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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been scouting an area in the North Slope, have seen a number of animals on my trail camera, but I'm seeing very little new sign and haven't figured out where the elk are bedding. I placed the cam over a grassy meadow near a lake. There are several game trails leading to and from the spot, and so far I've seen a small herd of cows with calves and a few single bulls and small bachelor groups. Every now and then a lone cow wanders through. There are 2 ridges on either side of the lake, and both ridges are littered with bedding areas. There is a ton of sign, but it's all several months old or older. I haven't located fresh sign in the area other than near my camera. Haven't found a single rub. I've spent most of my time walking the ridges and getting to know the area from above. There are 2 large bowls near the area. Bowl 1 I didn't walk because there were archery hunters in there, and Bowl 2 I haven't walked because I didn't think it could be a bedding or "sanctuary" area until recently. There's a nice north-facing slope way back from any trails. There's lots of deadfall and dense timber. There's a nice creek running through the middle and a couple of meadows with food sources. My best guess at this point, partly due to process of elimination, is that Bowl 2 is where my trail cam elk are hiding out.

For you experienced hunters, what would be your next step in learning the area? Obviously I would really like to nail down the animal activity a little better ahead of rifle season, but I'm not sure exactly what to do.

My idea is to hike onto the south-facing ridge over Bowl 2 in the dark and try to glass the area at daylight. Walking through the bowl this close to the season would be a bad idea, right? I'm worried about pushing the animals out. Suppose I don't see anything glassing, what would be your next move?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Psh yeah you just want a jump on my elk, huh?

JK I've seen a fair number of your posts, and I don't think this area is anything secret to folks who know the North Slope. Appreciate the offer and PM sent.
 

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I'd figure out where their escape routes are this year and be in position for ambush next year. Elk typically will use the same escape routes year after year.
 
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Also, things change from season to season. Where they are now, may not be where they are during rifle season. A lot of critters are way up in the high country and move with weather. Pressure moves them also. A lot of times they'll be in the timber but it's hard to find them.

Sounds like you've got some viable options. Who know what the traffic will be when the rifle hunt starts. All bets are off then. Ridge has a good point- watch the escape routes. Find funnels where there's timber that lead from one bowl or meadow to another. I've shot them as they were getting away from someone else in a different meadow. I just sat there and waited.

I was in an actual elk stampede a few years ago. They came over a ridge and right up the hill i was sitting on. I waited for another guy to shoot first..... I had them at 5 yards on a dead run. They ran around me. It was actually awesome. Didn't even kill one that day. Did kill one the next day in the same spot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
How do you go about figuring out escape routes? Are you talking sitting high and watching them move? Caddis, you mention looking at topography and visually seeing them move (the stampede must've been pretty exciting, ha). That makes sense. Is there anything to be gained by following tracks? I walked the ridge between the 2 bowls on the archery opener and there are tracks that bee-line between the bowls. But I don't see much rhyme or reason to it. No natural funnels, and there's plenty of cover on both sides.

It's a lot different from the Idaho panhandle hunt I did last fall. The ridge tops were little elk highways and the elk we saw on the camera were the same ones we saw during the hunt. But so far the ridges I've walked here just show crossing patterns, and the cam elk don't make many reappearances!
 

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I think there are a couple of ways to watch escape routes. Get as high as possible. I find the elk move differently in the morning and evening. I've never shot an elk on the north slope in the morning. I've only seen one shot in the morning.

If there's a ton of timber, that makes it tougher. But you'll see where they funnel in/out of a meadow or to water and where they run when pressured. For escape routes, the likelihood of you finding them coming in and out with the rifle hunt isn't real high. It happens, but that much pressure really impacts their activity. The escape routes are key. When they get running, they'll run a while and it may take a day or two for them to come back, but they generally do.
 

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Y, get high and watch for movement and movement around gun shots opening morning.
 

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Awesome, I really appreciate it. Helps me hone in my plan for opening morning.
Do as much scouting as you can before opening morning. A lot of times people that have hunted that area for years do the same thing, sit on the same rock, watch the same meadow, and shoot an elk every year. If you can get above them so they push critters into you, that helps. I wouldn't do it opening morning, but you could walk SUPER SLOW in the timber and find where they bed. You can sneak up on elk in the timber with the right wind. They don't have great eyesight. I've done it a few times. It's awesome. A buddy and I snuck into some timber and shot a cow and had to have bulls walk by us to shoot the cow. It was awesome.
 
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They should be bugling a little by now. Take your lightest bag, a tap, and spend the evening and the night up there, the DAY BEFORE YOU WANT TO HUNT. Sneak into the area ever so stealthily in the early afternoon, lay low, and locate them from the party going on. Be ready in the morning. Trying to scout a large area is near impossible beyond the night before. That area has many hunters, hikers, etc that will move them elk most every day. Here today, gone tomorrow:unsure:
 

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If you do the above don't build a fire or even use a propane stove. Take a cold dinner and breakfast. If you like coffee take it in a thermos.

We used to do this and we were quite productive, a couple of times we found ourselves almost in the middle of the herd on opening morning.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I'll be getting up there early enough Friday after work that I can hike in and listen/glass till dark. I'm planning to camp at the truck and hike in super early the next morning. Makes for a lot of walking as well as starting at about 3am, but I'm up for it. I can get in position by 5:30am opening morning that way. I was originally planning to backpack in, but I think to be safe I'd need to camp about 2 miles from the area. It doesn't cut that much off the morning hike and makes camping logistics that much harder.
 
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