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John's Journal... Entry 122, Day 1


How Puppe Became An Elk-Hunting Guide

EDITOR'S NOTE: Steve Puppe, a member of the Mossy Oak Hunt Team, grew up in the wildlife-rich hills of southeastern Minnesota in Hamilton. At a very young age Puppe followed in his father's footsteps as they hunted white-tailed deer. As Puppe became older, he branched out into wild turkey hunting and competition calling, winning numerous state and national titles, including nine state championships. For the past 25 years, Puppe has been very fortunate to gain a wealth of hunting knowledge and experience, which has given him the opportunity to be featured in several hunting videos and national magazines. He currently is a co-host of the popular television series "Outdoor Expeditions" on the Outdoor Channel. Puppe enjoys sharing his knowledge and experience with hunters -- young and old alike. During his seminars, Puppe shares tactics that have proven successful for him to consistently harvest numerous Pope & Young whitetails, maturing spring gobblers and bugling bull elk. This week Puppe will tell us about his experiences hunting elk and will walk us through some of the most- overlooked steps to elk-hunting success.

QUESTION: How long have you been guiding elk hunters?
ANSWER: Actually, I don't guide very often. Mostly, I just go on the hunt and film. I've guided hunters over the past 4 or 5 years on a part-time basis. But I generally help other guides when they need more man power. In the fall of 2001, an outfitter friend of mine asked me to help him out, so I kind of fell into full-time guiding.

QUESTION: And this is in Hamilton, Minnesota?
ANSWER: I'm guiding in Darby, Minnesota, which is about 20 miles away.

QUESTION: Having hunted elk and guided elk hunters for many years, what would you say are the 5 biggest mistakes elk hunters make?
ANSWER: The first mistake elk hunters make is not having enough patience. Elk hunting is a challenge. Hunters can't expect to walk into the woods in the morning, spot an elk and take him before lunchtime. You may spot three or four elk before you have an opportunity to shoot a bull. Your hunt even may last all day. The second common mistake is moving in too close to an elk. Again, you have to be patient and wait for a good shot. Another mistake is not playing into the wind. To be a successful elk hunter, you must play into the wind. And if the wind is wrong, you have to back out and wait until everything is just right. Getting too excited is the fourth mistake elk hunters make. Elk hunting is much like turkey hunting. You have to relax, because when a big bull comes in bugling, you need to control your nerves. The final mistake is probably that hunters aren't physically prepared for an elk hunt. An elk hunt is grueling work. I can't put enough emphasis on the importance of physical preparation for a successful elk hunt.

QUESTION: What makes an elk hunt different from a turkey hunt or a deer hunt?
ANSWER: The big difference is that the terrain is different, and the elevation is much greater when you're hunting elk. You'll spend more time hiking up hills, and objects will appear to be much closer out here than they really are. You'll look at a mountain and think to yourself, "I can climb up that hill." You won't realize until two days later that you've only conquered a third of that mountain. For example, one of the guides and I are accustomed to this type of terrain, and walking up hills is usually no big deal for us. However, the other day we hiked to a ridge, and we spent
1/2-hour to travel 1/4-mile. Back home I can cover 2 miles in 1/2-hour. So, the terrain is much more difficult at this higher elevation. You have to be physically and mentally prepared for an elk hunt.





Check back each day this week for more about Elk Hunting...

Day 1 - How Puppe Became An Elk-Hunting Guide
Day 2 - Selecting Equipment and Finding an Outfitter
Day 3 - Bowhunting Versus Gun Hunting For Elk
Day 4 - How to Hunt Elk
Day 5 - Elk Calls for Beginners

John's Journal