately, the only thing you can is prepare and plan, and it is up to you to make sure that you’re ready for success as soon as the perfect opportunity presents itself. Regardless of seized opportunities, missed opportunities, success, or failure, at the end of the day, make sure that you remember that you’ve gotten to participate in a fantastic hunt and created memories that will last a lifetime.
If you have any questions, contact us at Full Draw Archery.
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