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More Ways to Take Bull Elk

Day 5: Top 10 Wolf Hunting Tips for Elk Hunters

Click for Larger ViewWolves have become problems in some states as predators on elk. In an online questionnaire about their wolf-hunting experiences, members of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation have offered valuable tips to help more hunters enjoy the challenge and fill their wolf tags this fall. The RMEF members’ goal in sharing this information is simple: More successful wolf hunters mean better balance in areas where undermanaged predator populations are impacting elk and other wildlife.

“Elk are the inspiration behind our organization’s 6 million-plus acres of habitat conservation,” says David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. No conservation group has a membership more invested in elk country, more affected by wolves or more passionate about achieving balance. That’s why RMEF members are eager to share their collective experience in a type of hunting still new to most of us. In parts of the northern Rockies, burgeoning numbers of wolves, bears and lions are compounding habitat issues, all contributing to elk-calf survival rates too low to sustain elk herds for the future. RMEF continues to conserve habitat, while supporting litigation and legislation to clear the way for wolf management via hunting. But wolves are providing a challenge that can make adequate population control easier said than done. Of the 710 respondents to the questionnaire, less than 7 percent killed a wolf during the inaugural hunting seasons in Idaho and Montana.

Lack of success was not for lack of trying. Half of the respondents spent 8 or more days afield in 2011 with their eyes peeled for wolves. More than 60 percent of respondents said wolf sign was plentiful in their hunting area, while another 27 percent encountered some tracks, scat, vocalizations, etc. Yet only 47 percent of respondents actually saw a wolf. Among those who bagged a wolf, 20 percent credited their success to a coincidental encounter with their quarry. Calling, watching and waiting in a likely area and stalking were reported as the most-productive proactive hunting strategies for wolves.

Here are the top-10 wolf-hunting tips from the RMEF member questionnaire:

Click for Larger View1) Stay close to elk. If you can find a herd of elk, especially a herd a mile or more from a road, wolves will show-up.

2) Pattern wolves like other game. Scouting will help you find travel routes, crossings, etc. Wolves tend to take the easy paths: roads, trails and frozen lakes.

3) Get hunting permission from private landowners. Lots of landowners are happy to have wolf hunters, and your hunting wolves may lead to other hunting opportunities down the road.

4) Never shoot a collared wolf. Collars are needed to track the packs and funding for wolf-collaring is getting tighter. Most wolf hunters want to shoot a big trophy male, but taking females is better for population control.

5) Go on more hunts specifically for wolves, not for wolves as a byproduct of another hunt. (Only 11 percent of respondents hunted exclusively for wolves; most hunted for wolves as part of a deer or an elk hunt.)

6) Use howling to locate wolves, but too-much howling by inexperienced callers can educate wolves. Elk calf, fawn-in-distress and coyote calls work well. Also try moose calls.

Click for Larger View7) Set-up on high ground when calling, not in a hole or depression. Visibility is a key. Consider using a blind. Wolves seem to spot blaze orange from a great distance.

8) Concentrate on bad-weather days for wolf hunting. Wolves are more reckless in their pursuit of prey when the weather’s colder.

9) Watch for birds – magpies, gray jays or ravens – as tipoffs to fresh kill locations. Approach carefully, and watch the area for returning wolves. Consider using a tree stand. A driving technique with a group of hunters also can work.

10) Stay put once you kill a wolf. Other wolves from the pack often return to the site, sometimes very quickly. You or a buddy may get a chance at a second wolf.

Click for Larger ViewDozens more ideas and observations from RMEF members are posted at Also you can go to to learn more about the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

PhD ElkSecrets for Hunting ElkTo learn more about elk hunting, click the title for “PhD Elk” and “Secrets for Hunting Elk” new eBooks for Amazon Kindle by John E. Phillips. Or, you can go to and type-in the names of the books to find them. You also can download a free Kindle app that enables you to read the book on your iPad, computer or SmartPhone.

Check back each day this week for more about "More Ways to Take Bull Elk"

Day 1: Getting Close to Take Big Bow Bull Elk with Phillip Vanderpool
Day 2: Take All Your Calls on Elk Hunts with Phillip Vanderpool
Day 3: Big Bull Elk in New Mexico with Nationally-Known Alex Rutledge
Day 4: Calling-in Big Bull Elk in Utah with Al Morris
Day 5: Top 10 Wolf Hunting Tips for Elk Hunters

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Entry 677, Day 5